The Untold Truth of Mortal Kombat: It Sparked the Creation of ESRB

The Mortal Kombat series was practically ubiquitous in the ’90s video game market. The movies brought our favourite MK characters to life, the games were available in arcades and on home consoles, and the conversation about Mortal Kombat jumped from the pages of GamePro and Electronic Gaming Monthly into the national dialogue, where politicians and parents questioned the game’s violent nature.

You’ve probably connected with Mortal Kombat in some fashion, whether through playing the games, seeing the movies, or reading about the series on CNN. You might assume you know everything there is to know, too.

However, there is a lot more to Mortal Kombat than meets the eye. There are innumerable tales associated with the land that you won’t find in your go-to gaming publication or on the evening news. These tales delve further into the origins, struggles, and current success of Mortal Kombat. To top it all off, we find them amusing.

President Bill Clinton Blamed Mortal Kombat for Inciting Violence Among the Columbine Shooters

The Untold Truth of Mortal Kombat

It’s probably no surprise that lawmakers have continued to place blame on video games despite the existence of the Entertainment Software Rating Board. They succeeded in having ratings placed on game cases, but when real-world acts of violence made headlines, some blamed violent video games.

Former President Bill Clinton was one of these politicians. After the tragic events at Columbine High School in 1999, President Clinton blamed the video game industry in his weekly radio address. He believed that the industry should resist the temptation to produce violent games.

Clinton argued that violent video games like Mortal Kombat, Killer Instinct, and Doom—the same game played obsessively by the two young men responsible for the Littleton massacre—involve youth more actively in simulated violence.

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The Untold Truth Of Mortal Kombat

  • Mortal Kombat Sparked the Creation of ESRB

Virtually every game trailer begins with a brief reminder that video games have progressed considerably since the Atari era. Those trailers usually include a “Rated T for Teen” disclaimer before the part you came to see starts. It was put there by the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB).

Fans of fighting games adored Mortal Kombat because of its blood, gore, and brutality. It also infuriated legislators and the parents of younger children who worried that the game would teach their youngsters to be violent.

The debate around Mortal Kombat and the video game industry as a whole reached a tipping point when companies feared being regulated by the government. As a means of self-regulation, major video game publishers formed the ESRB in 1994 to prevent just such an outcome.

The ESRB assigns ratings and places stickers on the packaging; the government does not regulate the content of video games. It has been successful thus far!

The Untold Truth of Mortal Kombat

  • Ten Months Were All It Took to Create the First Kombat Game

Nowadays, the process of making video games is very similar to that of making movies. Some games have extremely large budgets, not just for making but also for promoting the product. Writers are crafting a narrative that offers an engaging story, while directors are putting together key cinematic moments.

In addition, the time it takes to accomplish everything can be quite lengthy. To give you an idea of how long a game may be in development, consider Sony’s The Last Guardian, which was in the works for over nine years.

However, finishing the first Mortal Kombat game didn’t take too long. It only took the team ten months to finish.

When you stop to consider it, that’s a really astounding reality. It’s impressive that Midway Entertainment was able to not only make a good fighting game in such a short amount of time, but also come up with unique concepts like the game’s protagonist and the game’s general atmosphere.

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  • Mileena Was Featured in the Playboy Magazine

There’s no denying that the Mortal Kombat games have catered to the erotic appeal of its female characters. Mileena, Kitana, and Jade send a clear message with the provocative clothing they wear. Not only does Mortal Kombat include this feature, but so do other fighting games. In particular, the Dead or Alive franchise.

While previous hyper-sexualized fighting games have featured characters like Mileena in magazines like Playboy, Mortal Kombat went a step farther.

Mortal Kombat has always been more of an adult game than one for children. Though Mortal Kombat’s protagonists aren’t exactly on the covers of pin-up magazines these days, the series is still heavily investing in another form of mature content: gore.

The Untold Truth of Mortal Kombat

  • The Console Version of Mortal Kombat Eliminates Blood

Fighting is inflicting harm on an opponent with a variety of tools, including fists, swords, and magical abilities. A roundhouse kick to the face is not like a tender hug, and a katana to the stomach is not funny. This only adds more mystery to the criticism Mortal Kombat received for its graphic depiction of violence. 

Numerous types of blood were present in the original Mortal Kombat. When a character was punched, kicked, or hit in the stomach with a Scorpion spear, blood gushed forth. During a Fatality, a final blow that could end in the ripping off of a head or the severing of a spine, even more blood flowed like a fountain.

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While the arcade version of Mortal Kombat was drenched in gore, the Super Nintendo Entertainment System and Genesis home platform releases opted to use sweat instead of blood. If you owned a Sega Genesis, you could enter a cheat code that brought back the game’s authentic crimson blood.

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