Bethesda’s highly anticipated game “Starfield” has received a Restricted classification from the Australian Classification Board due to “interactive drug use” in the game. This decision has caused a stir among gamers and the wider gaming community, with some questioning the reasoning behind the rating and what it means for the future of video game censorship.
“Starfield” is a science-fiction role-playing game set in outer space, where players can explore different planets and engage in various activities such as combat, trading, and crafting. The game features a substance called “Adreno,” which is used as a performance-enhancing drug by the player’s character. According to the Australian Classification Board, the use of Adreno is portrayed in a way that is “incentivizing and rewarding,” which led to the game’s Restricted rating.
The Restricted rating means that “Starfield” cannot be sold to anyone under the age of 18 in Australia, and it is also prohibited from being advertised or displayed in stores where minors can see it. The decision has sparked debate among gamers and industry experts, with some arguing that the rating is excessive and others saying that it is a necessary step to protect children from harmful content.
One of the main criticisms of the decision is that the use of Adreno in the game is not portrayed as a positive thing. In fact, the substance is presented as a dangerous and addictive drug that has negative consequences for the player’s character. Critics argue that the game’s narrative and gameplay mechanics discourage players from using Adreno, and therefore the Restricted rating is unwarranted.
However, the Australian Classification Board maintains that the use of Adreno in “Starfield” is still portrayed in a way that is “incentivizing and rewarding,” despite the negative consequences. They argue that the game mechanics encourage players to use Adreno to gain a competitive edge in combat and other activities, which could be interpreted as promoting drug use.
The decision has also raised questions about the broader issue of video game censorship and how it should be approached. Some argue that video games should be treated like other forms of media, such as movies and TV shows, and subjected to similar classification systems. Others believe that video games are unique in their interactivity and should be regulated differently.
One potential solution is to adopt a more nuanced approach to video game censorship, taking into account the context and narrative of each game. Rather than relying on blanket restrictions based on certain elements like drug use, the classification system could consider the overall message and themes of the game and whether they are likely to be harmful to minors.
Ultimately, the decision to give “Starfield” a Restricted rating in Australia for interactive drug use is a complex issue with no easy answers. While some argue that the rating is excessive, others believe that it is necessary to protect children from harmful content. As video games continue to evolve and become more complex, the issue of censorship is likely to remain a hotly debated topic.
In the meantime, gamers in Australia who are eager to play “Starfield” will have to wait until they turn 18 or find alternative ways to obtain the game. It remains to be seen whether other countries will follow Australia’s lead in restricting the game’s availability, or whether the controversy will prompt Bethesda and other game developers to rethink how they approach sensitive topics in their games.