Australian Censorship Makes Fallout 3 Better Everywhere

When word got out that Fallout 3 was revised to meet classification standards in Australia, and that those changes were adopted in all versions of the game, there was a lot of hand-wringing amongst fans. Don't worry, though - when you shoot a mutant, he's not going to bleed candy or something. The actual changes are laughably minor and will probably help the game.

Bethesda veep Pete Hines told UGO Online that the point of contention with the Australian Office of Film and Literature Classification was the game's depiction of real-world drug use, specifically morphine. Now all references to "morphine" in the game have been changed to "Med-X." Seriously, that's all that changed.

Anyone who has a problem with a change like that is likely more concerned with the principle of censorship than the actual material being censored here. I don't like the idea of censorship of an American version of a game via a foreign body's objection but Hines also noted to UGO that complaints had been raised in other territories as well - the ESRB could very well have criticized this aspect of the game as well (even if they weren't willing to ban it outright in the States).

Even if the ESRB had zero problem with "morphine" references, let's look at what this censorship actually does. The real damage of censorship of a creative work is that it undermines the artistic intent. Having a pain-numbing drug called "morphine" in Fallout 3 would have actually undermined the artistic intent of the series, though. All of the other drugs that appeared Fallout 1 and Fallout 2 had fictional names. Those same drugs (Jet, Buffout, etc.) will be appearing in Fallout 3 and it would have been jarring to have a bunch of fake, campy drug names and then one real-world name. I think "Med-X" sounds very retro sci-fi, thus fitting very well with the overall feel of the series.

There's a segment of gamers predisposed to doom-saying about Fallout 3 because it's not an isometric 2D, turn-based game by Interplay like the first two but c'mon, there's nothing to be upset about with this particular issue. If Bethesda had cut out actual gameplay time because of a censorship issue abroad, that would be worth raising hell over but this is one of the rare instances where censorship is actually beneficial, if only to a very small extent.

Pete Haas

Staff Writer at CinemaBlend.