Disco Elysium Has Been Refused Classification

Disco Elysium Has Been Refused Classification
Image: Disco Elysium

I always wondered whether Disco Elysium would be banned in Australia, and a couple of years later, that’s precisely what’s happened.

The game has been slapped down with a refused classification rating, according to a new listing on the Classification Board website. Going off the details in the listing, the ban was applied manually by the Classification Board and not through the automated IARC ratings process, which so many other games fell afoul of over the last couple of years.

disco elysium
Image: Classification Board
disco elysium
Image: Classification Board

If you’ve played Disco Elysium — and many people have, since it’s been out on Steam for almost two years — it’s not hard to see why the game fell afoul of our censors. There’s multiple points throughout ZA/UM’s quirky RPG where the character can, and is often encouraged, to consume as many drugs and alcoholic drinks as you can.

It doesn’t matter that the bizarre style of Disco Elysium has eventual consequences for, say, doing speed to pass a skill check. Australia’s classification guidelines against drugs in games are very straightforward:


Detailed instruction in the use of proscribed drugs.

Material promoting or encouraging proscribed drug use.

Computer games will also be Refused Classification if they contain:

(i) illicit or proscribed drug use related to incentives or rewards;

(ii) interactive drug use which is detailed and realistic.

What saved Disco Elysium to this point was the fact that the game was never really submitted for classification in Australia. With the game’s console release, developers and publishers have to submit it for classification. And as soon as that happened … well, it’s no surprise the ban was applied.

The one saving grace is that a review of the classification system has been conducted and finished. In fact, a report into the system has actually been sitting on the Communication Minister’s desk for about a year now. I wonder if we’ll ever get to see it?

Until then, Disco Elysium is still available in Steam. Do yourself a favour and get it before the Classification Board is forced to send an email to Valve.


  • Any idea whether this’ll affect the free update to The Final Cut that current owners of the Steam version of the game would receive?

    • It shouldn’t. You should still get the update and be able to play Disco Elysium, but new owners won’t be able to buy the game from Steam (if pulled).

      If nothing happens to Steam – ie. the Classification Board never sends Valve an email — then Final Cut releases and PC users carry on none the wiser.

  • I’m so glad all that work to finally get a Restricted (R 18+) rating classification finally paid off in 2013, and Australian adults can now play computer games that are high in impact, including content that may be offensive to sections of the adult community. It’s so much better now that we are treated as adults, capable of choosing the media we consume. It would feel a bit like a nightmare Orwellian dystopia if there were some faceless ethics overlord limiting what we can do even within role playing games.

    • As an unreasonable adult incapable of determining when something should offend my standards of morality, indecency and propriety for myself I’m grateful there’s a board out there to protect me. Otherwise I could be playing all kinds of things I’m clearly incapable of dealing with as an adult.

  • Will gladly import this one from overseas just to give the classification board another F.U for treating us like idiots incapable of thinking for ourselves

  • I love that I could jump on a popular and widely available messaging app and buy actual speed, delivered to my door, but i can’t buy a fictional game where fictional characters take fictional speed. Good stuff Straya.

    • I’m quite sure that a popular and widely available messaging app will be more than willing to serve you up an international key to happily register the game on your Australian account.

  • I knew this was coming from when I briefly played the game. There’s no way the drug use wouldn’t get slapped by them.

  • Thank the Lord for our classification board, for banning this game so that it can no longer poison the minds of the innocent and pure gamers of our fair land. Alas it is too late for me, having fallen prey to this games vile and most noxious influence. Without the guiding hand and stalwart protection of our beloved classification board, I played Disco Elysium before I knew…. of the devil within!

    The days and weeks that followed are a blur. Best as I can make out, I, a medical officer and a complete teetotaller until that point, immediate raced down to the streets, took hold of the largest novelty spoon I could avail myself of, and immediately stated smoking prodigious quantities of the most potent recreational drug I could find. I did not even enquire, most of the time, to the identification of the substance I was smoking. Methamphetamines, THC, cocaine, PCP, Bath Salts, drain salts, regular salts, and even dare I say it, Ethanol! I new I had reached my lowest point when I found myself smoking literally every drug stuffed into the body of a dead possum roasting over a marijuana fire, my eyes glazed over and my body decaying into sloth, misery and abject listlessness.

