Australians can now enjoy We Happy Few August 10th 2018
In May, I wrote about the effective banning in Australia of We Happy Few. So the Australian Classification Board reviewed We Happy Few yesterday (July 3rd) and has decided to give it an R18+ rating.
Some people may be thinking “Great! Common Sense has prevailed!”. To a degree, I can understand this thinking – the feeling of relief that comes with what seems like good news.
You can see the media release of from the Australian Classification Board here, but the actual report on the decision will not be available for a few days. This report is what I am really interested in seeing for a few reasons.
The original classification refusal was due to the use of a fictional drug Joy. According to the Board, the game’s drug-use mechanism was seen as making progression less difficult, providing a reward for drug use.
This is important because of an ACB Guidelines that states “Video games will be refused classification if they include or contain ‘drug use related to incentives and rewards'”.
Other games and ‘rewards’ have come under fire from this rule, such as Fallout 3. Yes – taking ‘Morphine’ to heal was considered a reward or incentive and glorifying a real word drug.
Now I have spoken about my concerns with upcoming games and drug use, such as the hotly anticipated Cyberpunk 2077. If you haven’t read that article, the short version is I am concerned that Video Games are held to very different standards than every other form of media in Australia. And not only are Video Games held to a different standard, that standard is a moving target.
I have said before that not being able to play a Video Game is far from the biggest issue in Australia today, and I stand by this. But the reasons for a game being refused classification while the same material can be seen in every other medium is indicative of bigger issues.
Why is this? The Australian Government right now has a lot of double standards in its policies, and it shows no intention of even acknowledging this may be the case. While it’s true that the population can vote out a govenement, both (well, all 3) major political parties are just as guilty as each other in terms of contradictory behaviour.
As a country, I believe Australia needs to learn how to voice its displeasure and demand actual change in Australian policy and its politicians. Video Game content not being rated like TV, Films and Literature is a small example, and one I believe should be a simple start. It’s not requiring sweeping changes, just recategorising one field to the same standards as other responsibilities of the ACB.
But there are sweeping changes needed make no mistake. Some are purely policy driven, where the majority vote should decide. There are also changes that need to be made clear by voters that party politics and ‘the way it’s always been’ just isn’t how things are anymore.
There are many important issues in Australia right now that are being deflected with the right sounding words. There are many more outright being ignored or at best delayed because of politicians and others not feeling change is worthy of their consideration.
So while I am happy We Happy Few is getting a classification, it’s important to remember that overturning one decision wasn’t the problem. The fundamental issue of a game being declined because of actions that are seen and discussed every day in film, music and literature without legal restriction to their audience is the problem.
If we can all recognise and get change on something so minor, imagine what can be achieved by the same group when they turn to more important issues?
Until next time,