Why didn't Night Trap work?

In a new feature -- an extract from the new book Generation Xbox that delves into the development of controversial 1990s game Night Trap -- the author delves into why it didn't work as a game.
In a new feature -- an extract from the new book Generation Xbox that delves into the development of the controversial 1990s game Night Trap -- there may be the answer to one simple question: why didn't it work as a game? In the early 1990s, CD-ROMs gave developers the capacity to include video on home console games for the first time. But the promised full motion video revolution never came; it's a footnote in video gaming history. Why didn't it work? Tom Zito, co-founder of Night Trap developer Digital Pictures, offers his take on why the form (which stirred up political controversy for its violence) didn't find favor with gamers: "We were trying to change the definition of a video game," says Zito. "[We thought that] if you give people what they're most used to, namely television, and make it interactive you've opened up a much bigger opportunity. [But] that may have been unfounded. In other words it may be that when people watch TV they don't want to interact with it. They just want to sit on the couch and become mindless." There's a simpler explanation, however. "We knew it was flawed and we were disappointed by the play experience that was generated by the project," says Barry Alperin, who headed up the project for Hasbro, the toy company who originally bankrolled the game's development. The full feature, which explains how experimental theater led directly to the B-movie cheese of Night Trap, is live now on Gamasutra.

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