There's one issue in the modern video game world that I absolutely have no patience for: censorship. When governments ban certain books and films, we are rightly outraged. The powers that be shouldn't decide what is good for the masses. We should be able to make those decisions ourselves. It reminds me of when I worked a short stint at Barnes & Noble. They told me that if anyone came up to me with a particular title and was outraged we were selling it, I was to tell them that we had a no-censorship policy. At the time, I was probably just anxious about any confrontation happening on my watch, but since then, I was happy the store took a stand. It's good to know that there are some large corporations that do not suffer the foolishness of censorship. Now if only the governments could get on board with that as well.
Australia is one of the worst, when it comes to censorship laws within their country. Originally, they banned the alternate reality title We Happy Few for its drug use, but have since overturned their decision. This is the same country that changed the history of the Fallout franchise. When Fallout 3 was set to release initially, players would have been able to use morphine as a healing drug. Australia would have none of that tomfoolery and said the name had to change, or else the game(s) would have no place down under. This led to the creation of fictional “Med-X” as a usable item in the gamee. This sort of thing is relatively harmless, but in the case of We Happy Few, the title narrowly avoided being banned altogether. The only reason it ended up being accepted in Australia is with an Adults Only rating and interactive drug use warnings.
It's difficult for me to understand a country deciding something is not right or good for its people. I completely understand certain groups making statements like that. It's like if Alcoholic's Anonymous said that people shouldn't play Catherine, because it promotes the positive use of alcohol and being drunk. Sure, that's fine. I don't think I was ever at any risk of increased alcohol consumption from playing Catherine, but perhaps some people might be reminded of an addiction they had once before. This sort of warning is acceptable. It's when it blossoms into full blown censorship that I take issue.
From a practical standpoint, if we banned games for drug use, there would be a ton off taken the board immediately. It would also prevent many other potential games from being released. If we ban drug use, we might ban nudity or suggestive themes next. Once you pop the censorship block, you can't stop! In the end, we might end up with titles no one wants to play, due to how boring they are. Video games are about escapism and living lives we wouldn't normally. We participate in risky behaviors in the virtual world, rather than the real one, and there's nothing wrong with that.
As I've already stated, I'm very anti-censorship in general. I don't believe that anyone should be able to say what can and can't be allowed in video games. If someone wants to make a game that's borderline porn and involves weird fetishes, they should be allowed to do that. If someone wants to make a game about killing Nazis, they should have every right. If someone wants to make a game featuring adorable fluffy bunny rabbits that maim and murder, they can go right on ahead. Whether or not I play all of those games, and enjoy them, I think they have their place. Freedom of speech should absolutely be a main point in any creative industries, video games included.