When your government doesn’t think your adult enough
So after all is said and done, the most excitement over all of the trailers over the last few days is Cyberpunk 2077. This is a game I didn’t even know I wanted to be made until CD Projekt Red announced they were making it.
As mentioned, I have played Cyberpunk and Cyberpunk 2020 at various stages of my life. Cyberpunk as a genre offers so many possibilities, it’s a genre anyone can jump in and out of at any time. Or even be neck deep in it without realising it.
Relaxing and looking at a few things, one headline in my feeds from Kotaku caught my attention. In it, they had the following tweets from one lucky journalist that got hands-on time with Cyberpunk 2077:
Also this game is totally not gonna past the classification board: substance abuse, extreme nudity, violence and I think gambling themes.— Julian Rizzo-Smith @ E3 (@Retawes) June 13, 2018
And Julian Rizzo-Smith is not the only person saying this. Many feeds are echoing the concerns, especially over what seems to be the drug delivery system entrenched in the game – an inhaler.
Most descriptions at the moment talk about the inhaler being how you heal yourself, and a generic hypo was a tool in the original Cyberpunk games. And that’s when it hit me – drugs were all through the original Cyberpunk RPGs. I think David Milner summed it all up quite nicely:
To clarify, you have an inhaler that restores health and seems to give you some buffs. At a certain point a guy that upgraded your tech gives you one and says "take two puffs". It's plausible that more context will mean it's something else, but I think the implication is there.— David Milner (@DaveMilbo) June 13, 2018
Again, this is just something I worried about watching the demo. We're a long way from ANY of this happening. Maybe it'll be fine! It's very hard to predict with this system.— David Milner (@DaveMilbo) June 13, 2018
A little while ago, I wrote an article about the Refused Classification status of ‘We Happy Few‘. Cyberpunk 2077 is a long way from being put in from of the Australian Classification Board, let alone being reviewed by them.
But a lot of the red flags from We Happy Few are front and center in Cyberpunk 2077. I already was curious what was going to happen with Call of Duty 4 and their return to an active health system (applying stims). According to the loose standards of the ACB, ‘being able to continue playing’ seems to be a reward for drug use and banned.
It’s true that most narcotics in Cyberpunk were optional, but some were not. Health definitely is not optional for a game. Nudity and violence are generally subject to review and must be ‘in context’, but has anyone on the ACB watched Game of Thrones ever? Oh wait, they must have. It’s OK if they want to watch it then. Even the latest Netflix Cyberpunk show Altered Carbon, which shares a lot of Cyberpunk 2077s themes in a general sense, had what I would consider incentivized drug use and nudity. Why is this OK because it’s on TV? Oh, and rated MA15+, so anyone can still watch it legally with a guardian anyway?
It’s important to keep in mind that the Australian Classification Board hasn’t said a thing about Cyberpunk 2077 – this is all conjecture and thoughts from fans that really want to play this game. But because of an inconsistent set of standards in Australia, there is a possibility that we will not get what is shaping up to be a genre-defining experience.
The only thing I would like you to take away from this article isn’t fear that we won’t get another computer game. In the day to day battle that is life, not being able to play a game is an inconvenience at best. No, what we should be concentrating on is that Australia needs to look hard at its politicians and systems and push for changes in both.
Why are games held to a different standard to every other form of entertainment? This should be a simple argument. We speak loudly enough, the rules should all be bought into line. It’s not making new rules – it’s applying consistency.
And if we can get together on something so relatively trivial in the grand scheme of running this country, imagine what else we could do? There are plenty of vitally important topics screaming for common sense reviews that can make life better for Australians as a whole, not just for some groups with a specific interest.
Until next time,