A new release of Rockstar’s Bully is causing controversy in the U.K., with several agencies calling for the game to be banned.
Bully: Scholarship Edition, which is slated for a March release for the Wii and Xbox 360, has become the target of opposition from numerous groups in the country, according to a report in the Telegraph. “We’re disappointed this game was created in the first place,” said Niall Cowley of the charity BeatBullying. “Some mindless people thought this was a fun, interesting piece of software to create, but it undermines all the hard work that organizations like ours are seeking to do. Our philosophy is about educating young people that bullying is not a cool thing to do, and this leaves us with a bad taste in the mouth.”
Steve Sinnott, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, called for the game to be banned, saying, “We’re deeply concerned that all the work in cutting out bullying and cyber bullying in school does not seem to have made any impact on the consciences of the makers of this game. The dialog about the pernicious effects of bullying appears to have been ignored. It is an encouragement to violence and intimidation, and those things have a major impact on schools.”
An earlier version of the game was released in the country in 2006, exclusively for the PlayStation 2. With that release, Rockstar attempted to dodge controversy over the game’s content by renaming the European edition of the game to Canis Canem Edit, Latin for Dog Eat Dog. With this release, however, the company will revert to the more familiar appellation of Bully.
At least one U.K. retailer has already decided not to carry the title. A spokesman for PC World and Currys said, “We don’t think this is suitable for sale in our stores. We are careful about what we sell and this is something we have decided not to list.”
But a Rockstar representative claimed the game was intended to send a message about overcoming bullies, calling it a tongue-in-cheek “comedic romp” that received critical acclaim and sold well in the U.K. “It is not a game about playing a bully,” the representative said. “It is about the trials and tribulations of a boy in his first year at school. He protects children against other characters. People have to be able to make their own decisions and to judge for themselves, with an open mind.”