Thursday, September 25, 2014

Gaming Stories: How One Game Created Modern Ratings

Hello, and welcome to Gaming Stories, where I relate a tale of my time playing video games.

Many moons ago, there was a little console called the Sega Mega CD, a CD add-on for the Mega Drive, or the Genesis, as we 'murricans know it. No one could have possibly foreseen what would happen in 1992, when Sega and Digital Pictures released a game by the name of Night Trap.

Women, Augers, and controversy, oh my!
Night Trap, released in 1992, was an interactive motion picture, in which 5 girls are staying at a mansion. Said mansion is being invaded by creeps called Augers, who... kidnap the girls and suck out their blood? Okay then... The player, as a member of the Sega Control Attack Team (yes, the acronym is SCAT. Get your mind out of the gutter.), must protect the 5 girls from the Augers. If too many Augers go uncaptured or even one girl is caught, the game ends, and some dude in a mustache unplugs your controller.

This scene is why we can't have nice things.

Why is this game important enough to write about? This game, along with the Mortal Kombat series, is chiefly responsible for the creation of North America's modern ratings system, the Entertainment Software Ratings Board. It all started in 1993, when Senator Joe Liberman got a hold of some video games, including MK and Night Trap, eventually proclaiming that the industry was promoting violence to children.

This led to government hearings, ultimately resulting in the game being recalled from shelves, being edited, and re-released in 1994 with different artwork. Because of the recall, 1992 print run copies are incredibly rare. However, a game store in my hometown had the good fortune to come across over 200 copies of the game, and I was fortunate enough to snag one of their last good condition copies.

The game is currently on display, sitting on a shelf. I have no intentions of ever playing it, only of telling my children and grandchildren the story I just told you. I'm glad I could pass this important chapter in gaming history on to all of you readers.

Join me next time for another story from the annals of my video game career. Good-bye, and see you next article!

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