Sex sells, and when your target demographic is consists (mostly) of single, heterosexual males and your product exists in a fast-moving, cutthroat environment, then things might get a little out of hand with your advertising. Video game ads are sort of like the Galápagos islands of advertising, where strange and unique species that could exist nowhere else wander freely. We’d like to take you, friends, on a journey through the best oversexed video game ads we could find presented in no particular order.
This ad is a cruel reminder that while I spent 1999 popping my pimples and trying to sort out new “feelings” and “changes,” a cartoon gecko was getting way more tail (no pun intended) than I was. Incidentally, the Gex series ended after he and his PR firm were never able to beat back rumors that he and the Geico gecko were anything more than “very good friends that vacation together on the Riviera.”
I Remember When He Couldn’t Keep His Hands Off Me!
Where to begin with this gem? First, there’s the delightful early 90′s fashion. Blondie in the foreground is the exemplar of that decade’s Porn Chic, perhaps typified by Whore 2 (seriously, do a side-by-side comparison). Meanwhile, slick-head in the background is trying to blow off some steam after a day at the office by slipping in to some tight jeans and a baggy dress shirt with the sleeves tastefully buttoned. But the crowning achievement of this image is the visual punning between slick-head’s thrusting groin, hand position, and the image on the screen. He seems so pleased with the muscly, fleshy, face-penis thing he’s summoned on TV that he doesn’t need his wife!
Seriously, though: if anyone can identify the game in this intensely phallic image, please let us know.
Guitar Hero 5
It starts out with a lack of taste all too typical for videogame ads, with a woman disrobing and soon followed by four of her disrobing friends. But then subverts itself with a naked fat guy. I almost wonder if it’s a deep, metaphorical statement, as if suggesting that you, the viewers, are the fat guy that ruins the naked lady party. But who can say?
There are actually two versions of this ad, but for some reason both feature said fat dude bending over to get a piece of pizza off the ground. I don’t even know what to say about that.
Trying to jump on the viral marketing bandwagon, the makers of F.E.A.R. 2 (which, by the way, is incredibly tedious to type out) turn to the same playbook used by the creators of the Pokemon television show: giving screen time to sexy nurses. There’s not much more to be said about this one, except that I do find it odd for an ad that is trying to be sexy and appeal to heterosexual males that they feature burly men carrying off a passed out kid.
A pioneering force in specialized peripherals, Eidos included an actual dominatrix that would convert your home into a sex dungeon, and then whip you every time you tried to stop playing.
MTX vs. ATV
The best thing about MTX vs. ATV? It’s rated “E, for Everyone.” Also, I just want to point out that the one girl is not very good at following directions; the announcer indicated that she would remain dry, but she ends up wet anyway! These two girls are just bad at washing off-road vehicles, I guess. I certainly won’t be attending their charity car wash anytime soon.
S.P.Y. Special Project Y
So, this is a game, not an ad for a Miami Vice knock-off, right? Oh, wait, there’s some barely visible screen shots down the left side. Looks like their might be some, uh, pixels in it or something? Sorry, it’s just hard for me to tear my eyes away from the Gun and Mustache Brothers. Honestly, I didn’t even notice the women at first. Not with that big mass of mustache in the way.
Dead Or Alive: Beach Volleyball
Now, some might call the inclusion of this infamous Dead Or Alive: Beach Volleyball ad too obvious a choice. I disagree. This ad has some truly clever flourishes. There are subtle things like the female voice over encouraging players to “play with yourself,” or the strange inflection Lawrence Fishburn uses as he reminds you that XBox is the place for “hot beaches” — almost implying that he means something else. But the most outstanding feature is that instead of promising players a fantasy, it shows them reality: You and your ugly-man friends in a dark room, casually covering erections.
I’m just going to go out on a limb here and assume that, as users of the internet, you have seen ads for Evony. It seems like only yesterday that they started popping up on just about any site with adspace. It was also painfully obvious that the game’s creators were getting more and more desperate with each passing day. As this blog post documents, the ads got sexier and sexier (and not in a good way) until it reached a fevered level of overexposure — both the number of ads and square footage of skin. Thankfully this ad campaign seems to have dropped off the edge of the world for now, but I can’t help thinking that Evony is still out there. Watching, and waiting.
I’ll save you from having to relive the sheer glut of these ads, and choose what I believe are the best two.
