The Art of the Ad: Sex, Lies, and Video Games

The 1970s-1980s arcade ads are so gloriously retro now that you can almost see the console lights blinking and flashing, smell the acrid odor of teenage boys working up a sweat gunning for high score on Centipede, and hear the myriad sounds of bleeps, booms, and other onomatopoeia bouncing around the room. The later, home console ads (Sega, Nintendo, and Konami spring to mind) are equally nostalgic reminders of obsessively playing Contra or Street Fighter for hours (days??) on end, until your fingers were so cramped you couldn’t hold a fork to eat mom’s meatloaf dinner.

These ads seemed to feature a plethora of mythical Playboy-esque gamer girls clad in Daisy Dukes and/or high heels because these companies clearly knew where their bread was buttered. Reeling in the coveted male youth demographic meant using all the dishonest and gratuitous T&A reinforcements they could muster. See for yourself with these vintage ads. Several of the ones you’ll see below were plucked from an entertaining 2016 blog post by The Arcade Blogger. That piece is positively overflowing with 1970s-1980s video game and arcade ads, so prepare to laugh and cry at the rampant sexism that passed as keen marketing sense back in the day.

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