Bully Controversy Resurrected with Release of Scholarship Edition

March 4, 2008 -
An international coalition of teachers is targeting today's launch of Bully: Scholarship Edition for the Xbox 360 and Wii.

The game is essentially an updated version of the original Bully, which launched amidst a Jack Thompson-fueled storm of controversy in October, 2006. A story appearing in today's Globe and Mail describes the game as follows:
[Bully: Scholarship Edition] features a shaven-headed teenager who adjusts to life at a new boarding school by harassing others, which the organizations say glorifies bullying. The abuse includes dunking pupils' heads in toilets, photographing them naked and physically assaulting them. Teachers are also targeted.

Emily Noble, president of the Canadian Teachers' Federation, told the newspaper:
We're asking retailers to be responsible. 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?

What it does is it encourages kids to target other kids, to be a bully with other kids. 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.

Rodney Walker, a spokesman for Bully publisher Rockstar, offered counterpoint:
As a matter of principle, we hope everyone starts off by saying, ‘Okay, we know this is an entertainment experience. Video games 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...

McGill University professor Michael Hoechsmann, who riled gamers just last week with comments about shoot 'em up Army of Two, said that any move to ban Bully: Scholarship Edition was misguided:
As tempting as it may seem, I'm not so certain that banning this will somehow result in a more peaceful and more loving school population... This young person being confronted with all that [abuse] seeks the one remedy that he appears to have access to. If there was a peaceful schools committee at the Bullworth Academy, maybe Jimmy would have joined the committee.

Comments

"If there was a peaceful schools committee at the Bullworth Academy, maybe Jimmy would have joined the committee."
Oh yes, talking through your problems will be a best-seller.

@DeusPayne

Actually I have found that most of the time the teachers are well aware of the bullying and who the bullies are. Unfortunately they often choose, for a variety of reasons, to allow it to continue.

Groups usually choose both alpha and omega members, and it is in a school's best interst to keep the _group_ stable, which means letting the alphas (who often also have parents willing to kick up a storm if you punish them) be alphas and keeping the omegas as omegas (who's parents rarely cause the school trouble).

I have a feeling what _really_ pisses people off about this game is it encourages omegas fighting back, which is something american socicaty (and esp the educational system) tends to be very against. After all, how are we supposed to train our next generation of leaders if they don't have worthless people to treat like explitive? I've often seen parents justify bully behavior has 'well, it's encouraging him to be dominant!', and unforutnatly I've also seen attempts of omegas to even escape as 'well, we need them socializing out there!' which is code for 'my little billy needs people to be better then! how dare they not make themselves available! it's not like they are people, they don't even have an SUV!'

Here is an idea: Start working on preventing real life bullying and wait with the virtual crusade until later.

@Neeneko

I'd say that asking game stores not to sell Bully is an attempt to sweep the issue under the rug, yes. I mean how else would you characterize it?

@Ian Cooper

Because the game does not in fact glorify bullying, but fighting back against abusive behavior. THAT is what they want sept under the rug.

That and keeping up appearances. If teacher's unions come out saying 'this game is bad because it encourages bullying! stores shouldn't sell it!' then they keep up the image of being against bullying without risking anything.

the fuck man
*slams head on desk*

@lumi

See, now you're actually discussing it with me rather than insulting me, I appreciate that ;)

I do agree that it must beat the top of the list of stimuli that trigger such things. However, I believe that the approach of many people in regards to children and childhood in general is fundamentally flawed.

Childhood is not a magical fairy land where everything is sweet and innocent, nor is it meant to be. People constantly trying to protect their children from things are doing them no favors in life at all.

Bullying, like falling over when you spin around in circles, or breaking your arm when you fall out of a tree that you were told not to climb but did anyway, is simply part of learning about life.

Now, I'm not going to deny that if someone is getting seriously hurt, especially physically, something needs doing.. and yes, I know there is a grey area. However, society in general and especially schools are slipping FAR to far into "we must protect children from everything bad in life for as long as possible!"... especially if you consider that, at least in certain areas and societies, we are forcing young adults to be children far to long as it is.

@ kurisu 7885

I get what you are saying because Jack Thompson is a major lier.

Just because there was the Hot Coffee mode in GTA San Andres out of all the other Rockstar games Jack tries to make it seem like Rockstar would add unlockable guns which is a bunch of nonsense.

Since a few of you are talking about bullying I would like to say that I was abused by family and bullied by both students and some teachers that saw me as a soft target when I was a nervous loner and I to this day in my mid twenties have no criminal record and I play extremely violent games.
I would have to say that violent video games have kept me out of trouble from attacking bad people. After playing a violent video game for a while I notice that I feel like alot of pressure is off of me and I do not have negative things going through my mind on what happened to me until a while later and then I would just pop in a violent video game like Halo 3 and have a good time letting out my anger with other people online.

