An international coalition of teachers groups is calling for a ban on the sale of Bully: Scholarship Edition, saying the game encourages kids to be bullies.
"We're asking retailers to be responsible," Canadian Teachers Federation President Emily Noble told the Globe and Mail. "Yes, they can sell it and make a buck out of this, but is this the kind of marketing that they want to be (doing), selling games that glorify violence?"
The new version of Bully, originally released in 2006 for the PlayStation 2, went on sale today for the Wii and Xbox 360. The Scholarship Edition features added content including new missions, courses, unlockable items and clothing, minigames and awards. The Xbox 360 version will also offer an online multiplayer option.
"What it does is it encourages kids to target other kids, to be a bully with other kids," Noble continued. "This doesn't help us as teachers in the work that we're doing at school. It also targets teachers at the school as well."
Rockstar defended the game against the criticism, noting that it is an "entertainment experience" and adding, "Videogames are not just for children. This game happens to be about high school and it's a tough kid in a tough environment, but it's also one of the funniest games you will play." And Michael Hoeschsmann, an assistant professor at McGill University, said banning the game is the wrong approach. "As tempting as it may seem, I'm not so certain that banning this will somehow results in a more peaceful and more loving school population," he said.
Hoeschsmann added that in his role as an expert in the field of violence in videogames, he has found no compelling evidence to suggest that playing violent videogames leads to violent behavior in real life, and added that the environment in Bully is so exaggerated that players are forced to become a kind of schoolyard vigilante. "This young person being confronted with all that seeks the one remedy that he appears to have access to," he said. "If there was a peaceful schools committee at the Bullworth Academy, maybe Jimmy would have joined the committee."