Who would have thought that Dana Plato (Dif'frent Strokes) would change video game history? But Night Trap, along with Mortal Kombat and Lethal Enforcers, led the government to get on their soapbox and unite behind a pressing cause, video game violence.
If you were to believe what Senator Joe Lieberman said, then you would have to think that Night Trap simulated a virtual rape, beheadings, and other sadistic acts. Of course, there was no forced sex, no heads being chopped off, and really, nothing more damaging than a Full House marathon.
Using these so-called violent games as an issue proved popular, and would be called into play in future elections. It also would plant a
seed that could grow into an excuse for social tragedies, like Columbine (Doom) or the Washington D.C. area sniper (Grand Theft Auto III).
The Other Side:
We shouldn't feel alone, after all the music industry had been under fire with artists like Prince, Twisted Sister, and Judas Priest. Heck, some of these bands had even been brought into court on suicide related charges. And only a year later a the movie industry would come under fire thanks to such films as Natural Born Killers and Pulp Fiction.
A decade earlier there was outrage over teenagers playing Dungeons & Dragons. But at that time it was nothing more than a few religious groups, and politicians with opinions. With movies, music, and videogames, the violence and sexual content was used as a political platform.
These government hearings regarding violence in video games did manage to spur on the invention of a rating system. First Sega acted by creating their own system, then an industry wide organization was founded. To this day the rating system has be used on every game released in the United States.
These days the talk is less about a rating system than it is Grand Theft Auto. Even with the government breathing
over the industries shoulders, more and more violent video games are released every year. This year alone we saw Hitman 2, Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance, and something called Vice City.
Where Are They Now?:
Senator Joseph Lieberman has had a rocky road since the days of Night Trap. In 2000 Joe ran unsuccessfully for Vice President of the United States of America with Al Gore. These days he is out spoken on topics of national security, a war against Iraq, and making sure the internet is safe for our children, and our children's children (not that he's for underage sex). It should also be noted that his official website lists "pushing the video game industry to create a rating system to help parents make informed choices for their children" as one of his achievements.
Digital Pictures would make a number of full motion videogames, none of which would get the attention of Night Trap. After America woke up and realized that Full Motion Videogames were nothing more than a bad VCR experience, Digital Pictures found it difficult to make money, and eventually closed shop.