A pixelated woman named Maxie appeared in the confines of an Apple Macintosh in 1987. MacPlaymate was the brainchild of Mike Saenz, who spent all of two weeks programming the game.
There wasn’t much to the game: you could take Maxie’s clothes off and then pleasure her with a vibrator or sex toys with names like “Mighty Mo Throbber,” “Deep Plunger”, or “Anal Explorer.”
You could also dress Maxie in stockings, a bondage outfit or “a full fetish ensemble” while commanding her to masturbate in one of six different ways – complete with moaning sounds. You could also add a female sex partner named Lola (or a male partner called Melvin, who was a miniature man with an 8-ball for a head!)
Another feature of the game was an innovative “Panic” button that hid gameplay behind a spreadsheet.
Debuting at MacWorld in January 1987, MacPlaymate sold for $50, and no copies were left by the end of the first day. Overnight, Mike Saenz and his new business partner, banker Frank Brooks used a Macintosh to churn out new disks. In total, they made $60,000.
Playboy eventually sent several cease-and-desist letters requesting a name change for the product. Brooks took scissors and cut off the “e” at the end of “MacPlaymate” on the packaging, creating the less catchy “MacPlaymat”. Nothing else – including the name of the game itself when it loaded on the Macintosh – was changed. Playboy wasn’t amused.
In February 1989, Playboy sued Brooks (and his company, Pegasus Productions) for using the company’s trademark in the title of the game, claiming, “the game hurts its image because buyers may think it was originated or sponsored by the company, which also markets videos, clothing, toys and other products under the ‘Playmate’ trademark.”
Brooks and Playboy settled out of court in an undisclosed agreement. By then, MacPlaymate had become one of the most pirated (stolen) games in early computer history.
In April 1990, Saenz turned MacPlaymate into a colour version on CD-ROM called Virtual Valerie under his new company, Reactor, calling the game “a sexual date on a disk” and charging $99. Saenz eventually moved on to publish non-erotic games like Spaceship Warlock, but none of his Reactor titles made a splash quite like the ones involving naked women.
Reactor folded in 2000 because Saenz “got bored” and wanted to return to fine art.