Jack Thompson needs to just shut up when it comes to people training on games because there is no evidence in any case other than a certain violent game was in someones house. Wow, a violent video game is in someones room just like millions of other rooms.

[...] [Via GamePolitics] [...]

::just facepalms and screams at the sky::

People just don't get it. Then again the teacher coalitions view on this shows one thing, they can't do a damned thing about real world bullying.

Bobby Hill is on the cover of the game!? Anyway... why can't some people just let it go?

Jeese didn't they learn anything from when the PS2 version was released?

They probably dont even know that it's been out on the ps2 for years.

We have a copy of this game. I watched my husband play it. Contrary to what these talking heads are saying, it's not that extreme. Yes there is violence. However, it's not against the weak, it's against those who are doing the bullying. As the protagonist, you have to act within certain parameters or risk everything. You have curfews, responsibility to get to class; these classes unlock special skills. You run errands for the cafeteria lady. It's not all gratuitous violence. It has a decent story. And of course, what these moronic people forget to mention is that when your character first arrives, you're tormented so you're rebelling against an unfair system.

People can have whatever opinion they want about Bully. It's not my (or anyone else's place) to try to shut them up. But don't limit anyone's ability to subject themselves to this so-called glorification of violence.

I mean, come on. Have we forgotten that we live in the United States? I find it highly disturbing that I've had to bring this up twice in the last 2 stories, but it seems as if these people decided it's okay to replace the provisions Constitution with their desire to impose their beliefs on everybody else.

"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?"


Uh, yes?

Someone needs to ask these people how they can prove that bullying has increased or has become more present since the PS2 version of the game was released MORE THAN A YEAR AGO, and if they can't, they fail.

"We’re asking retailers to be responsible. 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 biggest delusion of all is the assumption that business ethics are the same as human ethics. The goal of business is to make money. As long as it is legal to sell, it is ethical. The responsibility of the buyer is to apply their own ethics to their purchases.

While it is reasonable to ask parents not to buy the game if they find the content objectionable, it is unreasonable to require companies to do that for you. The biggest reason is that they will have to charge you more if they add this overhead to their marketing costs, just like the ESRB costs get added to the cost of a game.

@ Robert Gauss

The biggest delusion of all is the assumption that business ethics are the same as human ethics. The goal of business is to make money. As long as it is legal to sell, it is ethical.


Try reading consumerist.com and tell me that. You can make money legally and still have it be unethical.

But as for this. I find it hilarious that the same guy who railed against Army of Two is supporting this game. But they are in two different ballparks.

This is yet again a case of concerned people lacking any symblance of intelligence regarding what they are arguing against.

E. Zachary Knight
More like a lack of precise info.. god knows my mouth is riddled with "info gaps" :P

They seem to be under the illusion that something can be be done to stop bullying.

Of course you can stop individual cases but bullying as a whole isn't going to go away. It's part of life.

If you put 500 people in building every day for several years do you really think there's not going to be some kind of confrontation?

Just so you guys know I am actually in the process of interviewing Michael Hoechsmann and I will have a post out soon, I am going to try to get it submitted online to sites like this.

500? Think about city public schools that have thousands upon thousands. Yeah, bullying and fights in school will always happen. And that's ignoring the fact that this game DOESN'T promote bullying. But why would we expect an informed opinion from teachers, it's not like they need to be role models to children or anything. /sarcasm

Perhaps if they paid more attention to the kids and less attention on scapegoats, they'd actually be more aware of kids who are bullies and are being bullied in schools.

Here we go again.

These misinformed people are more then likely worried about the Wii version the most because they think that it will teach kids how to harm teachers and students.

From my experience of letting out anger on video games I would have to say that the Wii version would be good for students acting like they are taking on a Bully with the motions rather than go shoot the school up.

I think to myself would these people rather have mad students take their anger out on virtual bullies or do something big in real life.

People like Jack Thompson are too ignorant to ever understand that.

I bought this game as well and what bianca says is true
this game is the exact opposite of what all the big political idiots are saying it is. its not glorifying bullying in school it is actually about a person who is trying to stop the bullying by showing the real bullies how it feels to be bullied for once. i salute rockstar for this despite games like GTA.

My wife watched me play through a large chunk of the PS2 version.

She could not for the life of her understand what all the controversy was about, she just could not believe there are people in the world who would put so much time into condemning it. It actually made her despair that there are so many people in the world who are so vocal, but so very, very stupid.

For the record, she is a teacher, and a damned good one at that.

Thanks Ichi.

