Following Australian Classification Board's decision to refuse classification to We Happy Few, developer Compulsion Games announced an appeal, seeing as how the reasons for banning the game sound incredibly shallow, to put it mildly.
We Happy Few has been funded through Kickstarter, which seems pretty unfortunate for the game's fans in Australia. Not being able to sell the game there would mean Compulsion Games has to refund its Australian backers, although the company hopes it won't come to that.
The real issue came from We Happy Few's portrayal of the drug Joy, whose usage grant you different perks. Players are eventually forced into taking it though, so as to progress through the game. They can refrain from using it the rest of the time, although that sort of radical behaviour brings about the wrath of the NPCs around you.
We'd normally call this an incredibly clever game mechanic but the Australian Classification Board obviously disagrees. The official explanation says We Happy Few violates the R 18+ classification that prohibits "drug use related to incentives and rewards".
We're going to try our best to avoid spoilers here but be advised there are bound to be few. We Happy Few is a game that tries to pull of the sort of thing you could've read in Orwell's 1984, Huxley's Brave New world or Burgess' Clockwork Orange, together with obvious visual cues to Kubrick's adaptation of the latter.
The game is set in a dystopian society, in a fictional English town called Wellington Wells, whose citizens regularly consume a drug called Joy so as to forget about the events from an alternative timeline of World War II. As the name suggests, the drug makes you as happy as can be, even though you should feel more miserable .
Ultimately, it's pretty sad seeing video games not being granted the respect and the artistic credibility they deserve, even though the social commentary that We Happy Few provides should be considered invaluable to the society.
After all, how many avid young gamers do you know who could tell you they read any of the aforementioned masterpieces? So why not let them play We Happy Few?