State of Decay Refused Ratings Classification in Australia

June 26, 2013 -

Undead Labs' State of Decay is the second game to be refused classification in Australia under the country's new ratings system. The game was refused classification because it includes interactive drug use that "aids in gameplay progression," or rewards the player for engaging in drug use.

Writing on the Undead Labs forum, executive producer Jeff Strain shared the bad news with fans.

"I have bad news to share" wrote Strain. "State of Decay has been refused classification by the Australian Classification Board (ACB). We've run afoul of certain prohibitions regarding the depiction of drug use. We're working with Microsoft to come up with options, including changing names of certain medications in the game to comply with ratings requirements. Whatever our path forward, it's going to take a bit."

Speaking to IGN, Strain said that it might consider altering the gameplay to get the game released in Australia.

The Classification Board also supplied IGN with a report that outlines the specific reasons why State of Decay was refused classification:

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”.

State of Decay joins Saints Row IV, which was officially the first game to be refused classification under the new ratings system. It, like State of Decay, contained content that the board felt was above and beyond the highest rating a game can get in the country - R18+.

Source: IGN by way of Andrew Eisen.


Re: State of Decay Refused Ratings Classification in Australia

So, the board is using their R18 rating as a ban stick ?

Re: State of Decay Refused Ratings Classification in Australia

From what was quoted in the Saint's Row article, they're putting some arbitrary upper bound on R18, and, "erring on the side of caution," putting that upper bound quite low to avoid, "opening the floodgates," to... basically all the stuff that R18 existed to legalize for adults.

The net effect seems to be that they carved the R18 level out of the upper end of what was already being classified, rather than extend it, and now use some hypothetical super-R rating (which in practical use is indistinguishable from what used to be regular-R) as their new ban hammer.

Re: State of Decay Refused Ratings Classification in Australia

What's the use of having an 'R' rating when the ACB treats the medium as if it's all aimed at children? Time to pen a letter to them.

Re: State of Decay Refused Ratings Classification in Australia

What is the difference between these drugs, the "alien narcotics" and the strength potions in Final Fantasy? Nothing. Nothing at all.

Re: State of Decay Refused Ratings Classification in Australia

Again with the drugs! Are movies featuring drugs treated this way? I bet not.

Re: State of Decay Refused Ratings Classification in Australia

Was it worth it, Australia? Was it worth fighting tooth and nail for an R18 rating, only to have it be largely ingnored?

---You are likely to be eaten by a Grue.
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