Game Secrets, Interviews, Sega Retro

Sega Plays Dangerous Games

The American government recently made an attempt to enact rules to regulate protection of intellectual properties and to take down piracy. Thanks to the millions of people who shared their anger for overbearing protection and angry high school kids cheating on their homework, both the SOPA and PIPA bills have been suspended for reconsideration. What great timing for this, and the re-release of Sonic CD for PC platforms via Steam, as it lets us recall an incident as early as 1993 during the US Senate hearings for violent video games.

If you recall the lengthy retrospective on the Sega Mega CD, as well as another one of its landmark titles, Night Trap, the developers put out a short documentary named “Dangerous Games” regarding their perspective during and after the hearings from producers, actors as well as avid ‘gamers.’

Granted, there is probably a certain level of bias coming from a few of these people. After all, they all got a kick out of the ’80s-esque campy presentation of the game where the most violent scene in the game revolved around draining helpless victims for blood through one of the most ridiculous pieces of machinery this side of science fiction. Concerned parents who probably didn’t grow up watching Mystery Science Theater 3000 were warded off as word of mouth slowly formed for Night Trap into this off-putting description of a snuff film. Democratic Senator Byron Dorgan expressed his opinion, among the dozens of other soundbite generators labeling Night Trap as “trash, child abuse, sick, disgusting,” and bluntly stating that the Night Trap developers, along with the other developers under fire have gone too far.

The game was pulled from select store shelves despite high demand, selling over a million copies. Consumers were confused by its sudden disappearance. However it would eventually see a reprint with a new cover as part of the result that was met after the hearings concluded. Even the actors, including the game’s star Dana Plato were surprised when the game was pulled. They would defend the game to the point of asking critics if they have “ever played it.” Digital Pictures’ producer Tom Zito, who wanted to speak out for his game, claims he was told that there probably wouldn’t be enough time for him to speak during the hearing. He faced trouble when senators shunned him for not making it to the hearing. When Zito attempted to take the floor, he was silenced as he appeared to be disrupting the floor.

While they weren’t going to win any favors from those lobbying against the industry as a whole, it did help create the modern day video game ratings system. Despite Sega’s efforts to introduce their own ratings system at the same time to notify potential buyers of what to expect inside their purchased software, it would be discontinued in favor of the Entertainment Software Ratings Board. The ESRB would become the industry’s answer to avoid government regulation and to inform consumers.

Video games have continued to be the whipping boy of watchdog groups, lobbyists and politicians to ensure the safety and protection of children from these creations. But it is still an interesting viewpoint to witness, at least in America, of an era that will still favor the voice of the consumer, the developer who only produce content to entertain, and keep these occupations strong.


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    Thanks for the article, as it was relevant, and appreciated as such.

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    That was awesome to see.

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    Dana Plato foreshadows her own death in this interview. Spooky.

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    Proof that the gov’t needs to just stay out of micromanaging this stuff. They can’t even manage themselves…so why on earth should they be managing the internet!

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    “As a movie it’s boring, as a game it’s not really that violent, but who you expect politicians to be smart enough to figure out that sometimes characters in videogames die?”
    – Cinema Snob


    Pretty much this. And oh yeah, some people manage to cut cutscenes from games to combine them the entire length movie.

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    1993, it was video games and now it was the Internet…. The government loves to turn the subject around on other things that don’t have to do with fixing the economy or the major problem that’s going on at the time. A wise man once said “Snooping as usual, I see?”

    ….. Ok, maybe it wasn’t a wise man, but it still fits the 1993 situation and the whole SOPA/PIPA fiasco very well.

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    i bet they are doing this crap is because of this: “oh we got everything now! but we need something to cushion us if we lose money! i know, lets get the video games industry into trouble by ranting about anything that looks violent, and give all the major media companies the tools to download thier movies and let them share them with everyone, and let them tell us to put a new bill to end this downloading and sue everyone whos been using these tools! we can make so much money and begin a dictatorship with slave camps for those who we got to extradit over to the USA! (im using what i know after Jeepersmedia’s 3-part video about SOPA)

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    Another reason why the government proves that they don’t actually look into the situation first. They dive right in.

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    The government is entirely reactionary. As opposed to revising old laws or plan out new ones overtime, they just throw out there what they deem neccesary for protection with as little knowledge as possible. Recalling the hearings for SOPA (I believe it was that one.) Politicians who were in favor of the bill immediately followed up by saying something along the lines of “I don’t understand it.” It is a mixture of corporate greed and lack of intelligence of how technology works. Even if these bills are to pass, they will be challenged by people who are more knowledgible on technology and ways to combat piracy and the ever dreadful “Cyber Crime.”

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