The Videogame Rating Council (V.R.C.) was introduced by Sega of America in 1993 to rate all video games that were released for sale in the United States and Canada on the Sega Master System, Genesis, Game Gear, Sega CD, and Pico. The rating had to be clearly displayed on the front of the box, but their appearance in advertisements for the video game was strictly optional. It was later supplanted by the industry-wide Entertainment Software Rating Board.
As the 16-bit era of video games began in the late 1980s, their content became more realistic. The increased graphical and audio fidelity of the products made violent scenes appear more explicit, especially those containing blood.As controversy stemmed around the realism of this violence, 1992 games Mortal Kombat and Night Trap entered the limelight. Mortal Kombat is a "brutal" fighting game and Night Trap is a full-motion video Sega CD game where players protect a slumber party from vampires. The games were at the center of federal hearings held from December 9, 1993 to March 4, 1994 by United States Senators Joseph Lieberman and Herbert Kohl. . One quote that explains how Lieberman felt about video games during one of these trials is “Instead of enriching a child’s mind... these games teach a child to enjoy inflicting torture.”. As a result, the video game industry was given a year to create its own classification system or to otherwise have one imposed on them by the federal government.
Prior to the hearings, Sega had become aware of rumblings from politicians that video game content was being scrutinized. As Sega was preparing to release the controversial Mortal Kombat for the Sega Genesis, the company worked to create its own rating system so that they would be able to market Mortal Kombat as a mature game not intended for children. Sega initially tried to license the Motion Picture Association of America's (MPAA) own rating system, but the MPAA refused.Instead, Sega created its own Videogame Rating Council (VRC) and revealed its existence on May 24, 1993. The council consisted of experts in education, psychology, and sociology as appointed by Sega. The VRC was one of several ratings groups to appear (among them, 3DO's 3DO Rating System). The VRC classified games that worked with Sega's consoles into three categories based on age: GA ("general audiences"), MA-13 ("mature audiences"), and MA-17 ("for adults"). It was criticized by journalists and consumer groups for vagueness and inconsistency, and other companies did not want Sega to be in charge of the ratings organization. This was particularly true for Nintendo, which was in rivalry with Sega in the North American video game market at this time. The lead editorial in the January 1994 issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly also criticized Sega for failing to inform and educate the public on the ratings system, particularly noting that the ratings appeared on the game boxes but usually not in advertisements for the games, and that most parents "either haven't a clue as to what [Sega's ratings] mean, don't know that they exist, or don't know why the game got the rating."
Following the hearings, the games industry created the Interactive Digital Software Association in April 1994, which made a proposal for a rating system. The proposal was adopted by the United States Congress in July 1994 and the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) was founded in September to execute the plan.The VRC ultimately folded that year when replaced by the ESRB. VRC ratings had been used on several hundred games made by Sega and others.
The three different ratings were as follows:
|GA—General Audiences: Appropriate for all audiences. No blood or graphic violence. No profanity, no mature sexual themes and no usage of drugs or alcohol.|
|MA-13—Mature Audiences: Parental Discretion Advised. The game was suitable for audiences thirteen years of age or older (or teenagers). Game could have some blood in it and more graphic violence than a "GA" game.|
|MA-17—Mature Audiences: Not appropriate for minors. The game was suitable for audiences seventeen years of age or older. Games could have lots of blood, graphic violence, mature sexual themes, profanity, drug or alcohol usage.|
|NYR or, Not Yet Rated: This rating only appeared in advertising and indicated that the game had not yet been rated by the V.R.C. The modern equivalents would be ESRB's RP (Rating Pending) rating and PEGI's TBC label.|
The rating symbols appear above in their standard black and white format, but were typically recolored when appearing on actual box art.
While rival console manufacturer Nintendo enforced strict content guidelines for games released on its hardware, Sega differentiated itself with a more liberal content policy, allowing for the depiction of blood and graphic violence in software released on its home consoles, provided that the publisher label the game's packaging with a generic "Parental Advisory" warning.
Such an advisory was put on the packaging for the following games: Techno Cop , Splatterhouse 2 , Death Duel .
However, nudity and other sexual content remained taboo. Games made for Sega systems generally toned down sexual content.
