British Member of Parliament Keith Vaz has urged the government to refer Rockstar’s in-development title Bully
to the official British Board of Film Classification monitoring body. If this is not done, he maintains, then the game should be banned.
Although it is not due for release until next year and has never been demonstrated in public, the game has already caused notable controversy because of its supposed portrayal of bullying in schools. In August the UK-founded Bullying Online called for the game to be banned
, while the Washington based Peaceaholics group also called for the game not be released
The latest complaint against the game has come from MP Keith Vaz, who asked House of Commons leader Geoff Hoon the question: “Do you share my concern at the decision of Rockstar to publish a new game called Bully
in which players use their on-screen persona to kick and punch other schoolchildren? Will you ask the prime minister to refer this video to the British Board of Film Classification? If they don't make any changes will the government use its powers to ban this video [sic]?"
Hoon’s answer was simply that Rockstar had yet to submit the game for classification and that the degree to which the game might be considered harmful to children was “not yet known”.
Former Minister for Europe (before he we was forced to resign after being implicated in a scandal involving citizenship applications for two prominent Indian businessmen,) Vaz has been perhaps the prominent political critic of the video games industry in Britain, having spoken publically regarding a 2004 murder case
originally attributed to video game use.
Speaking to the BBC's website, director general of ELSPA (Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association), Roger Bennett has commented that, "As Mr Vaz knows, any game can be automatically referred to the BBFC for a rating. It is disingenuous to suggest any game be banned when the content has yet to be finalized." A representative from developer Rockstar Vancouver added that the game would contain an “engaging story” and that games should not be “judged by their titles”.