Retro Video Gamer

Welcome to Retro Video Gamer => Retro News & Chat => Topic started by: Ben on December 20, 2014, 17:58:48 PM

Title: The Odd History of the First Erotic Computer Game
Post by: Ben on December 20, 2014, 17:58:48 PM
This post isn't NSFW per se, but I hope it's okay to put in this sub-forum as it is somewhat borderline (but very interesting in terms of gaming history). 
Quote
  Released in 1981, Softporn was controversial, cheesy, and earnest to a fault. It also presaged today's ongoing debates about who computers and games are for.
Laine Nooney Dec 2 2014, 6:45 AM ET
Softporn box cover ( Courtesy Brad Herbert and The Art of Sierra )

(http://cdn.theatlantic.com/static/newsroom/img/mt/2014/11/Fig03/lead.jpg?ng0jxe)

On October 5, 1981, Time magazine ran a story called “Software for the Masses”—a retrospective meditation on how computing became personal. If 1970s computer ownership had been limited to hobbyists who built and programmed their own machines, the 1980s were reeling in a new world of potential, non-specialist users: small business owners, housewives, children. The possibilities were endless, and for many consumers, overwhelming.

“Software for the Masses” might have been an otherwise arid tech story, buried and forgettable. But it ran with a warm, risqué photo of three brunettes in an outdoor hot tub, their breasts bobbing and nudging the waterline. This image was the promotional photography for the “computer fantasy game” Softporn, in which “players seek to seduce three women, while avoiding hazards, such as getting killed by a bouncer in a disco.” For $29.95 (plus $1 shipping and handling) a company named On-Line Systems would mail out this “funny, provocative, challenging adventure game for adults only!” on a single 5.25-inch floppy disk. Time reported that 4,000 copies had already been sold, making each and every purchaser the proud, unsuspecting owner of America’s first commercially-released pornographic computer game.
Time Magazine. October 5, 1981.
Photo courtesy of Sierra Gamers

As an erotic episode, Softporn would leave much to the imagination. Softporn was a text-based adventure game, meaning it had no graphics. Upon booting the floppy disk, the player was given control of a “puppet,” a human male through which the player executes textual commands. PLAY SLOTS. BUY WHISKEY. WEAR CONDOM. SCREW HOOKER. Softporn is set in a vague, 70s-infused urban dystopia entirely comprised of a bar, a casino, and a disco. Computer games had escorted players into underground caves, realms of starry space, and sport fields of every kind since the 1960s. Softporn captures a different kind of aspirational landscape, a contorted, pulpy vision of a bachelor’s night on the town.

Softporn was the creation of Massachusetts-based programmer Chuck Benton, an unlikely man to herald the erotic software revolution. A self-described “conservative New Englander,” Benton was a single guy in his late twenties at the time, and he initially designed the game as an exercise to teach himself programming on the Apple II. He intended the game as satire, a self-amused catalog of the unique sufferings of his species—the embarrassment of buying a pack of condoms, or accidentally going home with someone who ties you up and steals your cash (Benton claims parts of the game were drawn from his own experience, but has never fessed up to which parts).

Benton wasn’t trying to innovate on the text adventure genre so much as he was iterating from a pattern of pre-existing games. Many of the game’s cleverest features have the quality of introductory programming exercises: playing the blackjack and slot machine simulators, spending and earning money, a question and answer scenario using basic programming routines, and graffiti on a bathroom wall represented like ASCII art. The game was a silly thing, programmed and play-tested on the weekends, but Benton's guy friends took a liking to it and encouraged him to publish it.

There’s a gawkiness to Benton’s lines and lines of textual description, from the “swinging singles disco” full of “guys and gals doin’ the best steps in town,” to the prostitute’s bedroom, where “the bed’s a mess and the hooker’s about the same!” For all of Softporn’s exhausting chauvinism and wearied sexism, the game is absent of actual obscenity, and earnest to a fault. Even Eve, the final girl sought by the player, is sketched in little more than boyish exuberance: “What a beautiful face!!! She’s leaning back in the jacuzzi with her eyes closed and seems extremely relaxed. The water is bubbling up around her….A ‘10’!! She’s so beautiful………….A guy really could fall in love with a girl like this.”
Softporn Screenshot. Courtesy www.mobygames.com (http://http).
(http://cdn.theatlantic.com/assets/media/img/posts/2014/11/Fig01/90def2600.jpg)
(http://cdn.theatlantic.com/assets/media/img/posts/2014/11/Fig05/51f96104b.jpg)

