Does anyone remember the time that South Park: The Stick of Truth fell victim to the harsh censorship of the Australian Classification Board? Despite the R18+ rating, South Park: The Stick of Truth still couldn’t avoid the necessary clipping of some of particularly provocative content. It is undeniable that South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker has always liked to push the boundaries of how much controversial content they can get away with, and when they do cross the line, they always manage to make a joke of their censorship.
Rather than just editing a more clean version of the game, they made it explicitly obvious when their content had gone too far for the Australian Classification Board. Check out their subtle way of letting players know that a scene had been removed in this clip.
It may not be news to Australian gamers that the classification board for our country takes a particular hardline on gaming. The bad news is, this is probably not going to ease up anytime soon.
Many big titles were originally refused classification and essentially banned in Australia before the rating was amended to allow its release in Australian stores. Despite being able to enforce tighter ratings to restrict purchase of these games to those over eighteen, the classification board disagrees on what should and shouldn’t be on Australian shelves.
We Happy Few, a highly anticipated dystopian game was another to incur an initial ban on an Australian release. When many first heard of this game, it didn’t seem controversial in its nature. So what caused the problem?
It came down to the use of a fictional drug that plays a central point to the plot of the game. In We Happy Few, civillians are under the influence of a hallucinogenic drug named ‘Joy’ which keeps people elated and easily controlled. It was the nature of this which left a bad taste in the mouth of Australia’s classification board.
This decision was later overturned due an appeal, which has allowed for the release of the title in Australia without modification. However, this still raises a conversation about why the classification board is so strict about what we are allowed to see in our games.
Without delving into the politics of Australia’s reluctance to concede to drug use in the country, this seems like a particularly small thing for the classification board to find a problem with.
You may be surprised, (or unsurprised), to hear of some of the games originally refused classification in Australia. They include multiple Grand Theft Auto titles, Fallout 3 and The Witcher 2.
While there’s no news of any upcoming games being refused classification and release in Australia, it won’t be long until another title falls under the knife of censorship regulations. Unfortunately, there’s not much that can be done to prevent it either. Until Australia decides to catch up with the rest of the world when it comes to the gaming community, we’ll just have to wait and see where the fate of the more edge-pushing games is.