Custer’s Revenge (also known as Westward Ho and The White Man Came) is a controversial video game made for the Atari 2600 by Mystique, a company that produced a number of adult video game titles for the system. The player character is based on General George Armstrong Custer. The game was first released on October 13, 1982, and has received significant criticism because of its crude simulation of a rape of a Native American woman.
Like a sophisticated rape would have been better?
In the game, the player controls the character of Custer, depicted as a man wearing nothing but a cavalry hat, boots and a bandana, sporting a visible erection. Custer has to overcome arrow attacks [is it just me or if people are firing arrows the very last thing I want is to be is cock out!] to reach the other side of the screen. His goal is to have sex with a naked Native American woman tied to a pole.
To be fair the graphics are so pants quite how one tells she is either Amerindian or indeed even a woman is beyond me.
Custer’s Revenge quickly gained notoriety upon its release. Sold in a sealed package labeled “NOT FOR SALE TO MINORS” and selling for $49.95, it acknowledged that children might nonetheless see the game. The game’s literature stated “if the kids catch you and should ask, tell them Custer and the maiden are just dancing.” The makers elected to preview the game for women’s and Native American groups, an act which some thought was a publicity stunt.
Now I have via the magic of the emu played “Custer’s Revenge” (I had to try it – God curse me!) and it is dreadful. Fifty bucks for that back when that was a lot of money! But clearly the marketing was genius. It occurs to me that if the women’s and Native American groups hadn’t made such a fuss the game would have just died a death and would not be the most notorious thing ever set on silicon. I like old videogames. Around the same time (actually a year before) Warlords came out for the Atari VCS and that is a great game – to this day I play it and I can beat anyone of you at it even post-pub. It has things like game-play and tactics and stuff. The thing is Warlords is fun. Incidentally (and thirty years after my first go) that was coded by a woman. With like real tits and everything. Unlike the piss-poor low-rez object of “Custer’s Revenge”. Which is the point isn’t it? Who defines what is pornographic? “Custer’s Revenge” is only so if you think it so. That’s what I mean about the marketing genius. A dreadful game and not even pornographic (the graphics are crude in the sense of blocky rather than in the sense of obscene*) raised to the heights because it offended**. I would argue it was only bought (it has no other redeeming features) because people wanted to be naughty and they were told this was naughty. It wasn’t. It was merely dreadful.
I mean if you get off on visuals that blocky you are perma-banned from my Lego box.
I guess ultimately what I am trying to say was “Custer’s Revenge” was not incidentally obscene or even pornographic (it was sold in ’82 – video porn – possibly including Native Americans existed and they had curvaceous tits unlike the block lady) but was deliberately obscene because it had nothing else to offer and it was made so because it would be taken seriously becaause people who would object which was precisely what the company behind it ($50 in ’82 recall) wanted. If the feminist and Amerindian groups had just been “That’s a terrible game” and not an obscenity it would have been stetted (good games need tactics). But people always want an obscenity (“the Human Centipede”) and obscenity is always created by those that campaign against it.
I don’t think it is obscene (as such) myself. I have said it is a dreadful game but what really gets me is that games like that only exist because people think pr0n dodgy which means numpties will buy it because despite it being a truly dreadful game (and computer and video games are our greatest art-form if done right) it is given a surly dirtiness by the likes of Mary Whitehouse and that is the only reason it was ever saleable. As I said, Pr0n is entirely made by the prod-noses. It would generally be considered risible if it wasn’t vaguely banned. Although I don’t know! As Woody Allen put it, “Sex is only good if it is dirty”.
*A pornographic game that isn’t even obscene is truly shocking. It makes me think of the “Royal Nonsuch” in Huck Finn.
**And yes it was grotesquely offensive. Off course it was. It had to be because it wasn’t any good.