So R18+ still means something different for games in Australia

Once again, proof that our government doesn’t entirely give us what we ask for.

A few years ago, games lobbyists in Australia seemed to finally have a win in regards to adult content in games. By adult content, I am not talking about porn in video games, but adult topics that are shown on primetime TV and movies.

But as I discussed last year with the refusal of classification of We Happy Few, what we can see on TV for 20+ years still isn’t acceptable for games.

A large part of this is because games are still thought of as politicians as a child’s pastime. The fact that repeated surveys show the average age of gamers in Australia is closer to 35 than 15 doesn’t seem to be a factor in changing the rules.

The description is that same as for films, but it's not the case

What we got was the R18+ rating, sure. On the surface what we asked for. What we didn’t get was a change to the rules for Refusing Classification – the regulations that banned more games than the lack of an ‘adult only’ rating.

Like Fallout 3 years ago, We Happy Few was refused classification last year because of drug use. Not just drug use, but the fact you are seen by the rules as rewarded for taking drugs. If you look at the context of the game, this is not the case, and the classification was revised.

This was still an issue more than 10 years ago. How?

The change was only skin deep.

An update is coming for We Happy Few that required the game to resubmitted. Now the original Refused Classification rules have come back into play.

DayZ, a zombie survival shooter that has been digitally available for years, has been refused classification. Why? Because the players could use marijuana. And the bigger joke was marijuana didn’t do anything yet – the devs hadn’t implemented the feature.

Today this has been revised because the devs changed the game to remove the drug.

Don’t misunderstand, rating DayZ R18+ because of illegal drug use I consider reasonable. What isn’t is that adults can watch shows like Weeds or Narcos as a choice.

The problem is the base rules for refusing classification didn’t change. So if you have a game aimed at children where they get medicine from their parent to heal boo-boos, and that shows incentivized drug use. The refused classification verdict must be handed down.

DayZ. I never played it, but why should grown adults be refused the choice?

Why are you talking about We Happy Few again?

I keep talking about We Happy Few, and that is for a good reason. The gameplay is similar to A Clockwork Orange, considered a film masterpiece. But add ‘Hit X to take Joy’, and all bets are off.

Both A Clockwork Orange and We Happy Few are a known quantity to the mainstream, so that makes it handy as a quick example. But what about the last few weeks?

Rocksteady has been refused classification for Bonaire – and we don’t even know what it is. The thinking was a Red Dead Redemption 2 expansion, but only Rocksteady knows for sure.

Another high profile game coming up with various drug use is Cyberpunk 2077. With this recent spate of refusals, there is once again a genuine chance Australians will not be able to play it. Legally, anyway.

Cyberpunk 2077 Paramedics
Not the drug use the board is worried about, but drugs are a huge part of the Cyberpunk RPG

The biggest joke to me? I don’t even play We Happy Few. Reviews came out that things weren’t great, so I didn’t play it. I was going to play it sometime on Game Pass, but it looks like that might not happen now.

But it’s only a few games – what’s the problem?

Yes, it’s only a few games. There are so many other vitally essential fights happening at the moment. But it also shows what the Australian government and we as people have become. The message we sent previously was to rate interactive media (video games) the same as film and literature. What we got was a rating (yay) that because of a completely different set of rules means nothing. It was lip service to the majorities wishes.

It’s the same as when you only have $50, and a salesman offers you a new Tesla for half price. It doesn’t matter what the price is. I don’t have the money. Make the game adults only? That’s fine, but because the classification board can’t classify the game, it doesn’t matter what the rating is.

And if the government does this for simple things, think about what they do for things that matter. Yes, this is a political rant. But if you think I am picking on a party, remember that we didn’t get R18+ for years because of one man – South Australian Attorney-General Michael Atkinson. He didn’t want it, so it didn’t happen. What finally got through was a flawed bill that showed action but did nothing.

Sure it would be nice, but you can do a lot with the asking price

The video game rating issue demonstrates beautifully has become of the Australian political system. And everyone in the system seems to be fighting tooth and nail to keep it that way.

So what can we do about this?

We need to be aware that the Australian system has problems. Australia has the most closed democracy system anywhere. We are one of the few democracies that doesn’t have protected freedom of speech for its population. For politicians, there is protection.

