The Game that was Banned by Australian Government

Rimworld is a sci fi colony simulation created by Tynan Sylvester in which you overlook characters or “pawns” set up a colony and aid their development on an unknown exo planet. It has overwhelmingly positive reviews on Steam and was even Steam’s 2018 highest rated game. Your pawns are created to act somewhat lifelike as they have their own traits that define them, food to sustain them and recreation to keep them from losing their sanity. Making the pawns mimic people is what is getting the game in hot water by the Australian Government. The Australian Classification board first outright banned the game from Australian consumers stating it “…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.” Which is understandable as you can engage your pawns in hardcore drug use, murder of their fellow pawns or the worst offender enslaving raiders that attacked your colony. For these reasons Rimworld was seen as a detriment by the Australian government and thus banned until a ruling in March of 2022. The game was no longer banned from the Steam website in Australia but now is given the extreme rating of R 18+. This decision was met after the council concluded that “illicit or proscribed drug use related to incentives or rewards” and that therefore the Board was required to classify the game, Refused Classification.” The award winning game is out of hot water for now but due to updates and downloadable content for the game it seems it is only a matter of time before Rimworld is back on the radar.

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15 thoughts on “The Game that was Banned by Australian Government

  1. Subject matters and themes in video games have always been controversial in all genres. How countries are depicted in historical wars, simulating death and torture in a murderous/glamorized fashion, even in-game (buy to win) currency has been a pivotal issue in many gaming communities. Rimworld is no stranger to these controversial mechanics, but they’re not heavily incentivized nor redeemed positively in-game which seems what the legal team argued and won. It’s unfortunate a small mechanic of the game which you have to deliberately strive for with more cons than pros, was banned. It’s completely fair to put an R +18 rating due to the subject matter and graphics, but these matters have been portrayed before and more gruesomely.

  2. As someone who has grown up playing all kinds of video games on different consoles, I think this is a bit extreme. I wonder if the Australian Government will ban the extremely popular games HuniePop, HuniePop 2: Double Date, and HunieCam Studio? These games are quite literally about meeting women, going on dates with them, and having sex with them in the similar format as Candy Crush. You see all kinds of extremely explicit pictures of these animated girls in the game, but a game about creating a colony through the means of common human behavior with an emphasis on aggression through violence and drug use is a problem? Be fucking for real Australia.

  3. Ultimately, my knowledge of the game and therefore its methods of incentivizing immoral behavior is limited. However, analyzing censorship of media creates spaces where the effects of exposure to disturbing or morally dubious art can be discussed. Personally, I rarely believe that censorship of art is necessary and that it can instead be replaced by increased regulation— which is what the Australian government ultimately chose to do in this circumstance I suppose. However, I wonder what effect setting a precedent of censorship will have in the future.

  4. I personally am not a big gamer so I do not have any insights about the game in general, however, I did go to high school in Australia so I am familiar with the culture and politics. I think that it is interesting that the Australian Government took such a strong disliking to the game due to the mature content because I typically thought of Australians as more care free and even vulgar at times. Many Australians who don’t live in big cities live a pretty rigid lifestyle, therefore they are probably not fazed by Rimworld. However, to contrast this, I do know that Australia’s government has a very strong dislike for drugs, as shown in there strict drug laws, and therefore I can see why they would have a problem with the hardcore drug use in the game. Australia is considered to have freedom of speech and freedom of media, however the Australian government has proven multiple times to restrict the type of material that they deem unsuitable for citizens. Having lived in both the US and Australia, I have not noticed that censorship has been a very prevalent topic in either of the two countries, however it would seem that Australia is definitely taking more actions towards internet censorship than the US. I am not sure whether this is a good thing or not. I do believe that it can be potentially harmful if the wrong types of individuals consume this type of content, however, to the general person, playing a game like this is generally harmless. One game that this reminds me of is GTA, where you drive around stealing cars, beating people up, buying guns and doing other illegal activities. I wonder if this game is also not allowed in Australia?

  5. There are so many similar games on steam. I never play this game but there’s a similar game I used to play is called “GTA”. GTA is a game with full of violence and crime, player have to complete quests to earn rewards, most of the quests are relate to crime. And this game is also 18+, it will ask your birthday, you won’t be able to download under 18.

