Life, The Universe, And Gaming: Who Knew Gaming In South Africa Was So Awesome?
I did, of course.
I suppose it wouldn’t be a column of mine if I didn’t start things off with some shameless boasting of a sort. But work with me on this, I’m trying to be patriotic, to go with my pretentiousness. Still there? Awesome.
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For the month of September some relatives of mine who are formerly from Durban and have resided in Australia for long enough to be legal citizens, are touring South Africa with their now much older children (old enough to consider themselves my cousins, where they’re actually more like nieces and nephews — or, niblings) most likely in an attempt to show them the beautiful country they left behind… or perhaps remind them why they moved in the first place. Either way…
Having just reached the Durban leg of their cross-country tour– WAIT! May I just take a moment to encourage anyone who is considering a holiday to tour some places in South Africa? Please. Do yourself that service. It’s your country after all. Assuming you’re reading this as a South African in South Africa. Moving on. Now that they’re in their Durban leg, they are staying over for the next week or so, and at some point in the initial conversations where everyone was adequately caught up and I was tasked with explaining what exactly it is that I do as a writer for a gaming website, the topic shifted onto videogames in Australia.
Now, we all know the jokes, right? The Australian Classification Board is kind of the laughing stock of the gaming world, after all. You’ve surely seen the memes of, say, GTA V: Australia Edition, where all the guns and ominous-looking characters were removed and replaced with bunnies and cute things.
Ha ha etc.
But a strange thing happened when we were talking about games, and it’s stuck with me all evening. (Spoiler: I typed this column out the night before it published.) My cousin’s son, who is eighteen and loves gaming, who has played The Last of Us and enjoys the odd Call of Duty game as well, was fascinated to see what Mortal Kombat looks like in all its gory glory. That’s right, Mortal Kombat. A game from 2011 which we just took in our stride and either purchased or skipped out on, a game that can be acquired for really cheap now, everywhere. A game that I honestly barely even played that much because I was so taken by Marvel Vs Capcom 3 (even if Capcom ruined my love for that game) to the point that other fighters felt dull in comparison. And he loved it. It was the first time he had even seen such a great thing, in his words, away from YouTube videos.
I was in mild shock.
Of course, some of you might know that Mortal Kombat was among the games refused classification by the Australian Classification Board, the guys who rate the games that release in Australia and if a game falls under their R18 category, it is simply refused classification and therefore cannot be sold. This isn’t the only game to be refused classification, nor is it the only game to have released in a much more tame, less gory version later on, as a means of appeasing the at-times dictatorial ACB. Because think of the children! You know, the ones who shouldn’t be playing anyway…
The next topic we got to talking about was game pricing. It started off alright, where he said that a lot of the games he purchased this year would have converted to the equivalent of R600. Then he threw an absolute curveball at me by telling me that Call of Duty titles retail there for R1200.
Just fucking what?!
Apparently there’s a tiered pricing strategy in place in Australia, where some games will actually retail at that price on release. Sometimes they get cheaper, sometimes they don’t, however even if they did get cheaper, surely R1200-worth upon release is a bit fucking much?
Meanwhile, people in South Africa are complaining because the price of Grand Theft Auto V increased by some 2%.
As if the grass isn’t green enough, as we all know, Grand Theft Auto V is one of those games that is always going to be in trouble with the ACB, so that game might have its own issues in Australia, whereas now that he is here in South Africa, the dude can just check out the game in its full glory, for a fraction of the price he would pay there. Sure he can play online at 100Mbps from year-end, but you know what? I can see blood in my games. I think I win.
It was their turn to be in some shock when I told them that I had actually done an interview on a local radio station regarding Saints Row IV being refused classification in Australia. They probably weren’t fans of the purple dildo bat. Too real, I guess.
It’s typical for a family to compare their current living situation to that of somewhere else. It’s typical even, for different families to pseudo-compete. But in this one situation there was one clear winner, and that was South African gaming.
Sometimes we just do not realise how amazingly awesome we have it. I know those are two extremely overused words to describe cool things but I think this one time, they’re relevant. And I for one am a Proudly South African Gamer. Or: PSAG.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to advise some friends on the best place to get extorted for an Xbox One and PlayStation 4, when they release here…