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29 January 2006

Rockstar's new game Bully

BBC News
10 August 2005

Bully 'unsuitable theme'
for game

Campaigners say school bullies
leave long-lasting scars

A computer game called Bully in which players apparently hurt other pupils in a school has been condemned by anti-bullying campaigners.

A screenshot from the game depicts one student kicking a classmate while another looks on.

Liz Carnell, director of Bullying Online, said she was concerned younger viewers would access the game.

But the maker of Bully, Rockstar, said the game was still a "work in progress" and it was too early to judge it.


Ms Carnell told the BBC News website: "Bullying is not a suitable theme for a game. It diminishes the suffering of victims.

"And such games give the impression that these types of experiences are normal. We are very concerned that they have an effect on young people."

Ms Carnell said it was impossible to underestimate the effects of bullying, and that people suffered the effects well into adulthood.

"We are contacted by up to four children a day who are suicidal, and many many more who have suffered injuries and trauma.

"I've had dozens of complaints from people who find this game offensive," Liz Carnell added.

"But I've also had dozens of hate e-mails, some of which have been very abusive.

"I think this demonstrates the type of person this game is targeted at."

Rockstar Games has said it does not yet have a synopsis for the game, but gaming magazines have reported that Bully features a pupil at a school for juvenile offenders who assaults both other pupils and teachers.

Screenshots released by the company show a pupil outside a school called Bullworth Academy, and inside kicking another pupil.

Mature enough?

A Rockstar spokesman said its video game should be judged in the same way as any other work of fiction.

"We take the problem of violence in school very seriously and support groups trying to address it," he said.

"But we have different views on art and entertainment. People should not judge what is work in progress.

"The theme is not the only aspect of Rockstar's games -- they have been consistently praised for their strategies and the experiences they offer players."

He added that Rockstar hoped to have a constructive dialogue about the game with anti-bullying charities once it was finished.

A spokeswoman also reportedly told Bullying Online that the game's content would be no worse than the Just William series, Richmal Crompton's tales about a mischievous young schoolboy which was turned into a teatime television drama.

Rockstar has invited Bullying Online to New York to see the game for themselves.

Last week youth group Peaceaholics staged a protest outside the company's headquarters there in protest at plans to release Bully.

Rockstar is also behind the Grand Theft Auto games.

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas received an adults-only rating (18+) in the US after a fan of the game created a patch which unlocked explicit sexual content.

Recent research has suggested parents tend not to heed age certifications on video games.

The study carried out by the UK gaming industry found many parents thought their children were mature enough not to be influenced by the content of the games, and parents tended to view them as a guide to the content rather than a prohibition.

A spokeswoman for the [UK] Department for Culture, Media and Sport said she could not comment on individual games.

She said all games classified either as suitable for over-15s or over-18s by the maker of the game were then considered by the British Board of Film Classification for certification.

Symbols indicating content suitable for over-15s or 18s have recently been doubled in size, and the gaming industry decided voluntarily to introduce written warnings of adult content on the game box.

"We know that parents don't necessarily expect games to be violent by nature of the fact that they are games, so it's useful to have an explanation on the box," the spokeswoman said.

But Ms Carnell said all the evidence showed under-age game users were able to access unsuitable games.

- 30 -


Blogger Abbas Halai said...

i always thought bullying was a party of growing up. you either get some inr your ass or you beat some up. it's the same thing 30 years later in corporate north america? either you're party of the wal-mart's, or you're a small crafts shop going broke.

Blogger Bob Merkin said...

Yo Abbas

First of all, let me kvetch you in public ... Vleeptron would very much appreciate a Travelog, short or long, of your recent Overseas Trip. We (oh, okay, Me) live in Darkness, but we desire Light.

Yeah yeah, sure, you're right, bullying/being bullied is a part of growing up, just like ultraviolet and measles and chicken pox. I guess this view of the world is best portrayed in "South Park," obviously the work of two adults with very good, long memories of childhood. Every time I watch an episode, I'm watching some Horror of my own childhood.

Maybe a New World Without Bullying will/would be more important to the Adults who try to create it than to the Kids who we want to protect from bullying. An End to the Ancient Bully Culture would really be something adults could take pride in, just as they take pride in trying to end the child sex trade.

Nearly every bully I remember, it was pretty clear then, or became very clear decades later, the kid had serious emotional problems -- he was enduring a life that was a lot worse than the lives he was trying to make miserable with his bullying. So maybe one good reason for Adults to try to get a grip on the Bully Culture is for the benefit of the bullies. A school that just ignores it and takes no action to address it is responsible, certainly morally, and probably legally, for any damage, physical and psychic, its tolerated bullies do.

