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September 2012 Retro Gaming Article

September 30, 2012 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Controversy erupted over 1988 Vixen video game box cover featuring Page Three model

* *Elements of this article are NSFW **

Vixen on the Atari ST Vixen on the Atari ST, among other platforms, caused a stir in 1988 with what was considered a controversial box cover featuring Corinne Russell (model, dancer and Page Three Girl). Martech Games Limited in the UK created a platformer where Vixen was the last survivor on Granath and vowed to destroy the dinosaurs and restore mankind to the planet. The game was released for Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Commodore 64, IBM PC and ZX Spectrum. The title was altered to She • Fox for German release due to phonetically similar slang for masturbation.

The last survivor should consider herself lucky to have a spiffy jungle-print bikini after her planet has been decimated and she's poised to rise up and salvage humanity... by herself. So, anyway...

Despite retailer and activist groups protesting the box cover image, this game did offer noteworthy elements on the pixel'd side of things. For example: on some releases, the character-movement was particularly good due to the animation process used to animate the Vixen character. Despite a technical feat of on-screen motion, critics couldn't get past the cover/outfit. I'm hoping gaming journalists have since raised their tolerance when taking into account the outfits of today's M-rated games.

Keep in mind that this also pre-dated the insane commercialization of the internet as we know it today. In 88, if you were online, you were likely a Government employee or wading through Prodigy, Compuserve or Delphi at 2400 baud ;)
Your Sinclair May 1988
Search engines didn't exist to gather global content for anyone to sift through. Thus, it was long before "sex" had the opportunity to become a dominant search term. Despite this, mass media still put on a masquerade of outrage even when a visit to the town swimming pool would yield bikinis on public display.

The Sun tabloid newspaper first started printing topless girls on the 3rd page of it's publication November 1970. This popularized the term "Page Three Girls" and Corinne Russell, as "Vixen" on the cover of Your Sinclair mag, May 1988, was one of the Sun's most popular Page 3 girls.

Rather than being thankful she was wearing a top on the game's box cover, her Page Three appearances inflamed the controversy. Printing topless models on Page 3 lasted into the mid 80s (and beyond) and during that time the idea spread to many newspapers, even those claiming to be family-oriented publications.

It might also be relevant to the controversy that Corinne Russell appeared on the cover of OUI magazine in Jan 1984, High Society magazine in October of 1986 and was featured again in their May 1988 issue. She went on to also appear on the cover of Playboy (italy), January 1990. I imagine her presence on the Vixen game box got the controversy going, but her appearances in various adult publications probably fueled the criticism.

Your Sinclair May 1988 How many games come with a poster of the box cover? Not many. But when your box cover features a Page Three model, the gears start turning in marketing departments. The May 1988 issue of Your Sinclair magazine also offered a pull-out poster of the Vixen box art featuring Corinne Russell. Today, it's hard to imagine a bikini causing controversy. The marketing mantra, "Sex Sells", has been around since people discovered sex and commerce :)

Vixen screenshot

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