What is remarkable about Softporn isn't that it existed, but that it was commercially sold. Erotic content had circulated freely on mainframes and minicomputers for decades, whether in the form of dirty joke generators or ASCII print outs of the Playboy bunny head. Raunchy code on a mainframe was available to any curious, specialist user poking around in the file systems. It wasn’t unlike a pin-up girl on the office wall: It could affirm the standard notions of what was and wasn't desirable among male co-workers, but wasn’t necessarily intended to provoke sexual activity. In contrast, microcomputers had an unforeseen potential for privacy, individual use, and personal ownership of code. Eroticism in this context could be illicit and furtive. Softporn was the computational equivalent of a Penthouse stash.
  More at - http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2014/12/the-odd-history-of-the-first-erotic-computer-game/383114/?single_page=true (http://http)
Title: Re: The Odd History of the First Erotic Computer Game
Post by: WiggyDiggyPoo on December 20, 2014, 23:18:18 PM
Pretty cool.

Its not dissimilar to the proliferation of the modern  dating game - got one on my 360 called don't die dateless dummy but its rather crude.

This is more like an early Leisure Suit Larry.
Title: Re: The Odd History of the First Erotic Computer Game
Post by: TrekMD on December 21, 2014, 00:48:04 AM
"Not suggested for minors," eh?  It's always interesting to see this stuff.  Adult entertainment was alive and well even when things were a bit crude given the hardware limitations of the time. 
Title: Re: The Odd History of the First Erotic Computer Game
Post by: wyldephang on December 21, 2014, 01:18:29 AM
When I was eight years old, my half-brother brought down a copy of Leisure Suit Larry from Canada and loaded it onto the family PC. In hindsight, it wasn't the brightest idea, but my parents were none the wiser. The game ran a simple age check at the boot-up screen, which basically consisted of a sequence of questions the developer didn't think a child should be able to answer. "Who was the third President of the United States?" Pick "Thomas Jefferson," and you're well on your way to controlling Larry in his eternal quest to score. What's funny is that I would imagine most adult websites don't offer anything more elaborate to keep minors off the site--maybe just a drop-down box to confirm your age, and we all know how fail-safe that is.  ::) Interesting topic, nonetheless! Thanks for sharing.
Title: Re: The Odd History of the First Erotic Computer Game
Post by: sloan on December 21, 2014, 03:55:39 AM
First thing in my recollection along these lines was strip poker for DOS PC's.
Title: Re: The Odd History of the First Erotic Computer Game
Post by: WiggyDiggyPoo on December 21, 2014, 10:47:24 AM
General adult thread alert?

On my SNES emulator ive got various slide shows of sexy anime chicks (not hentai just sexy) or a few 'erotic' shots of some more risque actresses.

Anyone know what they are doing on a SNES emulator, would be surprised I'd they ever saw a cartridge release?
Title: Re: The Odd History of the First Erotic Computer Game
Post by: zapiy on December 21, 2014, 10:56:04 AM
I never experienced this game but I did get Leisure Suit Larry and like above it was certainly crude but I guess I played it because I knew I should not be rather than it being a good game.

There where other games with more explicit functionality that ended up in my ownership. Sam Fox Strip Poker lol.
Title: Re: The Odd History of the First Erotic Computer Game
Post by: DZ-Jay on December 21, 2014, 18:17:23 PM
I've played SoftPorn on the Inform emulator.  It is crude, but not in the explicit way, more like someone's first game programming project.

It was fun, though, in the 12-year-old guy sort of way, which is all it was intended to be.  It is definitely the inspiration of Leisure Suit Larry.  Larry retains much of the original ideas and story elements of SoftPorn, and even some of the puzzles; but polishes them to a shine.

I've enjoyed SoftPorn for its sub-cultural and historical significance, but I love Leisure Suit Larry.  :)

   dZ.
Title: Re: The Odd History of the First Erotic Computer Game
Post by: guest5473 on January 07, 2015, 22:57:43 PM
And to think Kim Jong Un probably plays this game daily on their state-of-the-art, Reagan Administration PC's.
Title: Re: The Odd History of the First Erotic Computer Game
Post by: Shadowrunner on January 07, 2015, 23:25:33 PM
Quote from: "zapiy"
There where other games with more explicit functionality that ended up in my ownership. Sam Fox Strip Poker lol.

 :21: That's awesome! Did her song Touch Me play during the game?
Title: Re: The Odd History of the First Erotic Computer Game
Post by: zapiy on January 08, 2015, 22:57:30 PM
Lol guys.  And I weren't listening to the music. Lol.