Day 69 - sex sells

by PaulEMoz in , , , , , , , , , , ,

Those naughty computer game artists.  Faced with the challenge of selling games to an adolescent market with no internet access, they often had to dream up imaginative advertising campaigns which resorted to the basest of measures - SEX!

I'm not necessarily talking about the games themselves, although you would find the occasional scantily-clad sprite or dodgy digitised strip poker game.  No, I'm thinking more specifically about poster and game-box artwork.

Rawr!  That's what she's saying, not me...
There were two variations on saucy game art: hired models, or fantasy artwork.  The hired models tended to be Page 3 girls of the time, dressed loosely (cough) around an in-game character or the game's theme.  Classic examples included Martech's Vixen campaign, and of course, the never to be forgotten Barbarian games from Palace software.

Here's the original artwork for Game Over.
And this is how it looked after complaints..
From the realms of fantasy art, well, there were many.  The most infamous was, without doubt, Imagine's box and poster art for Game Over.
This one pushed so hard at the boundary that later versions saw the art airbrushed into a "safer" version, or a strategically-placed screenshot saving the sci-fi maiden's blushes.

 This "tactic" obviously worked, with average games getting more press than they otherwise might have, and Vixen managing to get on the cover of Your Sinclair, even though the game wasn't all that good.  The Barbarian games deserved praise for actually being good games, though; I'm sure they would have sold a ton regardless.

Wolf and Maria have never looked so... digital.
There then came the challenge for the computer artists to make loading screens out of this cover art.  Some of these worked better than others.  I suppose it depended on the quality of the artist as to how well the pictures translated.

I'll probably talk about loading screens and game graphics later.  I'll want to go into more detail, because these people were also our Gods, and I intend to feature them in the book, too.  Naturally, that gives me the excuse to add lots of great artwork, and everybody loves that classic 8-bit art.  I'll be interested to hear what it was like for artists working on games, how much input they had and any horror stories they may have had regarding graphics.  I think it'll be a valuable addition to the book... do you agree?