Hey kids, wanna get beat up?! Buy our game!
From the very moment Gary Gygax invented Dungeons & Dragons in 1974, it found a home in advertising in comic books. It’s really a no-brainer. Nerds like comics, thus nerds will like D&D. By the 1990’s, Dungeons & Dragons had started to fall out of favor with the masses so today’s Classic Comic Ad focuses on TSR’s attempt to branch out into the mainstream.
How do you do that? By turning Dungeons & Dragons into a simple boardgame. Dragon Quest was a secret attempt by TSR to try and get kids into Dungeons & Dragons by making them believe this was a fun board game like Monopoly or Hungry Hungry Hippos. Of course, in reality the game was basically a simplified Dungeons & Dragons game with a few pewter game pieces thrown in to make it official. Oddly enough you still needed a bunch of zany 3 and 6 sided dice (to keep the good times rolling!) and other D&D staples. I’m surprised they didn’t add a Pop-O-Matic bubble so it would be more palpable for kids.
The game even requires you to have a Dungeon master… Ensuring that your parents were never going to play this game with you. It’s also best played with 5-6 players! Basically, it was nearly impossible to find enough people willing to put down Sonic the Hedgehog to use the power of “imagination” to pretend to be a Dwarf with 5 THAC0.
The advertisement here is really interesting. For starters, I looked at this thing for like 10 minutes before I realized that the person on the end was a girl. Even now I’m not certain that it’s a real girl. It could be a young crossdresser. Seriously, only Liberace and magicians wear shirts that poofy. And what’s that on her neck? A broach? Who the hell is this girl? If this girl is you, contact me, I want an interview!
And look at the boy in the middle, with his “hip” bead necklace. And those haircuts? These are NOT the kids who would have played this game. These kids are a lie I tell you, a LIE!
Speaking of lies, you might think I’m pulling your chain when I said that this was a secret attempt by TSR to get kids into D&D. However, look at this ad, do you see the words Dungeons & Dragons on it anywhere? Nope, it’s nowhere to be found. However if you bought the game, it actually has the name plastered all over the materials. Clearly they wanted you to not think this was D&D until you had it at home.