The furor over Bully won’t be going away any time soon as several well-respected educational and child advocacy organizations appear to be joining the fight.
As reported by the Boston Globe, Dr. David Walsh, president of the National Institute on Media & Family, has weighed in on the Bully controversy. Walsh told the newspaper:
“We don’t think this game is appropriate for kids of any age. It glamorizes and rewards the kind of anti social behaviors that teachers struggle with every day… In one scene, the so-called hero sits in a tree like a sniper. Instead of a firearm, he has a slingshot. His target is the football team… This is an example of the inadequacy of the rating system…”
NIMF is warning parents off of Bully and urging retailers not to sell the game to teens.
Marlene Snyder, a national training coordinator for the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program at Clemson University in South Carolina, expressed concerns that Bully takes place in school and that it deals with interpersonal relationships rather than with inanimate objects:
“Because it’s torn from a teen’s real life, it becomes a how-to manual. In a world of escalating violence, this is not the message we need to be giving kids.”
Barbara Coloroso, author of The Bully, the Bullied & the Bystander, told the Globe:
“For a young kid who’s been relentlessly tormented, afraid to go to school, socially isolated, the game provides a kind of comfort: `Yes! This guy gets back at them!’ …the more they play, the more the neural pathways in the brain connect violence to pleasure.”
The Globe piece also dings Rockstar spokesman Rodney Walker for an interview posture described as “not forthcoming.”
The article also cites a Jack Thompson letter to the ESRB which urges the ratings board to change Bully from a T (13 and older) to an M (17 and older). Thompson’s letter is described by the newspaper as “forceful.” Forceful, indeed. Addressed to ESRB head Patricia Vance, Thompson’s letter includes the following “forceful” excerpts:
- “Take-Two has just had sex with the Lady holding the scales of Justice.”
- “You, Ms. Vance, now have a really, really, really serious problem… you’re pwned.”
- “You’re broken, Ms. Vance, and we’re going to fix you.”
- “Fraud has been committed, and the price therefore is going to be exacted, not upon me but upon you and Take-Two, your constant ratings scandal companion.”
- “I would suggest that you stop primping for photo ops and do your job, while you still have it. You have until Wednesday, Ms. Vance, then all Hell is going to break loose.”