Australia has an oddly puritanical relationship with video games–so much so that a game you wouldn't necessarily think should be banned eventually winds up being refused classification. Without a classification from the Australian Classification Board, games cannot be legally sold in Australia.
That's what happened to RimWorld just last month. An upcoming console release for the PC game was refused classification for depicting “sex, drug misuse or addiction, crime, cruelty, violence or revolting or abhorrent phenomena in such a way that they offend against the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults."
Those who have actually played RimWorld note that all the above content is in the game, but it's hardly in your face about it. The game's stylistic graphics prevent excessive gore beyond a few red splatters, and most of the really awful stuff is just described in text.
But if Disco Elysium can get its ban overturned, then so could RimWorld. Ludeon Studios appealed the decision last week, and after a meeting with the Board, has been granted the classification of R 18+, which restricts the purchase of RimWorld to ages 18 and up.
In its decision, the Classification Board noted RimWorld's adult "themes and drug use have a high impact" on players.
"The game includes fantasy drug use, but in the Review Board’s opinion, the game mechanic ultimately provides disincentives related to drug-taking behavior, to the point where regular drug use leads to negative consequences such as overdose, addiction, and withdrawal," the Board wrote (via Eurogamer). Players may choose for colonist pawns to consume drugs in certain scenarios, but this greatly hinders player progress, as characters will succumb to addiction and must deal with long-term negative impacts of their drug use. The drug use is depicted at a distance through a top-down perspective, in a highly stylized, simplified form. The game also contains high impact themes that are justified by the context of colonists surviving in an inhospitable fantasy world."
Strangely enough, Ludeon Studios even crowdsourced their argument to the Board. Last night, Ludeon's Tynan Sylvester tweeted for help, asking fans for games rated by the board that includes "drug use, especially connected to player incentives." A few hours later, he thanked his followers, saying, "I think we got what we need."
We still don’t know when RimWorld will hit consoles, but an official announcement is likely to come soon.
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