The Australian Classification Board, which oversees the rating of videogames for the nation, is reviewing its initial decision to ban the forthcoming Mod-themed dystopia sim We Happy Few. The review comes after a successful appeal was lodged against the ACB’s original decision to refuse We Happy Few classification on the basis that the game incentivises drug use, specifically its fictional “happy pill”, Joy.
The ACB’s determination was a result of one of the game’s core mechanics that has players’ use of Joy directly impact the difficulty of the game. Players become more easily detected by NPCs if they choose not to take their Joy, with some being able to immediately identify those that have suspended their use of the drug. In contrast, players that regularly use Joy will see their experience within the game lessen in difficulty, though it will also force the players to see the world of Wellington Wells through the same hallucinogenic lens as the majority of society.
“A player that takes Joy can reduce gameplay difficulty, therefore receiving an incentive by progressing through the game quickly. Although there are alternative methods to complete the game, gameplay requires the player to take Joy to progress,” read the ACB’s initial ruling.
Now the the appeal has been approved, the ACB is opening up discussion of the game to the general public, allowing those choosing to stand as “an interested party to this review” to submit their opinions in writing to the Convenor of the Review Board ahead of the Classification Review Board’s meeting on July 3. All submissions must be made by June 29 and can only focus on the review of We Happy Few. “Please note that the Review Board can only consider submissions about We Happy Few itself and not any other matters relating to computer game classification policy or issues generally,” read the ACB’s statement.
The ACB’s full press release regarding the review can be read here.