The Australian Classification Board has rescinded the effective ban on Outlast 2.
There is some confusion as to whether there were any changes to the game’s content to escape the ban, with different outlets are reporting that the game was altered in response to the ratings controversy, while others assert that the content of the game was “not altered in any way during resubmission.
The initial classification ruling stated:
The computer game is classified RC in accordance with the National Classification Code, Computer Games Table, 1. (a) as computer games that “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 to the extent that they should not be classified.
The ACB itself told IGN that “it is satisfied that the original version of the game that was refused classification has been modified to allow the game to be classified R18+” which suggests that the content was indeed edited.The changes appear to be global — that is, all versions of the horror adventure appear would have been altered in the same manner. The statement released to Press Start by Red Barrels made that much clear:
The statement released to Press Start by Red Barrels doesn’t make it clear whether the game was censored or not but asserted that Outlast 2‘s content would be the same in every region it was released:
Outlast 2 has been rated R18+ by the Classification Branch in Australia and will be released 26th April 2017. There will be only one version of Outlast 2 available worldwide.
On a broader scale, the reclassification might also owe Australian senator David Leyonhjelm some credit, who told the Australian Classification Board to “leave gamers alone” after the original ban was handed down. He revealed that both politicians and public servants are restricted from accessing popular gaming websites, even though most “wouldn’t know the different between a ghoul and an alghoul.”
Leyonhjelm decried the fact that “the mere suggestion of an out-of-screen encounter between a creature and a human character was enough to get it banned altogether by the Australian Classification Board,” asserting that Outlast 2, like critically-acclaimed open world RPG The Witcher 3, takes place “in a fantasy world, full of kinds of creatures, both human and non-human.”
He capped his argument with a salient point: “How is is that adults are not trusted to make choices about video games, and yet they are allowed to vote?” He added, “video games do not hurt anybody, and the govermment Classification Board should leave gamers alone.”
It’s a surprising turn toward common sense, and a hopeful sign for the future of interactive entertainment. If Australian gamers are fortunate, Outlast 2‘s release represents the first step toward a gaming environment that isn’t hamstrung by government censorship.
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