The Classification Review board has unbanned We Happy Few, the upcoming survival adventure game from Compulsion Games, rating it R18+. It was just last week that Gamers Classified reported that the game, which was refused classification in May, was under review. The game was originally refused classification, meaning it is banned from being sold in Australia, due to the in-game drug Joy. As the drug is so prevalent in game, it was seen to encourage drug-use.
“In the Board’s opinion, the game’s drug-use mechanism of making game progression less difficult, constituted an incentive or reward for drug-use. Therefore, the game exceeded the R 18+ classification because of the drug use related to incentives and rewards.”
The game was brought under review as an independant case, meaning it doesn’t change any regulations or set a precedent. However, it seems the overaching distopian themes and the idea of drug controlled society has proved that the use of Joy’s intended message outweighs the supposed encouragement of drug-use.
A few happy Australians
While Australia’s classification law has caused numerous high-profile games to get banned or censored in the past, even after the introduction of a R18+ rating in 2012, this is definitely a win for Australia. Other cases include Saints Row IV and South Park: The Stick of Truth, which were refused classification for drug use amongst other things. However, these games were able to censor the sections involving anal probes and alien drug use, whereas Joy in We Happy Few is a driving narrative point and interwoven throughout the game. The reclassification of We Happy Few is a sign that the artistic merit of games is finally being seen over the face value aspects of gameplay.
We Happy Few is a survival adventure game from Compulsion Games that depicts as dystopian world where everyone is forced into a state of drug induced happiness through Joy. The game’s setting is a dark version of 60s British culture, with clear inspiration from novels such as Nineteen Eighty-Four and A Brave New World. Exploring new territory for video games, this game looks at a society enthralled, by Joy, and is offering some interesting concepts for players. As such, the drug use is the most significant narrative element in establishing these themes.
We Happy Few is out on 10 August, 2018 for PC, Xbox One and Playstation 4.