The nude fairies found in Stormlord were given some scantily clad attire when the game was ported over to the Sega Genesis.
Similarly, when Sega localized Phantasy Star II for western consumers, it edited dialogue in the game to obscure a non-playable character's homosexuality.
The video game company Acclaim brought Mortal Kombat to the Genesis and Super NES in 1993. Both Sega and Nintendo ordered the game's graphic violence and blood to be toned down.
However, Sega allowed the player to restore the controversial content with a secret code, announced the creation of the Videogame Rating Council and gave Mortal Kombat an MA-13 rating. The result was that the Sega Genesis version of Mortal Kombat outsold the Super NES version. However, the commercial success of the game, including a marketing campaign by Acclaim to prepare consumers for "Mortal Monday", and the fact that the Videogame Rating Council opened the doorway for games to be sold on a Sega console system with adult content promoted national outrage.
The Sega CD, released as the Mega-CD in most regions outside North America and Brazil, is a CD-ROM accessory for the Mega Drive/Genesis designed and produced by Sega as part of the fourth generation of video game consoles. It was released on December 12, 1991 in Japan, October 15, 1992 in North America, and April 2, 1993 in Europe. The Sega CD plays CD-based games and adds hardware functionality such as a faster central processing unit and graphic enhancements. It can also play audio CDs and CD+G discs.
The 3DO Company, also known as 3DO, was a video game company. It was founded in 1991 by Electronic Arts, Microsoft and founder Trip Hawkins, in a partnership with seven other companies. After 3DO's flagship video game console, the 3DO Interactive Multiplayer, failed in the marketplace, the company exited the hardware business and became a third-party video game developer. It went bankrupt in 2007 due to poor sales of its games. Its headquarters were in Redwood City, California in the San Francisco Bay Area.
The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) is an American self-regulatory organization that assigns age and content ratings to consumer video games. The ESRB was established in 1994 by the Entertainment Software Association, in response to criticism of controversial video games with excessively violent or sexual content, particularly after the 1993 congressional hearings following the releases of Mortal Kombat and Night Trap for home consoles. The industry, pressured with potential government oversight of video game ratings from these hearings, established both the IDSA and the ESRB within it to create a voluntary ratings system based on the Motion Picture Association of America film rating system with additional considerations for video game interactivity.
In the history of computer and video games, the fourth generation of game consoles began on October 30, 1987 with the Japanese release of NEC Home Electronics' PC Engine. Although NEC released the first console of this era, sales were mostly dominated by the rivalry between Nintendo's and Sega's consoles in North America: the Super Nintendo Entertainment System and the Sega Genesis. Handheld systems released during this time include the Nintendo Game Boy, released in 1989, and the Sega Game Gear, first released in 1990.
Night Trap is an interactive movie video game developed by Digital Pictures and originally released by Sega for the Sega CD in 1992. The game is presented primarily through the use of full motion video (FMV). In Night Trap, the player takes the role of a special agent tasked to watch over teenage girls having a sleepover visiting a house which, unbeknownst to them, is full of danger. The player watches live surveillance footage of the house and triggers traps to capture anyone seen endangering the girls. The player can freely switch their view between different cameras to keep watch over the girls and eavesdrop on conversations to follow the story and listen for clues.
The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) is the trade association of the video game industry in the United States. It was formed in April 1994 as the Interactive Digital Software Association (IDSA) and renamed on July 21, 2003. It is based in Washington, D.C. Most of the top publishers in the gaming world are members of the ESA, including Capcom, Electronic Arts, Konami, Microsoft, Bandai Namco Entertainment, Nintendo, Sony Interactive Entertainment, Square Enix, Take-Two Interactive, Ubisoft, and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment.
Video game censorship are efforts by an authority to limit access, censor content, or regulate video games or specific video games due to the nature of their content.
Mortal Kombat II is a fighting game originally produced by Midway for the arcades in 1993. It was later ported to multiple home systems, including the MS-DOS, Amiga, Game Boy, Game Gear, Sega Genesis, 32X, Sega Saturn, Super Nintendo Entertainment System, and PlayStation only in Japan, mostly in licensed versions developed by Probe Entertainment and Sculptured Software and published by Acclaim Entertainment.