In my peaceful, sleepy, affluent, liberal little college town, a high-school kid stabbed another high-school kid to death in broad daylight downtown a couple of years ago. While the stabber was legally a minor, the prosecutor could have charged him as an adult and, if convicted, sent him to prison for decades. (Massachusetts doesn't have the death penalty, thank God.) After a few months of wondering what would happen, the prosecutor announced the kid would be handled as a juvenile, with its much shorter and softer punishments. The rumors were becoming clearer and louder. The dead kid had been the school bully, and had spent the year terrorizing the kid who finally stabbed him, and the high school adults had either not noticed, or had just been in deep denial about and totally ignored the situation.

The trouble with bullying is that all kids don't manage to get through all of it. You can end up with Dead Kids and kids who have to go through the rest of their lives knowing that when they finally defended themselves ('cause adults weren't doing their job of protecting them), they killed somebody. Because of bullying, my town has two young lives flushed down the toilet.

Anonymous Adam said...

It's not just a part of life; bullies are some of the most popular people out there. Just like Americans admire and re-elect leaders that send poor kids off to kill poorer kids in other countries, CEOs who fire thousands get memoirs published and movies made about them, and bosses who sufficiently violate company or government regulations are seen to "fall up" through the system, kids in school admire those who can either beat up those determined to be unpopular or arrange to have it done. The problem with people talking about ending the Bully Culture is that we seem to like it so damn much.

Blogger Bob Merkin said...

In the last years of his life (he died in 1963, on the day John F. Kennedy was assassinated), Aldous Huxley was asked by a radio interviewer what he'd learned, what Lesson of the Meaning of Life he could pass on to people. He replied:

"It is a bit embarrassing to have been concerned with the human problem all one's life and find at the and that one has no more to offer by way of advice than 'Try to be a little kinder.'"

I disagree with only one aspect of what you say. In the Public Blabbermouth Sphere, the arena that glorifies Donald Trump and makes in Icon of him for saying "You're Fired" every week in Prime Time, it SEEMS that society systematically rewards bullies.

But I think that's a very superficial and inaccurate perception of the way things really are. My personal experience then and since is that bullies are going through a Nightmare Life much worse than the nightmares they try to give their victims. I'm not saying this to try to drum up Sympathy For The School Bully. But I am saying this in hopes a community that strives to be the smartest and strongest and healthiest community it can be recognizes that The Bully Culture makes the whole community sicker and weaker and more dysfunctional than it has to be.

In recent years, some schools have tried to put anti-bullying programs in place. One thing schoolkids are trained to do when a bully Acts Out is to surround the victim and tell the bully to knock it off, so suddenly the bully isn't just bullying one kid, but is facing eight kids, a mini-mob that won't back down.

Blogger Abbas Halai said...

heh a travelogue you ask eh? unfortunately for you, i'm one of the members of the pakistani elite. the kind that gets to travel outside the country and live abroad and live a good life. the other 99% of pakistan's population don't share that privilege. the elite have a habit of living luxurious lifestyles. mostly elitist expat kids and families arrive in karachi and lahore and islamabad in the month of december (convenient since it's christmas break everywhere else in the world and it makes for a quick two week vacation). primarily, this is the time chosen for weddings to take place because all extended family can return back to pakistan. also this is the only damn weather you can wear a suit in without melting like the wicked witch of the west. so essentially, between the dates of 20th dec till 10th of jan, pretty much all of elitist karachi, lahore and islamabad is either getting married or attending weddings. (you must recall the weddings last anywhere from 4 to 10 days depending on how close you are to the person getting married) and a single wedding reception can easily have a guest list going past 2000 people.

the point of this whole monologue was that rich pakistani's have a blind eye to whats going on in the rest of the world or the rest of pakistan. they live their life and enjoy their foods and their parties. drugs are rampant. money is no problem. imported cars have 300% duties on them, yet people drive porsche's and ferrari's and bmw's and mercedes' as if they were made around the block. alcohol is flowing in quantities some pubs and bars would be overwhelmed with here. its as corrupt as you can imagine, and then even more so. bombs going off? nobody would know until two weeks later when they hear it on cnn. tv and media and advertising is huge business. don't get me wrong. a lot of people work very hard for their money as well. but a LOT of them don't. people are getting shot? so what...we have a population crisis anyway, the less the better.

the economy is booming and the karachi stock exchange has been the highest performing market in the world since the US entered afghanistan. right now technology is picking up. they need companies in north america to outsource their call centers because india is doing it so we should too. the previous nazim (mayor) that karachi had actually did some good for the city in cleaning up a lot of tax evasion, building roads and highways, and just changing revenue structures for the city. MQM and PPP are still the leading political parties of the city even though both parties leaders have federal and interpol warrants on their head, they are both living extremely comfortable lives with self imposed exiles in england.

but karachi is a world on it's own. go there some time. it's quite the spot. here's some musings of a canadian living in karachi.

Blogger Bob Merkin said...

Like ... WOW! What a travelog!!! Thanks!

... uhhh ... how much political trouble is Musharaf in after the US robot bomb of the village in the north? Could his regime be toppled? I saw Benazir Bhutto interviewed on US TV over the weekend. Will she return to run for office? Will she be arrested? What's the skinny?

-- Nosy Bob


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