UK Anti-Bullying Charity Mounts Bully Protest

Following earlier confirmation that Take-Two publishing label Rockstar Games plans to release it...
Following earlier confirmation that Take-Two publishing label Rockstar Games plans to release its controversial PlayStation 2-exclusive title Bully this October, the UK-founded charity organization calling itself Bullying Online has again called for the title to be banned. The organization, which was set up to help stop bullying and provide information to students, parents and teachers on topics like cyberbullying, racism and homophobia, has been vocal about the upcoming game since its announcement, as both it and British MP Keith Vaz earlier called for the game to be banned, with infamous anti-game lawyer Jack Thompson also joining the early chorus of disapproval over the game. Washington group the Peaceaholics also called upon Rockstar to not release the game, with the most recent protests being organized by the Miami-Dade County School Board. “We'd hoped that Rockstar had ditched this game following our complaints about it a year ago,” said Bullying Online director Liz Carnell. “We don't think this game is likely to leave players with a warm and fuzzy feeling.” She added: “Bullying is not fun and it's not a suitable topic for a game. This charity is contacted by thousands of parents and children a year for whom school bullying makes their lives a total misery. Up to four of the children who contact us every day are suicidal.” Interestingly, it is still unclear whether Bully is entirely about bullying, but the provocative name is obviously the major rallying point. A recent Rocky Mountain News article, written after hands-on play with the game, explains the gameplay a little better, noting: "While there is an illusion of complete autonomy in Bully, the game builds boundaries by punishing and rewarding behavior such as skipping class or attacking a teacher. Another key component to Bully, its developers say, is its complex social network built around the game’s five cliques. The way you interact with a particular member of a group affects the way they treat you during the game." Nonetheless: “Youngsters copy what they see on TV and in games,” continued Carnell. “When wrestling was popular on TV we had numerous complaints about young children hurting others by copying the behaviour they had seen on the screen.”

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