The party system has demonstrated more and more that the system is there for the politicians first. The NBN is a simple example of this. How much money has been wasted following the existing US system of multi-vendor technology?

New Zealand proved that the original fibre plan costings were correct. Implementation was expensive to begin with but got cheaper as the rollout continued. New Zealand is now ranked 17th in the world for internet speeds. Australia is 50th and doesn’t meet the definition of ‘high-speed broadband’ anymore.

Now the fibre plan had problems as well, and this is important to remember. Because of Australia’s widely spread population, rural areas did need something else to connect them, but well over 90% of the country would have been better off. The people winning with the multi-vendor solutions? Companies, and mainly Telstra at that. Why is Telstra more important than 90% of the people the government is supposed to represent?

These are landline speeds. We are great at wireless speed, but think of mobile data plan costs.

I have given two examples of things that are important to me personally. Games are admittedly a luxury. Internet in today’s world is a need.

Look at what issues are important to you, and look at what your representative is doing about it. If you don’t know, ask. It is their job to answer you.

I’ve said it before and will continue to do so. If we can come together on the little things, imagine what we can do for the important ones. A simple view of democracy is majority rules, but the top 10% seems to be controlling this country.

OK, rant over. Back to games with tomorrows review 🙂

Until then,

JohnHQLD

Monopoly for Millennials is real and I don’t know how I feel

Monopoly for Millennials Front

Is this maybe taking the joke a little too far?

People that know me understand (to varying degrees) I have a really dark sense of humour.  Part coping mechanism, part twisted humour, part just wrong – whatever the cause, it’s just something I have.

I have also tried to point out on this site that Governments today are taking things too far.  Partly out of apathy to the people they are supposed to represent, partly out of personal greed, even partly just being so out of touch with today’s realities.  There are lots of reasons why political systems are breaking down, and why politicians need a wake-up call.

What has all this got to do with anything?  The latest Hasbro release of Monopoly has both sides of this clashing within me.

On the surface, Monopoly for Millennials is a less cutthroat version of Monopoly where players are looking at enjoying life with experience rather than chasing the almighty dollar.  Think Tokaido, but in Monopoly form.

On the surface.

What has me is the tagline on the front of the box:

Forget Real Estate.  You can’t afford it anyway.

Monopoly for Millennials Front
This is real. And even for someone with as dark a sense of humour as I have, that tag line is a little much.

Now as I have said, I have a dark sense of humour.  In many situations, this something like this would make me smile or even let out a chuckle.

For some reason though, I am actually finding this a bit offensive.  Now I am approaching my mid-40’s.  I have watched housing booms and busts and made it through the Global Financial Crisis of 07-09.  Currently, I am watching the cost of living outstrip average wages in Australia.

Now, this is the situation in Australia, and not where Hasbro focuses their attention.  But Australia is mirroring the issues with the US with an insane level of passion.

The divide between the ‘have’ and ‘have-nots’ is widening every year, with many indications that this is only going to increase going forward.  This unfortunately is not an Australian issue though, and where I think I may be being a bit precious on this release.

Now a new Monopoly can be a novel experience, and some hit and some miss.  And the idea of a new way of playing a game is always something I am on the lookout for.

Monopoly for Millennials Back
Now the idea behind the retheme is something I can get behind, but I can't shake the feeling of someone taking the joke too far

But when items like this are mass produced and put in shops like Walmart, I am not sure how to take it.  Now Monopoly Cheater’s Edition is a similar game with dark humour overtones, but for some reason that edition just makes me laugh.

But a game actively advertising to young players (this is the 8+ range remember?) to forget ever being able to afford property even in a game, something isn’t sitting right with me.

Your salary for passing go? $20.  Now base wages have been getting harder and harder to make last like they used to, and this is a novel way of illustrating the fact.  But at the end of the day, this is still a Monopoly game, and the game is illustrating just how hard it is to start out these days.

Maybe I am missing the point. Maybe I just saw the game existed when I got out of the wrong side of the bed.  Truthfully, I am not sure.  But this feels like you are paying the creators for pointing out how kicked in the teeth you are about to be in life.  I can almost see the joke, but it keeps eluding me.

