Mortal Kombat, one of the games responsible for the formation of the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB), thanks to its bloody fatalities raising the ire of politicians like Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman and Wisconsin Senator Herb Kohl, will return to the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in 2011.
The title will be published by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and is in development by NetherRealm Studios, which is wholly owned by the WB. Legendary Ed Boon is helming the project and promised, “This game really is a response to what players have been demanding: mature presentation, reinvented 2D fighting mechanic and the best, most gruesome fatalities ever!”
In a nice bit of timing, Gamasutra today is running an excerpt from the book Replay: The History of Video Games by Tristan Donovan that focuses on the uproar violent videogames caused in the 1990s.
The excerpt begins with the unlikely pairing of Lieberman and captain Kangaroo uniting to decry the violence found in videogames:
On Wednesday 1st December 1994, the Washington press corps gathered for a press conference called by Joseph Lieberman, the Democrat Senator for Connecticut. Next to Lieberman on the stage was Bob Keeshan, aka Captain Kangaroo -- the USA's favorite Saturday morning kids' TV presenter.
Once the assorted reporters had taken their seats, they were shown footage from two of the latest video games to reach the market. In one scene a digital image of an actor playing a martial arts fighter ripped the still-beating heart out of his opponent's chest.
The controversy also served to make game publishers realize how out of the loop they were in Washington and, initially, led to different companies forming different strategies:
Sega, with its more teenage audience, wanted an age rating system so it could carry on publishing games featuring violence. Nintendo, on the other hand, saw little need for an age rating system as it had its own family friendly policies that it applied to all games released on its console.
But with the pressure on, the U.S.'s leading game companies agreed to back an age-rating system that would be managed by the industry itself in the hope of defusing the row.