I remember this second one because it was in flash and zoomed in really close on her pixelated boobs. Ah, sweet memories of “that one site I was trying to download printer drivers from but scarred me emotionally instead.”
With a name like BMX XXX, one would think the game had some mature content. This seems not to be the case. True, the ad does feature a lot of live-action women gyrating around under strobe lights, but there doesn’t seem to be much of that in the game. In fact, the ad focuses on jokes about eating hot dogs (“veee-ners”), farting, and (balloon) animals humping. That’s not quite the “XXX” I had in mind, but good try!
Konami, were you even trying? While She-Rambo holds an inhumanly awkward post, two “prisoners of war” (who I can only assume work in the mail room) leer from within a bamboo cage. Incidentally, that cage looks about strong enough to imprison a sick badger, but anything past that would be wishful thinking. Unlike many of the other ads here, I can only assume that this was intentionally made ridiculous. I have to believe this, otherwise I’ll lose all my faith in humanity.
Ah, the sheer marketing power of Lara Croft. Not content to shill for her own games, she started moonlighting in generic PlayStation ads. What’s really breathtaking about this ad, and the bevy of others that feature Croft, is just how hard the advertisers seem to be trying to convince you that her awkward, angular “curves” are alluring. “THIS IS A HOT CHICK,” they seemed to shout. “YOU LIKE HOT CHICKS; YOU WILL TOTALLY BUY ANYTHING WITH A HOT CHICK ON IT AND WE ARE INFORMING YOU THAT THIS IS A HOT CHICK.”
Continuing in the theme of “video games will turn you into a sexless neuter,” this ad from Sega promises that with enough exposure to their games, you too can no longer experience the thrill of desire. Either that or blindness. Huzzah!
We’d have to reach deep into the psyche of Japan to pull out whatever it is that motivates them to create so many video games based around large, muscly men in tiny underwear. Though platonic ideal of this trend is personified by the legendary Cho Aniki series, Muscle March brings some truly valuable additions to the table. In this game, it appears that you chase after an American football player that has stolen your, I don’t know, canister of protein or something. Anyway, you run through a series of walls, Bugs Bunny-style, until you’re finally able to capture the foe. Most importantly, you can play as a giant polar bear in an orange thong.
Davis Cup World Tour
Unlike all the other ads we’ve showed you that featured real-live women, this one does not imply that their product will make you ignore women. To the contrary, they seem to be encouraging men to “take advantage.” Frankly, I don’t even know what more to say about that. Points for sheer gratuity, Davis Cup.
Riding that beautiful line between actually discussing the product and just showing off a series of attractive women (and a topless mannequin, and a drag queen, and a fat dude in a leisure suit), this Japanese ad highlights the major game mechanic of Bionic Commando, but not how you’d expect. The ad also includes this sage advice that we can surely all get behind: “Being a MAN, is all about Swinging … we promise all men their best swing ever.”
This is not a successful ad. The words at the top are all mushed together, making it unclear what exactly is being sold. The small print at the bottom doesn’t do much to enlighten me about the product, either. Perhaps it’s my 21st century mindset, but what they’re talking about sounds more like a cellphone game, or maybe a typing trainer, than a space fantasy featuring busty women.
But forget her. She’s in the background, barely visible. What’s front and center is this man, which I can only describe as looking like Judge Dredd moonlighting on American Gladiators, straddling Space Satan and thrusting this thing in his face. This glowing yellow thing, looking more like one of those wands they use to direct airplane traffic than a lightsaber, emanating from the groinal region and resting gently against Space Satan’s throat.
Also, what’s going on with Space Satan’s right hand? Where’s that going?
You might be thinking to yourself, “wow, this is pretty tame.” And you might be right. Yes, there are hot babes in short-shorts and belly shirts, but there’s nothing overly gratuitous — just the regular gratuitous. And then you notice the high heels, and how the ad cuts back to them repeatedly. Not game play, not even sexy ladies, just feet. And then you realize that you have been unwittingly involved in someone’s foot fetish.
Kirby’s Epic Yarn
Kirby, you need to put that thing away this instant. I’m serious.
The journey has been long, and we have seen amazing things together, but now it has come to an end. However, we at Geekosystem always want to leave you feeling happy, and this Guitar Hero ad guarantees that. It’s oversexed, oh sure, but it’s proof that Heidi Klum can make anything look good. Even cashing a check from a video game company, as they cash a check on a boob-obsessed consumer audience.
James Plafke contributed research.