Australia OKs Bully As Controversy Rumbles On

The controversy over Rockstar’s forthcoming PlayStation 2 game Bully has continued, with the president of the “Working to Halt Online Abuse” organization speaking out against the game, while Australian authorities have passed the title for distribu
The controversy over Rockstar’s forthcoming PlayStation 2 game Bully has continued, with the president of the “Working to Halt Online Abuse” organization speaking out against the game and its content, while in related news, the Australian authorities have passed the title for distribution with a moderate ‘M’ rating. In a press release, Jayne Hitchcock of “Working to Halt Online Abuse” commented that, “Early indications are that the game can be construed as violent. At the very least, the clips and previews clearly present educators in a cynical, non-comical, position. What message does this send out to troubled kids? That teachers are not to be trusted? Educators already have their hands full trying to help children who are victims of bullies. They don’t need a game that tends to ridicule them in the eyes of students.” “How long will it be before we hear on the news about a victim of bullies who is inspired by the new game and retaliates using a baseball bat?”, added Hitchcock. “There is a tremendous probability that this new game will send out twisted messages, possibly even influence victims of bullying to resort to violence as a means of defense. Games can and do make impressions on young people, especially when they play the games over and over.” Hitchcock stopped short of calling for the game to be banned, apparently acknowledging the fact that little of the game has been has been seen or previewed so far – despite its forthcoming October release date. A recent Reuters article profiling Bully explains of it: "The game's main character is 15-year-old Jimmy Hopkins, who must defend himself against school bullies at a fictional U.S. boarding school called Bullworth Academy, while dealing with characters ranging from nerds and jocks to authoritarian prefects." It continues: "Weapons included baseball bats that break after several blows, stink bombs and bags of marbles that when strategically thrown will lay flat most pursuers." The notoriously strict Australian Office of Film and Literature Classification (OFLC) has already given the game an ‘M’, indicating that it contains "moderate themes, violence and sexual references". The ‘M’ rating is a category below the highest rating of ‘MA15+’, which is in itself only used to classify games thought applicable for fifteen year olds and younger. The lack of a higher adult rating has lead to the OFLC refusing to classify a number of high profile titles including Grand Theft Auto III, Manhunt, Marc Ecko's Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure and, most recently, Reservoir Dogs. The fact that the classification board has been so relatively lenient with Bully suggests that the game many not feature the sort of ultra-violent content which many assumed by the game’s name and Rockstar’s reputation, despite the controversy to date.

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