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Published November 25, 2013

Winners Don't Use Drugs Screen Arcade Games

Arcades are ‘my thing’, I just love them, I have my own arcade machine that I’ve been restoring/modifying, most of my childhood holiday memories are based around what arcade machine I played at the time. Billingham in the north of England, aged 8 I played The Simpsons, Center Parks Resort, aged 15 I played Time Crisis 2, Florida, aged 14 I played copious amounts of Gauntlet: Dark Legacy. I could carry on, but my point is that my formative years were spent over paying the odds for a single go on a machine, in retrospect arcades were the brick and mortar start of In App Purchases.

Winners Don't Use Drugs - William S Sessions, Director, FBI
Winners Don’t Use Drugs – William S Sessions, Director, FBI

Arcade games From 1989 to 1999 all carried a warning, “Winners Dont Use Drugs”. This was on all North American arcade machines built-in that time and thanks to lazy developers or shady imports my British childhood was treated to them as well. In the 1980’s America started to really get wise to it’s burdening drug problem, the 70’s drugs of choice like weed and acid were falling out of fashion but crack and cocaine were taking over. Trickling from the elite classes at the start of the decade down to the suburbs and ghettos by the end of the 1980’s the American government wanted to stop the demand for drugs and ruin the whole supply aspect of the trade.

Robert Fay, American Amusement Machine Association President, was approached by Sessions to start incorporating a public service announcement on all arcade games. Quite quickly Sessions and Fay had managed to get 17 of the 20 largest arcade game producers to sign up and display this message on their ‘attract screen’. The attract screens are the demos and copyright blurbs that cycle through to stop screen burn and to entice kiddy winks to spend their money.

In an amazing turn of events Sessions was actually fired by President Clinton 5 years before the public service announcement was taken down from arcade machines, as such for the last few years people’s only really knowledge of who the Director of the FBI was quite out of date. He was removed from his post after numerous allegations about the use of FBI property like limos and jet planes and the way him and his wife used tax payers money.

In reality the fact that this was such a common sight for some many of my and older generations it seems surprising that in this day and age of satire and cynicism in the games industry that this hasn’t gone through the meme-machine or been parodied more often.

Bloody Dragon Winners Don't Use Drugs

In recent memory there have only been two examples Blood Dragon, the Far Cry 3 total conversion, and Scott Pilgrim Vs The World game. They each took different angles with the presentation of their mockery, Blood Dragon [Above] went for a great subtle nod to the classic phrase, presented in such a way that those in the know get the reference and those oblivious to the origin still get a typical and classically funny Blood Dragon line.

Scott Pilgrim’s approach was a lot more in your face with a flat-out copy of the original screen, skewing it slightly to reference one of the evil exs. Evil-ex number 3 claims, and has, received powers from the enlightenment of veganism. Play Scott Pilgrim Vs The World game on XBLA or PSN and you’re rewarded with this screen.

Winners Don't Use Drugs Eat Meat Scott Pilgrim FBI

The warning died a death ever so slightly before arcade died themselves. People were home gaming, playing online and the developers just weren’t there for, what was essentially, building a new console for every game. Arcades can still be found knocking around sea-side towns, but the games are few and far between, now the only warnings we get in arcades are the “Do Not Choke” labels on the toys in the claw machines.

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One Comment

  1. .

    tnx for info!!

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