  6. I’ve never heard of this game but from the description it seems similar to many other games that are out and not under the category of rated R. I wonder what was the reason that the Australian government only found this game detrimental and had to ban it. This also reminds me of the censorship in China. There are many scenes involving violence have been completely deleted instead of changing it to rated R, which took away many good plots and scenes from movies and shows for adults to watch.

  7. This actually surprised me since I’m sure there are many other games out there that touch upon these elements that the Australian Classification board would not deem approrpiate for consumers. Why was this specific game targeted by the ban?

    This gives off the feeling that they feel that those who play this game are more likely to partake in drug misuse, crime, violence, etc. But there have been studies done that show that playing violent games doesn’t directly cause one to become violent and engage in those activities in real life. It could be that those who play the game already are violent in the first place. And the majority of people are able to discriminate between what is okay to do in games vs in real life.

  8. The accusation by the Australian government that the game depicts abhorrent phenomena in such a way “they offend against the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults to the extent that they should not be classified.” seems like vague and subjective legal talk in order find any reason to ban the game. It’s not like the Australian government bans games such as the recent Call of Duty games, where actual real life war crimes like the infamous “Highway of death” in which the U.S indiscriminately bombed a highway full of escaping Iraqis are whitewashed and history is rewritten so that in the game, Russia somehow is to blame for the bombing of the highway. From this we can see, it is obvious that this law is being applied selectively and unfairly in Australia and “Rimworld” shouldn’t be unfairly targeted.

  9. This article seems interesting because censoring a video game does not really make much sense. In this day and age, video games can be similar, and there are vpns anyway. I don’t really indulge in video games myself, but it just seems really odd that of all things, Australia decides to ban a video game. It is also concerning because if they ban video games, they can go down the slippery slope of censorship.

  10. I’ve seen this game several times on steam and from the introduction, I was attracted by its richness as the game provides players opportunities to control a world with colonists and develop the society. I didn’t play this game, but the violence, drugs, and crime elements mentioned in the blog are somehow concerning if teenagers get a chance to play and are influenced to conduct crimes. But on the other hand, I think people will not do crimes only because they play this game. It’s more likely that violent people are more attracted to this game. So the game is not an excuse for crime, and rather it can relieve pressure and make people more energetic in study and work. So personally speaking, I don’t support banning the game just because of the violent elements.

  11. This is so interesting to hear Australia banning certain video games. I wonder if they’ve ever banned video games here in America. I can understand where the Australian government is coming from though because accessibility to violent games could inspire violence in regular life. But, the actual transition of violence to regular life is hard because I think a lot of people are stopped from doing so because of current laws in place and personal morality. I feel like ones who do decide to inflict crime were already leaning to that side before playing the violent game.

  12. It’s interesting to see what extent it takes for games to be considered inappropriate or banned in different countries, and this one was no exception. Games that involve gun violence, drug use and sexual acts do exist, however because this particular case was so against morality that the law deemed it unjust and therefore banned. Even with this, the game is still available with firmer restrictions and it goes to show that even if recognized by the government to be of concern and of unjust morality, curating media that expounds on sensitive subjects will still continue despite censorship attempts.

  13. With a first glimpse, I first thought this game looked similar to an American game called “Prison Escape”. With such a similar layout, that game promotes violence towards inmates/officers in a prison, escaping, and crafting illegal weapons. I’m almost asking myself, “What really is the difference between the two?”. With so many children playing Rated R games, I almost feel as if the ruling of changing the Australian game to “R 18+”, didn’t do anything at all to limit the access of some. Instead of bringing the game back 100% as is, I would have possibly tweaked it a little to be able to satisfy the majority.

  14. The banning of the game “Rimwald” in Australia seems to be an outright act of censorship. I am no expert in video games, however I believe that this is similar to many games that are not banned. This causes me to question the motive behind the banning of this game in Australia and not others like it. The correct move would have been to simply warn users before playing/ purchasing. Censoring this game seems like a form of cancel culture that will only make people who play this game and manipulate their characters look in darker spaces of the web.

  15. Interesting article. It speaks to censorship and it extent in creative media like video games. I feel like this case is especially interesting because its a video game, a type of media that a lot less of the population take part in therefore affecting less people. It also speaks to how far we have gotten in game development and its visuals which is something I think that should be celebrated.

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