    I am gone from this world, my soul and mind rent asunder from clicking on buttons representing drugs in a computer game. Little did I know how the baleful influence exerted by this most ghastly of mediums – Lucifer’s medium! – would be the equivalent of actual brainwashing.

    If only the board could have saved me! Now I truly understand how the R rating must not apply to such games, for what adult could resist the lure of drugs once they are depicted, semi-realistically, within a video game!?

    Like lambs to the slaughter, I say! Lambs to the slaughter!

  • Oh no dear me how iam going to survive (changes region in setting buys it) I don’t know why they are still around in the digital age

  • Oh no dear me how iam going to survive (changes region in setting buys it) I don’t know why they are still around in the digital age the board is outdated

  • F*ck this country that I love. I can’t even imagine how many gambling ads my children, and yours, have been exposed to in their lives. They seem to have multiplied tenfold in the last few years. Yet a game that a miniscule percentage of the population will play is banned. Don’t give me that “player has agency” bullshit either. Gaming hasn’t normalized violence. Marketing has normalized gambling. Which do you think is worse for this country?

  • I am glad this game has joined the ranks of graffiti simulator Getting Up- Contents Under Pressure and left our choice for games limited to the copies amounts of Murder simulators we have always had

  • Still seems to be on GOG as well, which is where I’ve got my copy. Hopefully mine will remain the DRM-free version. I went through all sorts of shenanigans to get the uncensored Witcher 2 there. (Hooray for international friends)

  • I get the need for content rating; you don’t want some parent who doesn’t do their research letting their kids play Disco Elysium because the title sounds like a dance game. But if I want to watch Trainspotting or Pulp Fiction or any one of a multitude of films that make drug-taking look edgy or easy, albeit with consequences (just like in DE), I can.

    Having different standards for games and films is a problem; we don’t know what we’re being told about content in a particular medium.

    Also, if games were any sort of enabler, I would be an Olympian archer by now.

  • umm kicka***** ill star the rest since im sure theres some limit this website places on things. if they dont even offer it for sale can you even make the arguement its “stealing” (its not regardless, but even the small brains can make the arguement now).

  • I’m just kind of stunned to be honest.
    Wasn’t titles like this the REASON we fought so hard for an R18+ classification?

    I mean, there a hundreds of other examples in other forms of media regarding these themes. Why not slap an R18+ rating and move on?

    Honestly, is there someone we can right too? This is nuts.

  • I’m just kind of stunned to be honest.
    Wasn’t titles like this the REASON we fought so hard for an R18+ classification?

    I mean, there a hundreds of other examples in other forms of media regarding these themes. Why not slap an R18+ rating and move on?

    Honestly, is there someone we can write too? This is nuts.

  • God forbid that adults are allowed to participate in virtual drug taking.

    Now excuse me while I drink a bottle of bourbon while I play my favourite current murder-simulator and lop off a few heads, arms, and head-shot a couple of hundred nazis.

  • This reinforces my view of the ACB as people who are out of touch. The reason for the ban was not ‘drugs as a reward’ or something easily classifiable, but rather that the game offended the morals of decent people. This wishy-washy reasoning is not the fault of the classification system, as many ACB apologists would have it, but is squarely laid at the feet of those small-minded individuals on the board. They had an opportunity to find that this game was not offensive, but they rejected it in favour of maintaining our reputation as a nanny state. All those behind this decision should be publicly outed and shamed.

    • Except that the ‘drugs as a reward’ thing was absolutely the reason for the ban. The classification guidelines state that if a game contains any of the RC drug elements then it is automatically RC (and RC material is separately defined as “offend(ing) against the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults,” hence why that’s included in the decision). The legislation containing the guidelines is the problem, not the people applying it.

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