Australia has incredibly strict censorship laws, especially when it comes to video games. We Happy Few was the most recent video game to face the Australian Classification Board (ACB). This game was at risk of becoming unavailable to Australian audiences when it’s released on August 10th, 2018.
The ACB released a statement last week announcing that they would reconsider their initial ruling of completely banning the game. News broke yesterday (7/3/18) that We Happy Few would receive an R18+ rating instead of being completely banned from the country. This all comes after their decision in May where the ACB said the game incentivized drug use. A made-up drug called “Joy” is a primary plot point in the game and that was considered to cross a line.
“A three-member panel of the Classification Review Board has unanimously determined that the computer game We Happy Few is classified R18+ (Restricted) with the consumer advice Fantasy violence and interactive drug use,” read the official statement from the Classification Review Board.
Banning video games in Australia was a much more common occurrence before 2011. Before then, Australia could only rate video games up to MA15+ (similar to T in the United States). R18+ was reserved only for film, and video games with similar content would be completely banned from the country as the appropriate classification wasn’t available. In July and August of 2011, the Australian Attorneys-General finally opened up the R18+ rating for video games as well.
We Happy Few almost made it on this list above before the ACB came to their senses and awarded this video game an R18+ rating. Australia takes its censorship extremely seriously. There have been many games like the massively popular Left 4 Dead 2 that were initially banned from the country, but only after a highly edited version of the original game was it made available.
Since the R18+ rating began covering video games, Australian audiences have been granted access to some of the most popular titles on the global market. This was arguably the most important development in the Australian video game industry in the past 10 years. Especially now, as video games become more realistic, there’s no telling which hits would have never made it to the massive island country.
Gigamax Games played the alpha of We Happy Few before the substantial updates the game received over the past year. This interesting universe was a colorful world filled with mystery and imagination. Gamers in Australia would have missed out on a potentially incredible adventure if the R18+ rating still didn’t cover video games.
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