Australia refuses classification to State of Decay

Healing items constitute "drug use related to incentives."

The Australian ratings board has denied an age classification certificate, required for a game to be published legally, for Xbox zombie survival game State of Decay.

Because the game features real-world drugs which are used to buff and restore health, their use being depicted by the swallowing of pills, the ratings board believes that the game encourages drug use by associating it with reward. Because of this perceived incentivisation of drug use, the game will not see the light of day in the territory without some serious alterations.

The full report explaining the move was obtained by Koataku Australia and is reproduced below.

"The game contains the option of self-administering a variety of "'medications' throughout gameplay which act to restore a player's health or boost their stamina. These 'medications' include both legal and illicit substances such as methadone, morphine, amphetamines, stimulants, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, codeine, aspirin, 'trucker pills"', painkillers and tussin. Of these, methadone, morphine, and amphetamines are proscribed drugs and the term 'stimulant' is commonly used to refer to a class of drugs of which several are proscribed. Players obtain drugs by scavenging for them in the environment or by manufacturing them in a 'Medical Lab'. When players find drugs in the environment the name of the drug appears onscreen and the drug is also represented by a visual icon such as a pill bottle or syringe. Within the 'Medical Lab' players are prompted to make substances such as 'Potent Stims', 'Mild Stims' and 'Painkillers'. The laboratory includes a 'research library' and 'chemical dictionary'.

"When administering drugs, the player is briefly depicted moving a pill bottle toward their mouth. The sound of pills rattling in the bottle accompanies the depiction. The name of the drug appears onscreen along with its representative icon. Consumption of the drug instantly increases a player's in-game abilities allowing them to progress through gameplay more easily. The Applicant has stated that a 'player can choose not to make any drugs or scavenge for them, but it would be very difficult to complete the game without some form of medication'. In the Board's opinion, the game enables the player's character to self-administer proscribed drugs which aid in gameplay progression. This game therefore contains drug use related to incentives or rewards and should be Refused Classification."

Australia's ratings system recently underwent a major renovation, with legislation enacted six months ago which introduced a 'mature' rating for game featuring heavy violence, sex or other social taboos. Whilst it was hoped by many that this would fulfil the same function as the '18' classification in the rest of the world, allowing Australians access to adult games, it seems that some games are still deemed inappropriate. Yesterday, Saints Row IV, bought by Deep Silver in THQ's pre-bankruptcy fire sale earlier in the year, was refused classification too, on the basis of "sexualised violence."

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Latest comments (10)

Tucson K Bagley Junior Artist, Dreamgate Studios8 years ago
Are you kidding me? Me and my friend have been waiting for this game since it was announced, and now we are not allowed access to it because of health packs?
No adult in their right mind would think that "short animation showing character popping a pill" = "You should go out and abuse prescription drugs". Moreover, why the arbitrary decision on this? They let Farcry 2 and 3 in and they have this feature. Fallout 3 was allowed in and you can actually get "addicted" to illicit and non-illicit drugs in that, they even call it an addiction. Bioshock has this as its core mechanic, Stalker, Dead Rising, Left 4 Dead, the list goes on, and I'm sure some of the ones I didn't mention were M, not even MA15. So why pick out this as deserving of no rating at all?

I am so sick of this. So very sick of it. I am a legal adult, and I should be allowed to choose what I consume, not have it chosen for me.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Tucson K Bagley on 26th June 2013 9:33am

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Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant 8 years ago
Our problem is that old non gamers have this false perception that games are for kids. When the facts say that games are for all ages.

Other forms of IP entertainment like books, film, television etc can get away with as much sex and violence as they want when addressing an adult audience. But for some strange reason we aren't allowed to. Even though the sex and violence in the "worst" games is a pale shadow of what can be found routinely in other media.

By the way the King James version of the bible has “harlot” in it 48 times, “sodomite” 5 times, “fornicator” 5 times, “smite” 133 times, “kill” 208 times and “maim” 7 times.
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James Prendergast Process Specialist 8 years ago
I once read a book of fiction that had a rape scene in it - had to put the book down for a few days because of how much it affected me. Nothing anywhere near that sort of thing in any game I've ever played...
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Show all comments (10)
Andrew Animator 8 years ago
Simple fix, rename the drugs in this terriotory. It is crazy though.

I really don't get why calling something an Elixir is fine but calling it a drug is not. I suppose we must be protected from ourselves though.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Andrew on 26th June 2013 10:38am

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Alfonso Sexto Lead Tester, Ubisoft Germany8 years ago

And I agree with you for once. I can understand if they say that in video games the exposure is more continuous that in movies or books. But that is only an excuse so they won't have to say what they really thing; that for pure puritanism and ignorant conservationism they dare to treat games as "stuff for kids" without even sitting down a looking once (just once) to find stuff like Last of Us, Braid, Limbo or Dear Esther.

They only show their ignorance to the rest of the world. and like ignorant they are, they think their acts speak good of them. When they only make them the mockery of the entire gaming world.
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Shane Sweeney Academic 8 years ago
Well at least we got in Australia an R18+ rating now. But yes all censorship is awful but at least this is ammunition the games industry can throw at any interest group in Australia that the new increased rating would just enable all content to come into the country.

Pretty much any country outside of America has this issue though. England does it. Grotesque, The Bunny Games and the Human Centipede II are all banned films in England in their original uncut version. Hell the original cut of Enter the Dragon was banned in England until 1999.

It all sucks, but at least Australia sucks a lot less then it used too.
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Andrew Animator 8 years ago
the Human Centipede II
No great loss there. And comparing that movie to the game being discussed here is a poor comparison. A movie which appeals to some dark sadistic part of some individuals psyche, and a game which said take drug X to health up.

Edited 3 times. Last edit by Andrew on 26th June 2013 1:11pm

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Benjamin Crause Supervisor Central Support, Nintendo of Europe8 years ago
This is not about perception of adults or minors. What is the age rating system good for if we still deny or censor content for adults?
The main problem is the poor treatment of the media itself. Just because it is interactive.
Lets make a movie with zombies, drugs and a heroine that regularly takes pills to power herself up for the fight against the undead.
It will get a Adult (18+) rating and you can watch it everywhere. Where is the difference?

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Benjamin Crause on 26th June 2013 8:34pm

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Paul Jace Merchandiser 8 years ago
Healing items constitute "drug use related to incentives."
That is now the second funniest quote this site has ever produced, though still not nearly as funny as when Bonnie Patterson told a guy he wasn't happy about anything he couldn't masturbate to. Back on topic, wtf Australia? State of Decay is actually a pretty good XBLA game and they are banning it because of drug use? So I suppose none of the movies, television and books released in Australia have ever dealt with drug use either. Yeah, thats what I thought.
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Marty Howe Director, Figurehead Studios8 years ago
It's because games are 'interactive'

That's the censors problem.
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