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How Anti-Drug Message Became Ubiquitous on Arcade Games in 1980s

This message appeared on countless arcade games

This message appeared on countless arcade games

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Beginning in the late 1980s, the federal government extended its anti-drug message to arcade games.

“Winners Don’t Use Drugs” was a popular slogan that was hatched during a dinner between old friends, Inverse.com reports. 

Bob Davenport, the the FBI’s director of public affairs, met with former FBI Agent Bob Fay, who at the time was the executive director of the American Amusement Machine Association.

“We were talking about my new career and how he had this emphasis on drug awareness,” Fay told Inverse, “and I said, ‘Hey, I might be able to help you out. I’ve got thousands of video games that we could put a message on.'”

That turned into trip to FBI headquarters in Washington.

The two friends decided the best message was “Winners Don’t Use Drugs” because it was concise and snappy.

“We wanted to get it to something that was short,” Fay said, “something that you could say winners not only applied to game-playing, but also if you want to be a winner in life, you can’t use drugs.”

The message became ubiquitous on video arcades in the late ’80.s.

Did it work?

“From some of the feedback that we were getting from the video game industry and others in the drug awareness program, we felt that it was pretty successful,” Davenport said.

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