At this point gamers are probably used to the nanny-state censorship that often gets doled out by the Australian Board of Classification. The decision to ban the upcoming game We Happy Few is yet another disappointment to add to the list.
We Happy Few is an indie survival game set in a disturbingly different post-World War II dystopian society. The government enforces the prescription of a drug referred to as “Joy” which makes people happy, docile, and lacking basic morals.
The player’s avatar is one of three characters who refuse the hallucinogenic (or at least try to) in order to escape the city.
Despite the fact that Australia has had an R18+ rating for games since 2013, the Classification Board has decided that even adults can’t handle the game and just banned it all together. And all because of “Joy”.
According to the decision report from the Classification Board, which was provided to Kotaku Australia, drug use was the chief problem. It states, “Computer games will be refused classification if they include or contain ‘drug use related to incentives and rewards’.”
“A player that takes Joy can reduce gameplay difficulty, therefore receiving an incentive by progressing through the game quickly.” The report continues. “Although there are alternative methods to complete the game, gameplay requires the player to take Joy to progress.”
It’s not quite so simple though – while the game can be substantially more difficult when you skip your “Joy” pills, you also see sequences in which “Joy” has adverse effects and can lead to death.
“Joy” also keeps you under the hand of a dystopian government that you’re actively trying to escape so you could see that the game really has an anti-drug stance.
While violence abounds in games like Grand Theft Auto, where you are literally incentivised to kill sex workers, drug use has prompted the banning of games like Fallout 3, Crimecraft, Risen and now We Happy Few.
At the end of the day you can’t fight the irony that this game about an over-controlling government has been banned by our government. A decision one might call…over-controlling.
We Happy Few is set to come out everywhere else this Summer.
UPDATE 27/6: The classification board has received an appeal and will be reviewing the ban next month, according to Kotaku Australia.
The press release from the Board invites anyone keen to stand as an “interested party” for this review to have their say by writing to the Convenor of the Review Board.
Submissions close this Friday June 29 so if you if you want to give them a piece of your mind, get on it ASAP and send through your thoughts to: firstname.lastname@example.org or addressed to:
Classification Review Board
Locked Bag 3
HAYMARKET NSW 1240