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Leisure Suit Larry once almost brought down a global banking system

Screenshot: Leisure Suit Larry: Reloaded

If you’re a gamer of a certain age, the name “Leisure Suit Larry” probably still strikes you as scandalous. Before sex became more or less commonplace in gaming blockbusters, the idea that there was a game out there built around the pursuit of sex was a blush-worthy one. As MEL Magazine puts it in a new breakdown of Leisure Suit Larry’s origins, the game “had the mystique of a shrink-wrapped Playboy in a convenience store.”

That’s hilarious now, of course, as the below playthrough reveals the title’s pixelated figures aren’t likely to tickle anyone’s erogenous zones. Still, despite being an initial flop, the game’s bawdy humor and unique approach developed a cult following that led to no shortage of sequels, each of which finds the franchise’s namesake schmuck on the hunt for companionship.

MEL’s piece digs deep into its roots as a text-based adventure game called Softporn Adventure to its reinvention by a former high school music teacher to that time it almost brought down a global banking system.


Seriously: Due to its salacious nature, the game was pirated more than it was purchased, which made it susceptible to viruses:

The piracy became so widespread that bootleg copies of Larry became a reliable way to spread computer viruses. In late 1988, the New Accountant and the Financial Times reported that multiple banks and trading houses in Europe were hit with a virus that destroyed all the data on their terminals, after bored traders tried loading up illicit copies of the game. Sierra eventually had to respond to complaints that, no, official copies of the game were not going to destroy your computer and/or potentially bring down the global banking system.

And that’s only part of the wild history of the game, which was weirdly innovative not just in terms of introducing dating sims to American audiences, but also in that it required its developers to create custom tools—the bones of which are commonplace now—just to make the thing.

Read the full piece here. It’s SFW, but we wouldn’t blame you for feeling a touch bashful about clicking that link.


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About the author

Randall Colburn

Randall Colburn is The A.V. Club's Internet Culture Editor. He lives in Chicago, occasionally writes plays, and was a talking head in Best Worst Movie, the documentary about Troll 2.