Personally, I wasn't shocked by Prof. Hoechsmann's rants against Army of Two and the game industry's lack of originality, even though I didn't totally agree. And I was sad to see how much he was bashed. To me, it was unfair and misguided. We should accept game critics, even though we disagree with them as long as they come from honest people.

Yeah, there were no bully's before video games.

Teachers never bailed me outta trouble with bullies - so they can STFU.

@Overcast

Nonsense! Everyone know bullying comes from games. You can also download guns from the internet and use them to shoot people.

Lol, just kidding. The gun thing is directed at JTs pathetic attempts to blame CS for shootings. "I just downloaded this Glock from the internet, let's go shoot up a school or two, because CS taught me how!"

[...] [Via GamePolitics] [...]

You know what single thing contributes most to "encouraging kids to target other kids, to be a bully with other kids"? Teachers!

Yes, that's right - the dirty secret of the education system is that bullying is engendered, not by video games, but by teachers not paying enough attention to the social situation the kids are in while they're in school. The game Bully does a lot to point out a problem that has existed in school literally for centuries, and it's a problem that will not get solved by teachers banding together to sweep the issue under the rug.

It's about time that the blame for the poor environment that promotes bullying was placed where it really belongs - on the teachers who let bullying happen on their watch.

@Ian Cooper

Sweep under the rug?

Teachers, administrators, and parents have an interest in allowing bullying to continue. Sure they want to maintain an appearance of being against it but when it comes down to it bullying is a part of the social system that keeps all three happy and they generally don't want it disrupted.

[...] The composition begins with “a warning to parents to investigate what their kids are playing…” before recounting much of the knowledge from today’s Globe and Mail coverage, which we’ve already cited in the preceding GP story. [...]

I don't really know what irritates me more about this whole situation, the fact that people have no clue what Bully is about (lets face it, its called "Bully", they are infact making assumptions that are fair considering that), or the constant attitude that being bullied somehow scars people for life and needs to be stamped out aggressively by adults.

Like many gamers of my generation, I was bullied as a child, rather badly actually... and when I was, and my parents found out, they did not go down to the school and demand retribution.. they didn't let me hide at home.. they pushed me out the door every single day. When I discussed being bullied with my father, the message was simple... sometimes, as a kid, other kids say and do hurtful things, they do so as an adult as well, you have to learn to ignore it. That, or hurt them back, since when you are a child is the only time you can get away with that.

Being bullied, frankly, is part of growing up for anyone who is going to live their life as anything that main stream society considers "strange". As gaming becomes main stream, gamers will be less of a target.. but there will still be those who are. It only scars people for life if truly terrible actions are taken, far beyond being called names, the odd punch or kick or having your head flushed, or.. and this is the far more common one.. everyone fusses over you and tells you how terrible it must be.

For those about to rail against what I am saying and call me out as unfeeling or not understanding.. take a close look at almost any social, pack, creature in the natural world... wolves, lions, monkies... their young, as they grow up, fight and pick on one another, establishing a pecking order and teaching each other the basics idea that life isn't fair... Bullying, is our version of that.

QUICK HERD OVER IN THIS DIRECTION!!! now the rockstar has the mindless herd following it around, would they be so kind as to lead them off a cliff?

"I have a feeling what _really_ pisses people off about this game is it encourages omegas fighting back, which is something american socicaty (and esp the educational system) tends to be very against."

Umm, what? This sounds very un-Capitalistic if you take it in certain contexts. So how is it American where the "little guys" can't chase their dream of one day being like the "big guys"?

@ Thomas

If you're going to deny that bullying isn't the #1 source of school shootings, which alone is justification for doing everything we can to properly mitigate it in our schools, then I don't think you have a place having an intelligent discussion on the matter.

isn't == is, typo X.x

Where were those experts?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asa_Coon
http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/10/11/cleveland.shooting/index.html

"Other students said Coon was a "Goth" who usually wore black clothes and a trench coat and strapped an empty gun belt to his leg. He was an atheist and a devoted follower of Goth rocker Marilyn Manson.

A schoolmate said Coon had been beaten up Monday after saying "F--- God" during an argument."

"Eventually he was released to home detention and enrolled in SuccessTech, a small magnet school for gifted and troubled students where Coon frequently clashed with teachers and other students.

"I ain't justifying nothing," a friend told CNN affiliate WOIO. "I ain't saying he did the right thing, but I am saying he got pushed for a long time and asked them people to help, help, help, help, but nobody helped.""

