A report from Kotaku Australia goes into the curious case of Wasteland 3 and how it originally was denied a classification from the country’s Classification Board (which regulates and censors film, video game, and literature) over an “interactive” use of drugs.
Games which are refused classification (RC, in Board parlance) are not allowed to be sold in Australia. According to the Board’s website, when Wasteland 3 was originally submitted in late February, it ran foul of a clause which does not allow video games to “depict, express or otherwise deal with matters of 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.” Which doesn’t immediately specify exactly what it was that Wasteland 3 depicted.
The Classification Board issues annual reports about their activities, however, and the annual report lays out Wasteland 3‘s particular offense. In the original submission, there was a consumable item listed as “Rocky Mountain Moosegrass” (basically marijuana) which a player could use. When a player used the item, a sound effect of a lighter being sparked played, the player’s character apparently breathed out a plume of smoke, and a status effect of “bouldered” was applied.
Because of that one mechanic, Wasteland 3 became the only RC game of the 2019-2020 period. Developer InXile changed the game to remove the “interactive” element and resubmitted it, allowing the game to squeak in with an R18+ rating and be sold to the Australian gaming public.
Food For Thought
The arbitrary method in which video games are subjected to greater scrutiny in Australia is a known (and occasionally hilarious) issue, as the Kotaku AU report details. Board members themselves are apparently well aware how ridiculous the distinctions are and have apparently been pushing to get one set of rules laid down for all media. For now, though, we’re likely to hear more stories like this in the future, possibly about Cyberpunk 2077.