Australia is notorious for its strict video game Classification Board, having “banned” games from retail sale in the country by refusing them classification. We Happy Few was met with the same fate; initially slapped with a ban, narrative designer Alex Epstein spoke out against this hoping to convince the board that this isn’t a glorification of drug use. Epstein emphasized the fact that the drug is fictional and meant to make a social commentary on the dangerous extremes counterculture ideology can reach.
It seems to have worked as the rating board decided to put the ban under review, resulting in the ban being overturned. Rather than being refused classification, We Happy Few is going to receive an R 18+ rating. This is the equivalent of an M for Mature rating here in the United States, requiring an adult 18 years or older to purchase the game. Below is the press release detailing the board’s decision:
Media release—We Happy Few classified R 18+
3 July 2018
A three-member panel of the Classification Review Board has unanimously determined that the computer game We Happy Few is classified R 18+ (Restricted) with the consumer advice ‘Fantasy violence and interactive drug use’.
The National Classification Code and Classification Guidelines requires the treatment of drug use to not exceed high at the R 18+ level. In the Classification Review Board’s opinion We Happy Few warrants an R 18+ classification because the interactive drug use is high in impact. The overall
impact of the classifiable elements in the computer game was no greater than high.
Computer games classified R 18+ are legally restricted to adults. Persons aged under 18 years cannot purchase computer games classified R 18+. Some material classified R 18+ may be offensive to sections of the adult community. Consumer advice is additional information about the main content of a computer game which is intended to help consumers decide if they want to view this type of material.
The Review Board convened today in response to an application from the original applicant, Gearbox Publishing, LLC, to review the decision made by the Classification Board on 21 May 2018 to classify We Happy Few Refused Classification.
In reviewing the classification, the Review Board worked within the framework of the National Classification Scheme, applying the provisions of the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995, the National Classification Code and the Guidelines for the Classification of
Computer Games. This is the same framework used by the Classification Board.
The Review Board is an independent merits review body. It makes a fresh classification decision upon receipt of an application for review. This Review Board decision takes the place of the original decision made by the Classification Board.
The Review Board’s reasons for this decision will appear on the Classification website when finalised.
Statement authorised by Fiona Jolly, Convenor, Classification Review Board.
This is good news for Aussie gamers, now having the option to purchase the game at retail. We Happy Few is set to release August 2018, will you be picking it up?