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.
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.