After the Australian Classification Board refused to give We Happy Few a classification effectively preventing the game from being sold in the country, Compulsion Games has spoken out about their intend to deal with this issue.
The studio has already addressed the issue regarding Australian backers of the games, explaining that they will issue refunds if they are unable to work something out with the board. A studio spokesperson issued the following statement:
To our Australian fans, we share your frustration. We will work with the ACB on the classification. If the government maintains its stance, we will make sure that you can get a refund, and we will work directly with affected Kickstarter backers to figure something out. We would appreciate if you give us a little bit of time to appeal the decision before making a call.
The main reason behind the game’s ban is the fact that the story involves the use of drugs. For those unfamiliar with the game’s story, it takes place in a dystopian future where the government controls the population by administering a drug called “Joy to the Public”. The main character is a former government employee who escapes into the wilderness and must survive on his own while avoiding the state police. The problem is that the depiction of positive drug use in any capacity is deemed as offensive material, as it may promote drug use.
While the game’s overall message is an anti-drug stance, the player is able to take the drug himself to help him move around in public without being detected. Due to this fact, the game encourages drug use without negative consequences, and that was enough to justify the refusal. This isn’t the first time games have been refused classification by the Australian Classification Board, as games like Fallout 3 and South Park: Stick Of Truth were barred for similar reasons. While the developers are working on negotiations with the board, it is uncertain if the game will ever reach the shores of Australia. We will just have to wait and see how this hole ordeal pans out.
As for my opinion on the matter, while I do believe in free speech and that video games fall under speech, those ideas do not apply in this situation because it is taking place overseas. The Australian government seems to have their heart in the right place, but by denying the depiction of drug use, they are effectively shutting down talk about the problem itself. A good piece of media makes people think about the issue rather than provide them with just an answer.
For more news on We Happy Few, stick with us at Geekisphere.
This is Ethan Snell, signing off.