Night Trap is now infamous because of its part in the 1990s Congressional hearings on offensive video game material. Night Trap, Mortal Kombat, Lethal Enforcers and Doom are cited as primary factors in leading to the development of the ESRB game industry ratings system.
On December 16, 1993, the SEGA CD version of Night Trap was removed from store shelves at Toys "R" Us and F.A.O. Schwarz locations in the United States in direct response to a December 9, 1993 joint Senate Judiciary and Government Affairs Committee hearing on video game violence. The hearings were covered heavily by the media and were co-chaired by Senators Joseph Lieberman (Connecticut) and Herbert H. Kohl (Wisconsin), during which Night Trap was cited as "shameful", "ultra-violent", "sick", and "disgusting", encouraging an "effort to trap and kill women". Contrary to such claims, players are not trapping or killing women, but are saving them from harm.
The Congressional hearings were covered in major newspapers including USA Today, The Washington Post and The New York Times. In particular, a game over scene in which the character Lisa is wearing a nightgown while captured by Augers attempting to drain her blood was found to be very offensive, given the circumstances in which she is attacked (scantily clad in a private bathroom). In defense of the game, Tom Zito (President and CEO of Digital Pictures) attempted to explain the context of the nightgown scene during a hearing session, but he claims he was silenced. In the short documentary Dangerous Games (included with the PC version), the producers and some members of the cast explain that the plot of the game was to in fact prevent the trapping and killing of women. In addition, the blood draining device was intended to look very unrealistic and would therefore mitigate the violence. Despite scenes in which the girls are grabbed or pulled by enemies, no nudity or extreme acts of violence were ever filmed or incorporated into the game.Additionally, Night Trap's box art was criticized by interest groups for what many believed to be a sexist depiction (see above). In 1994, after the controversy died down, the game was ported to 3DO and Sega 32X, and for PC and Mac in 1995. All of these versions were released with a new cover depicting a tame screenshot of Dana Plato from the game, with decorative artwork in the background.