Australia Gets to Enjoy We Happy Few After All
In what is being hailed as a victory for common-sense, upcoming dystopian video game We Happy Few has been reclassified as R18+ on appeal after initially being refused classification by the Australian Classification Board.
The game, being published by Gearbox on PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on August 10, is set in a dystopian alternate 1960s where the UK lost WWII and the populace is kept under control by a 1984-style government which forces people to be happy all the time via the use of a fictional drug named “Joy”.
Your character, a ‘downer’ who rejects all this, is able (and indeed is encouraged to) to take the drug to pass undetected through areas of the game without being chased down and lynched by local residents – a mechanic the board initially declared fell afoul of the classification guidelines’ “Drug use as incentive or reward” prohibition.
Following a huge outcry from gamers across the country, tired of being told what we can and can’t play as adults, the Classification Review Board announced on July 3 they had unanimously voted to reclassify the game as R18+ with the consumer advice the game contains “fantasy violence and interactive drug use”.
“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 statement from Australian Classification said.
“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.”
Having played a demo of the game myself at E3 in Los Angeles last month, I can also say I saw absolutely nothing problematic or objectionable in the game – which is clearly entirely fictional – from a content perspective in the hour or so I spent with it.
The official reasons for the review board’s decision will be made known in due course, but for the now the important thing is that if you’re over 18, you’ll be able to play We Happy Few when it releases next month. Hurrah!
With more than 20 years experience as a games reviewer, feature writer and journalist, including at actual newspapers in New Zealand and Australia, Royce somehow combines his love of all things gaming and tech with a strong interest in history. It’s an odd combination, admittedly, but it works.
Primarily a PC gamer – as a gaming rig complements his study with its many leather-bound books and smell of rich mahogany – he leans towards strategy titles, strong narrative games, the quirky or unusual, and likes the peripherals/accessories side of things too.