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Softporn Adventure was a comedic, adult-oriented text adventure game produced for the Apple II in 1981. The game was created by Charles Benton and released by On-Line Systems, later renamed Sierra On-Line.
In the game, the player (playing a down-on-his-luck party animal) searches for certain items that will allow him to win the affections of three beautiful (and sometimes not-so-beautiful) women. Benton claimed that parts of the game were based on his own life. Years later, Softporn Adventure inspired the Leisure Suit Larry series of adult-oriented videogames, and the first entry in that series, 1987's Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards, was a nearly direct graphical adaptation of Softporn Adventure.
The game's cover features three nude women and a male waiter in a hot tub. The hot tub is actually that of On-Line Systems' owners Ken and Roberta Williams. From left to right, the first woman is Diane Siegel, On-Line's production manager. The second is Susan Davis, On-Line's bookkeeper and the wife of Bob Davis, the creator of Ulysses and the Golden Fleece. The waiter was Rick Chipman, an actual waiter from a local restaurant, The Broken Bit. The woman on the far right is Roberta Williams. The ad was considered somewhat scandalous at the time because of the degree of nudity displayed.
The photo accompanying TIME’s first-ever story on computer games was of the Softporn Adventure advertisement. United Press International also covered the game's release. Although Benton's mother and On-Line Systems' Coarsegold, California neighbors disliked the game's erotic content, and the company received hate mail, the positive and negative publicity helped sell an estimated 50,000 copies, an unusually large number. Because computer stores did not want to order only one game from On-Line they purchased other software with it; Williams estimated that Softporn temporarily doubled On-Line's sales. Benton's own romantic life also reportedly improved.
Customers asked for a version for women, but Benton could not find a female collaborator. He worked on other Sierra games until founding Technology Systems, Inc. in 1985.
Softporn Adventure was originally written for the Apple II in Applesoft BASIC. Thompson loved the game, so he printed it out, re-designed, and re-wrote it for the PC in the late 80's and released it on Compuserve. After going to the store and purchasing a copy of Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards, he realized it was the same game. After contacting Al Lowe (designer of Leisure Suit Larry) and getting a first-hand account history of the game, he obtained permission from Ken Williams and Lowe to release his re-designed PC version as shareware on the Internet. Williams said he would allow Gary to release his Softporn on the internet because, as he wrote, "Quite frankly, I seriously doubt it will affect the sales of Larry."
In 1994 Thompson got an email from Lowe, graciously requesting his permission (since the rights were already owned by Sierra anyway) to release Gary's PC version on a collector's edition of LSL called Leisure Suit Larry's Greatest Hits and Misses. The company requested his version because Thompson's Softporn was the only version available for the PC that completely held true to the original game. Gary updated and re-wrote the game again. This bug-fixed version was then released on Sierra's collector's edition CD-ROM.
Softline called the Atari version of Softporn "a refreshing change of pace from the average software game" but criticized its sexism, noting the inability to seduce men and reporting that "the parser does not recognize the word woman". The magazine stated that the game "reinforces the notion that all computer freaks are emotionally underdeveloped high school and college boys", but nonetheless concluded that it "is hopelessly addicting ... it's just a shame that [the author] didn't take the time to make his program a bit classier".
- Maher, Jimmy (2012-02-29). "Softporn". The Digital Antiquarian. Retrieved 9 July 2014.
- Levy, Steven (2010/1985). Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution. Sebastopol: O'Reilly Media. p. 350.
- The Sierra Star, October 7, 1981
- "Tradetalk," Softalk, November 1981.
- "Software for the Masses" from TIME
- Bang, Derrick (1982-01). "Softporn". Softline. p. 33. Retrieved 14 July 2014.