Custer's Revenge is an adult sex video game produced by Mystique for the Atari 2600, first released on September 23, 1982. The game gained notoriety owing to its goal of raping a Native American woman.
Following the video game crash of 1983, Mystique was unable to stay in business. As a result, many of Mystique's copyrighted works, including Custer's Revenge, were sold off to the adult video game company Playaround. Under the ownership of Playaround, Custer's Revenge was re-branded as Westward Ho and given slight modifications to its original gameplay. These alterations included simple aesthetic changes such as the darkening in color of the Native American woman's skin tone. Playaround also made a version of Custer's Revenge named General Retreat. The game received largely negative reviews worldwide, and is often considered as one of the worst video games ever made.
In the game, the player controls the character of Custer, depicted as a man wearing nothing but a cavalry hat, gloves, boots and a bandana, sporting a visible erection. Custer has to overcome arrow attacks to reach the other side of the screen. His goal is to rape a Native American woman tied to a pole.
In General Retreat, it is the woman who has to overcome various obstacles to have sex with Custer. Instead of arrows, cannonballs are fired at the woman.
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 (equivalent to $132 in 2019), 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 many thought was a publicity stunt. Women's rights groups criticized the game, stating that it was a simulation of rape; the back of the packaging states "she's not about to take it lying down, by George! Help is on the way. By God! He's coming." Other groups such as Women Against Pornography, Native American spokespersons, and critics of the adult video game industry in general protested about the content of the game. Activists tried pressuring legislators to outlaw the game, which Oklahoma City, home to large Native American population, did. Multiple Industries pursued an $11 million lawsuit against Suffolk County, New York and legislator Philip Nolan "because of a resolution authorizing the county executive to take action to halt sales and distribution" of the game.
Nevertheless, the focused media attention generated publicity for the game and caused it to sell approximately 80,000 copies, twice as many copies as Mystique's other adult-only games, Bachelor Party and Beat 'Em & Eat 'Em. Atari received numerous complaints about the game however, and responded by trying to sue the game's makers. Stuart Kesten, President of American Multiple Industries (Mystique), stated "our object is not to arouse, our object is to entertain [...] When people play our games, we want them smiling, we want them laughing." The game's designer, Joel Miller, said Custer was "seducing" the maiden and that she was a "willing participant". By April 1983, the game was withdrawn from circulation.
In 1988, computer gaming magazine Ahoy! called Custer's Revenge "an [affront] to common decency", in contrast to more modern and 'tasteful' adult games. Electronic Gaming Monthly's Seanbaby placed it as number 9 in his "20 worst games of all time" feature.
In 2008, the University of Calgary professor Tom Keenan cited "the hideous Custer's Revenge game", 26 years after its release, in an op-ed piece about current video game violence issues for the Calgary Herald. That same year, the game was credited by Australian PC Magazine as being one of the worst games ever made, while Games.net ranked Custer's victim as fifth on the list of top ten "disturbingly sexual" game characters. In 2010, Custer placed eighth on machinima.com's list of the top perverts in gaming. UGO.com ranked it as tenth on the list of the most racist video games in history in 2010, also ranking the game's General Custer as the second most unsexy video game character of all time in 2012.
- Cultural depictions of George Armstrong Custer
- List of video games notable for negative reception
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- Lane, Frederick S. Obscene profits: the entrepreneurs of pornography in the cyber age. pp. 55–56.
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- Wise, Deborah (1982). "Video-pornography games cause protest". InfoWorld (November 8): 1,7.
- "Stream of video games is endless". Milwaukee Journal. December 26, 1982. pp. Business 1. Retrieved January 10, 2015. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- Ledray, Linda E. Recovering From Rape. p. 254.
- "'Custer' Game Is Subject of Two Lawsuits". Billboard. December 11, 1982. p. 8. Retrieved March 1, 2010. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- Herman, Leonard (1997). Phoenix: The Fall & Rise of Videogames. p. 88.
- Talbot, David, ed. (April 1983). "Pac-Man Kills Kids, Self: Video Horrors". Mother Jones. San Francisco: Foundation for National Progress. VIII (III): 7.
- Katz, Arnie (August 1988). "Centerfold Squares". Ahoy!. No. 56. Ion International. pp. 24–25.
- "Seanbaby's EGM's Crapstravaganza - #9: Custer's Revenge (Atari 2600)". Seanbaby.com. Archived from the original on July 7, 2006. Retrieved April 8, 2007.
- "Teaching kids to kill". Canada.com. Retrieved November 17, 2013. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- "Violent video games - the worst of the worst - News - PC & Tech Authority". Pcauthority.com.au. April 10, 2008. Retrieved November 17, 2013. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- GamePro Media (July 16, 2011). "Top Ten Disturbingly Sexual Game Characters | Games.net". Archived from the original on July 16, 2011. Retrieved November 17, 2013. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- Top 10 Perverts in Gaming, machinima, May 29, 2010 Archived June 10, 2016, at the Wayback Machine
- The 11 Most Racist Video Games | These eleven games are so seriously un-PC that it's amazing they ever made it to shelves., UGO.com, November 30, 2010
- Meli, Marissa (March 27, 2010). "General Custer (Custer's Revenge) - 20 Unsexiest Sexy Video Game Characters". UGO.com. Archived from the original on November 8, 2013. Retrieved November 17, 2013. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- Kent, Steven L. (2001). The Ultimate History of Video Games. Roseville, California: Prima. ISBN 0-7615-3643-4.