The Lost World Of Sexy Video Game Advertising

Lurid, lecherous and ludicrous – the game marketing pitched at teenage boys in the 1980s and 1990s.

As regular readers will know, nothing fascinates us here at The Reprobate more than the world of gratuitously sexy advertising – the way that even the most unlikely of products could be enhanced and promoted by scantily-clad women (and not always women, we have to say) to make something ordinary and prosaic seem sexy and enticing.

Video games, you might think, would be less in need of sexing up than other products – after all, the promise of endless hours of fun and intensity is already there in the product, whether or not it actually delivers. But back in the day – before such things were frowned upon by the neo-prudes – a lot of games (and consoles) would try to grab the attention of video game magazine readers in the way that advertisers had been grabbing attention for decades – with sexy girls in skimpy outfits. There’s a logical reason for that: while critics of these old ads will talk about how games manufacturers assumed that their market was primarily made up of teenage boys, they omit one point – those manufacturers were right. Gaming used to be a very male activity and whether or not that was simply because almost everything made was pitched directly at the tastes of teenage boys, companies knew that they were selling to that crowd – especially when advertising in computer magazines that were almost exclusively read by teenage boys or in lad’s mags where the addition of a Joanne Guest to a press ad seemed a shrewd move rather than out-of-touch sexism. Times have changed – but in the era that these ads appeared, they were probably less of a sexist dinosaur approach to advertising and more a case of knowing the market.

Some of the ads at least have a connection to the game’s theme – even if the covers for the 1980s and 1990s games often involved a great deal of artistic licence and the actual game visuals were considerably less realistic. Others are the very definition of gratuitous. All, of course, are very much of their time and unlikely to be replicated anytime soon.

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