Saturday, 13 June 2015

What you need to know: Night Trap and the ESRB

Back in 1992, developer Digital Pictures released an interactive movie video dubbed Night Trap. This game would eventually become associated with other games such as, Mortal Kombat, DOOM 3D and Lethal Enforcers, despite having none of the violence or nudity in the a fore mentioned games. Night Trap’s association with these other games comes form it’s involvement in the creation of the ESRB rating system.

First let’s look at the basic information about the game. As a fore mentioned, Digital Pictures made the game back in October of 1992 for the Sega CD and the game has gone through several publishers over time.  Night Trap is one of the first games to utilize live action scenes during game play and was a part of a ‘trap-em up’ genre, popular at that time. The game was concerned a finical success by Digital Pictures (especially in the UK), even following the controversy it was involved in.

After the initial release, Night Trap did quite well selling on the shelves. However, in December of 1993; a whole year after its release, it was pulled from several popular toy stores all over the USA in response to a heavy influx of complaints, regarding the content of the game. This was soon followed by the publisher axing the game after the December 9th 1993 judicial hearing regarding violent video games (where along with Night Trap; Mortal Kombat, DOOM 3D and Lethal Enforcers were all cited).  This hearing was heavily reported upon by the media and Night Trap was quoted as “ultra-violent”, “Sick”, and that the game encouraged “the entrapment of woman” despite the game featuring no scenes of extreme violence featured in the other games cited at the hearing. One scene in particular was a cause of concern as it showed one of the actresses in a knighting gown, In her personal bathroom, with an Auger (the enemies in the game) in the background attempting to capture her and was quoted as “too sexy” to feature in a game. It was removed along with several other aspects of the game upon the censored re-release. If you haven’t put two and two together by now, it was this hearing that eventually called for the creation of the ESRB as it was decided that the ratings used for TV and movies, wasn’t applicable to games.

Eventually the original release of the game was ported onto Mac, PC and several other platforms and can still be found today (if you feel like playing it). Despite Night Trap’s rather tame content, it has been associated with many violent video games because of the 1993 violent video game hearing and was crucial in creating the ESRB.

None of these events diminished the success of the game.

Interested in seeing what the game is like? Try watching the Game Grumps’ playthrough 

Read more about the game here  

Watch the infamous “Bathroom” scene

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