The Australian Classification Board says We Happy Few "incentivises drug-use" | PCGamesN

The Australian Classification Board says We Happy Few "incentivises drug-use"

We Happy Few Australian rating

Update, May 24: We Happy Few's developers have issued a statement about Australian Classification Board's decision to not rate the game, but the board are standing firm.

We Happy Few has been refused classification in Australia due to its portrayal of drug misuse. The game tasks you with surviving without use of the fictional hallucinogenic drug Joy, which NPCs take to attempt to forget a shared trauma.

In a statement, the game's developer, Compulsion, said that the game "explores a range of modern themes," and offers a "social commentary no different than Aldous Huxley's Brave New World or Terry Gilliam's Brazil."

Not able to play We Happy Few? Here are what we think are the best survival games on PC.

The studio also said they were working with the ACB to achieve a classification, but will work with Kickstarter backers and issue refunds if the board maintains its stance. You can read the full statement, which asks backers for "a little bit of time to appeal the decision," via a blog post from Compulsion.

Despite Compulsion's efforts, however, it seems that the ACB will not be issuing a classification at this time. In a statement provided to PC Gamer (the statement in its entirety contains some minor story spoilers) last night, the board stated that "in the board's opinion, the game's drug-use mechanic making game progression less difficult constitutes an incentive or reward for drug-use and therefore, the game exceeds the R 18+ classification that states, 'drug use related to incentives and rewards is not permitted', Therefore, the game warrants being Refused Classification."

The classification does not rule out an Australian release for We Happy Few in the future: developer Compulsion Games could make changes to remove the offending content and resubmit it to the board for reclassification. Considering the Joy drug is central to We Happy Few's gameplay and story, it won't be an easy fix.

We Happy Few launched into Early Access on PC last year, but it is unknown whether this setback will have an affect on the expected summer release this year.

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*sigh* avatarQDP2 avatarThe Great Gratzby avatar
*sigh* Avatar
1 Month ago

Taking the drugs and being happy was probably why.

Drugs cant be seen in any sort of positive light. They cut the mission from Saint Row 4 where you take alien shit and get super powerful and love it.

The ACB is made up of old fuddy duddys and middle aged "think of the children" women.

QDP2 Avatar
1 Month ago

I've said before, I'm apposed to game censorship. The idea is sound. I can understand and respect a country setting age restrictions to avoid mature content reaching the wrong hands. When it comes to capping content maturity I believe review boards are crossing the same line as freedom of speech stands for.

If the content is racist, demeaning or insulting in a disrespectful manor to a group or individual, I can even understand then why you'd draw a line and say no. But forcing a developer to conceal the truth for the sake of a countries desires? A line too far.

Drugs can be bad things. I can understand why they don't want to send the wrong image to their population. The laws they've set are grounded, no game, movie or other medium of entertainment is going to change them. When people play "We Happy Few", they know drugs like the ones in the game are illegal to use. Through playing the game they learn very early on that its a bad thing to take the drug, and they must avoid it at all costs. Where is the problem in the first place?

Based off the situation, I can only assume they dislike it because the drugged citizens seem at glance to be happy, functional, complete people.

The complaint seems to be founded on the idea that the drug brings happiness, but isn't that what most drugs do? People break the law for a reason, not just for addiction or rebellious desires (though they be for some, who am I to state definitively), but for a sense of euphoria. Happiness.

I should probably prefice this with the fact I have not played We Happy Few, all this is coming from knowledge of the title through trailers and gameplay clips. The developers increased both the positive and negative side effects of their drug to make a focus-point for the game to build around. The residents are happy beyond measure (unable to stop smiling) but lose control of themselves. They become docile, empty husks of their former selves. It's made really obvious early on in the game that the drug is a bad thing; something you as a player should avoid at all costs. How can this be teaching people a wrong lesson?

From the games foundation, it's not trying to hide the fact that drugs have benefits. Instead it is stating you should not succumb to those short-lived positives. You lose far more by partaking than you could gain. This age-rating rejection is the government telling its population it'd rather try and hide the truth from its citizens. It would rather pretend drugs have no reason to take, in the hopes people are naive enough not to know why others take drugs. To leave them to find out for themselves that the world is being misrepresented through a filter held up by the government.

May as well conclude this with a note on conversation, I'm happy to hear other thoughts and opinions on this. I'm willing to bet many have different views to me and am interested in hearing them, but I don't want a fight in the comments over differing opinions. Here's to hoping we can have sensible conversations about the state of censorship, rather than swear each other to pieces.

The Great Gratzby Avatar
1 Month ago

Idiotic, not to mention ironic.

It's a flaw you can see in a lot of bureaucratic and security procedures. The system insulates itself from everything that is not the system. It has no context or point of reference. The machine does its nominal job, but its human components become incapable of perceiving nuance or making informed judgements, just mindlessly checking boxes off in the government-issued three-ring binder.