Monopoly for Millennials Contents
$20 for passing go, and $20 for Avo on Toast? I have a weird sense of humour, but this seems to be cutting too close to home

What do you think?  Is this a version of Monopoly you would actively track down and play?  Am I just being overly sensitive for some unknown reason?  Let me know on the Facebook Page or Twitter!

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Telltale’s The Walking Dead Final Season is being finished by Skybound

The Walking Dead The Final Season Feature

Great news for fans, not so much for Telltale employees still

It’s been a hard couple of weeks for Telltale fans.  It has been harder on Telltale employees.  On Friday the 21st of September, almost everyone turned up for another Friday – just business as usual.  The Walking Dead: The Final Season Episode 2 was due to ship the following week, everything was going as expected, but then the worst news possible was delivered.

Effective immediately, around 250 employees were told they no longer had a job.  No explanation, no severance, just so long and (I hope) thanks.

The community answered strongly with support and job opportunities, but it doesn’t help lessen the blow to so many people.  The skeleton staff that was remaining to complete Minecraft: Story Mode with Netflix about a week later.

The Walking Dead: The Final Season started being pulled from sale, and fans were left wondering what would become of a story that they were halfway through.

Yesterday, they were answered.

Now, selfishly I am glad this final chapter is being finished.  Telltales Walking Dead not only got me interested in the series again but wove a tale that has me genuinely caring about what becomes of Clementine.

I also enjoy many of the other episodic Telltale adventures, and I was especially looking forward to Wolf Among Us 2.  But I had also been bitten with buggy episode releases and an erratic release schedule, so I start buying Telltale games when they are complete and not before.

Given Telltale’s financial situation, I may not have been alone.  This may have contributed to the fall of the software house, as if most of their sales were coming after a game has finished that is a lot of money the company continues to pay out.

While this is all great news for fans, it’s still not great for Telltale’s staff.  They are looking for new work with only what they had at the time to support them.  Some will be able to move into a new position quickly sure, but these sort of situations still take time to resolve so what do they live on?

And now this stops being about video games

And here is where I take a turn.  This is a terrible situation, but how can something so basically and obviously wrong be allowed to happen in a country like the United States with no backlash?

It’s easy to forget that a fast food worker has more guaranteed job protection than software developers or many other industries in the United States.  Think about that. Fast food workers – the people almost all of us make jokes about as an entry-level job.

This is largely due to union representation in the States, but how can there not be a federal minimum standard for all workers across the board?

There are good employers sure – but it’s up to the employers, and Telltale hasn’t done anything illegal.  All it takes is a board change or a bad day, and an entire industry is suddenly worried about if they have a job tomorrow, and what protection they have if they don’t.

Similar to my thoughts and rants on the Australian Classification Board and their double standards as an example of where our government is going wrong, those of you reading this in the United States remember that your government is leading the way into making situations like this more widespread rather than protecting against it.

This isn’t intended as a party statement or a stab at US politics – it’s an overall observation of the current political system in many Western countries right now.  Take this simple example of exploitation by a software company and how little your government cares about it.  Now apply this logic to the things you really care about and see if it is treated with similar indifference.

Voting is a pain.  Having to take time out and go to a polling station and fill out a form is annoying.

You know what’s more annoying?  Having your rights taken from under you.  Being told that you aren’t important enough, or your issues aren’t valid.  Being treated as someone that is different not because you are unique and should be valued, but because one individual has the ability to make it law that entire groups of people are not equal.

Register to vote, and look at what your representatives are doing for you.  If your representative is doing everything they can for you, vote to keep them in place.  If they aren’t – vote to kick them out.  While it’s true that sometimes you can vote in someone worse, you can also vote in people that are better.

Yes, not everyone will have everything they want – everyone is in the minority on something.  But the more people that make their voices heard and demonstrate what the people actually want, the less the lifetime politicians can simply vote for what they want.

There are many governments in the world right now that need to be soundly reminded that they work for and represent all of the people in their countries – not just themselves.  Sadly, Australia and the US are high on that list right now, but hopefully, this can change soon.

Until next time,

JohnHQLD