So once again, Australia’s strict rules have caused a worldwide change in a game and how its distributed. We’re pretty good at this, apparently. Even despite our shiny new R18+ rating. Blood and gore? Sex? Those Japanese hentai games where everyone is a questionable age? Awesome. Go ahead. Love it. Weed? Absolutely not. Throw it in the bin.
DayZ was recently refused classification in Australia due to, and this is probably a first, not current depiction of drug use but the threat of drug use in a future update. As a result, the upcoming physical release was put a stop to in Australia, and this naturally meant the digital release went the same way and it was quickly removed from Australian storefronts.
So, what’s the solution? Maybe alter the game in Australia? Shrug their shoulders and keep Aussie’s in the dark? No, apparently the solution is to alter the game on a global scale, removing drug use altogether.
In a statement published on the Classification Board website by the director of the board, Margaret Anderson, and reported on by Kotaku, she confirmed the drug use in more specific details. This is a doozy. Better be sitting down for it. The game was refused classification because not only did the game contain the Devil’s lettuce, but players could smoke it and regain health as a result. There were also some added bonuses to that, lowering temperature, improving vitals around food and water, getting real high and a nasty case of the munchies (well, that last bit isn’t in there but I can only assume).
Basically, the drug use rewarded the player through a positive impact on gameplay, and this goes against the guidelines. Drug use can get in under the R18+ rating, but it has to be unrealistic or not too detailed and it definitely can’t provide a positive impact on gameplay.
Though there is hope, as on the 28th of June it was decided that there will be a public consultation process in which they’ll look at updating the guidelines “to ensure they reflect contemporary Australian values”.
So there is hope at least. But it does raise the question… Why can’t this game receive a classification, and yet games like Weedcraft Inc., which we have reviewed previously, get through with no issues? There are clearly some gaps when it comes to games and how they’re classified, with things slipping through the cracks. Not that things like this should even be an issue.
Here’s hoping classification guidelines can change in the future.