1994 has seen many sequels and prequels in video games and several new titles such as Super Metroid, Donkey Kong Country and Sonic & Knuckles.
1992 has seen many sequels and prequels in video games and several new titles such as Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins, Art of Fighting, Super Mario Kart, and Mortal Kombat.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) characters have been depicted in video games since the 1980s. In the history of video games, LGBT characters have been almost nonexistent for a long time, reflecting the overall heteronormativity of the medium. While there has been a trend towards greater representation of LGBT people in video games, they are frequently identified as LGBT in secondary material, such as comics, rather than in the games themselves. Gamesradar’s Sam Greer pored through thousands of gaming titles and found 179 games with any LGTB representation: Of those 179 games, only 83 have queer characters who are playable characters. And of those, only eight feature a main character who is pre-written as queer as opposed to them being queer as an option
Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 is a fighting game in the Mortal Kombat series, developed and released by Midway to arcades in 1995. It is a standalone update of 1995's earlier Mortal Kombat 3 with an altered gameplay system, additional characters like the returning favorites Kitana and Scorpion who were missing from Mortal Kombat 3, and some new features.
Shaq Fu is a 2D fighting game released for the Sega Mega Drive / Genesis and Super Nintendo Entertainment System on October 28, 1994. It was ported to the Sega Game Gear, Nintendo Game Boy, and Commodore Amiga platforms in 1995. The game was published by Electronic Arts and developed by the now-defunct Delphine Software International. It features former professional basketball player Shaquille "Shaq" O'Neal as the player character. Shaq Fu was met with mixed responses from critics upon release, though it has since come to be considered one of the worst video games ever made.
The Sega Genesis, known as the Mega Drive outside North America, is a 16-bit fourth generation home video game console developed and sold by Sega. The Genesis is Sega's third console and the successor to the Master System. Sega released it as the Mega Drive in Japan in 1988, and later as the Genesis in North America in 1989. In 1990, it was distributed as the Mega Drive by Virgin Mastertronic in Europe, Ozisoft in Australasia, and Tec Toy in Brazil. In South Korea, it was distributed by Samsung as the Super Gam*Boy and later the Super Aladdin Boy.
The Recreational Software Advisory Council (RSAC) was an independent, non-profit organization founded in the U.S. in 1994 by the Software Publishers Association as well as six other industry leaders in response to video game controversy and threats of government regulation.
Don James is an American video game executive and currently serves as the executive vice president of operations for Nintendo of America.
Mortal Kombat is an arcade fighting game developed and published by Midway in 1992 as the first title in the Mortal Kombat series. It was subsequently released by Acclaim Entertainment for nearly every home platform of the time. The game focuses on several characters of various intentions who enter a martial arts tournament with worldly consequences. It introduced many key aspects of the Mortal Kombat series, including the unique five-button control scheme and gory finishing moves called Fatalities.
Video gaming in the United States is one of the fastest-growing entertainment industries in the country. According to a 2010 study released by the Entertainment Software Association, the computer and the video game industry added $4.9 billion to the economy of the United States. There are some estimates that by 2015 the worldwide gaming industry will possibly reach $70.1 billion.
The Mortal Kombat series of fighting games, created by Ed Boon and John Tobias, has been the subject of various controversies since its creation in the 1990s. In particular, Mortal Kombat has often been criticised from a broad spectrum of politicians and other critics for its unrestrained use of graphic and bloody violence. The violent nature of the series, one of the earliest of its kind, has led to the creation and continued presence of the Entertainment Software Rating Board and other ratings boards for video games. Various Mortal Kombat games have been censored or banned in several countries, and the franchise was the subject of several court cases.
On December 7, 1993, and March 5, 1994, members of the combined United States Senate Committees on Governmental Affairs and the Judiciary held congressional hearings with several spokespersons for companies in the video game industry including Nintendo and Sega, involving violence in video games and the perceived impacts on children. The hearing was a result of concerns raised by members of the public on the 1993 releases of Night Trap and Mortal Kombat for home consoles. Besides general concerns related to violence in video games, the situation had been inflamed by a moral panic over gun violence, as well as the state of the industry and an intense rivalry between Sega and Nintendo.