We Happy Few is getting a second chance in Australia

We Happy Few was refused classification in Australia last month, meaning it was effectively banned in the country. The game's pill-habit was the source of the trouble: We Happy Few is literally about a society that scarfs truckloads of drugs to maintain happiness (and more importantly, conformity), but Australia's National Classification Code states that games depicting "drug misuse or addiction ... in such a way that they offend against the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults" will be refused classification.   

It might seem a bit silly for a country that does actually have an R18+ classification, although its introduction in 2013 doesn't appear to have had much on-the-ground impact for Aussie gamers. But the Classification Board announced today that it will consider an appeal of the RC next month, and extended an invitation to individuals or organizations to "apply for standing as an interested party."  

"The closing date to lodge your application for standing as an interested party and any submissions is 29 June 2018," the announcement says. "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." 

We Happy Few was refused classification because players are incentivized to take drugs in the game world. "A player who 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," the board said in its original ruling

"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 R18+ classification because of the drug use related to incentives and rewards."   

Hopefully the board will look more deeply into We Happy Few's narrative themes in its re-review, rather than just the basic mechanics of getting high to get by. The Classification Board's re-review is scheduled for July 3. 

Thanks, Kotaku.

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.