Where were those experts?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E.O._Green_School_shooting

"It was reported that King was shot because he was openly gay and sometimes dressed in a "feminine" manner. "

Where were those experts?

http://www.rightwingwatch.org/2006/11/school_board_me.html

"During the public meeting, William Scherfel, a former township supervisor who was elected to the school board on a promise not to build any new schools, made repeated references to the gay/straight alliance as a “sex club,” employing a bit of common right-wing spin. After a couple of school board members pointed out that his characterization of the club was inaccurate, Scherfel replied, “Ok, the faggots.”"

And many more.

But, no, according to those experts, it's the fault of a video game with a fictional storyline.

Nightwng2000
NW2K Software
Nightwng2000 NW2K Software http://www.facebook.com/nightwing2000 Nightwng2000 is now admin to the group "Parents For Education, Not Legislation" on MySpace as http://groups.myspace.com/pfenl

@Thomas
I guess you could say that bullying is our way of the heirarchy, but it seems that it is based on whats mainstream and what isn't. Kinda funny that usually it takes fighting back (and winning) to get respect out of the bullies. Like the predator vs prey relation, predators hunt for the weak, humans are no exception to this rule. Cept we don't kill and hit the prey (i hope not anyway)

@ Ian Cooper
I solidly agree. The teachers are in no position to complain about the game if they can't even control bullying themselves.

@lumi

I was bullied ALOT at school, many other people were, I did not shoot up my school and yet most of the reports of what I have heard happening to those who shot up schools applied to me as well.

Infact, as a gamer, a roleplayer, the son of a manic depressive mother and a working class father who simply did not understand why I would want anything more in life than doing the same menial labour he always had, who was bullied at school constantly for my entire time there, I was something the poster child for people who were expected to be dangerous in that way.

Difference is, I grew up in England.. where I couldn't walk into a Walmart and buy a gun. My parents were also caring and supportive, in their fashion, and the society around me did not raise me under the misguided impression that life is always going to be fair to me while simultaneously showing me through actions that it blatantly was not true.

School shootings are not just caused by one thing, be it bullying, media input, or what have you.. they are the product of disturbed individuals' reaction to society as it is today, when given the tools to take action that many people may consider, briefly, in the privacy of their own thoughts.. and being disturbed enough to actually take it.

I'm not going to deny that it may have been part of the trigger, what I WILL say is that, like video games, it was not the cause purely in and off itself.. and most importantly, that for a vast majority of people, and in a vast majority of situations, while unpleasant, it is nowhere near as bad or life scaring as people like to make out. In many cases it would actually be LESS damaging if adults did not get so worked up about it, if they did not view childhood as some magical time where everything is meant to be good and pure and sweet and happy.

Part of growing up, and becoming a productive human being (which is the only purpose of childhood and teenage years), is learning about social pecking orders and, at the end of the day, the fact that life isn't always fair. It is about learning to deal with hat person who treats you bad because they don't like your face.

I can tell you now, I certainly deal better with it than someone who is constantly being told to run to mommy and how unfair it is and how they are bad people, that I should cry and that acting in a socially unusual way will be accepted by everyone, that anyone who doesn't accept it is strange and wrong.. people are just people, if you behave strangely you will have to deal with people who dont like it, and sometimes you need to deal with people who jut don't like you without reacting so emotional to it.

@Mark of Cain

More like won't do anything.

@Condemned 2 Maniac

For all we know, JT was a school bully.


And when did photographing students naked become possible? I played the game form beginning to end. I don't remember this.

Must be like how some imagined that there would be hidden AK47s in game.

@ Thomas:

I don't claim bullying is the only reason; you're quite right in that we'd have school shootings every single day if that were the case. And it's also correct that it takes a seriously disturbed individual to perpetrate those causes in the first place.

But it also takes outside stimuli to push them to the point of breaking, and I am absolutely saying that bullying is at the top of that list of outside stimuli.

There's a HUGE grey area between "omg this child has been sheltered all his life and now he doesn't know how to socialize or interact with the real world" and "eh, bullying is a part of life, we don't need to do anything about it".

I need to place my voice out here. I was bullied in school and know full well the apathy of the faculty. Growing up the only way that the faculty would get involved in bullying was when the bullied would fight the bully back. The problem was that both the bully and the bullied were treated just the same and both punished the same. There was no extra punishment for the bully for all the time they spent bullying without being opposed.

The biggest problem is that teachers and other faculty members let the school kids develop their own pecking order. That is not how it should be. The teachers should be at the top of the food chain. They should be the most respected people in the school not the bullies.

Unfortunately, their hands are tied in most cases. They cannot trully punish bullies without fear of lawsuits and other crap from the parents of the bully. After all the bully is just being sociable. Not. They also fear that by suspending or expelling the bully, they will lose sports games as the bully is most likely a member of the team, at least in my experience.

I usually tried to avoid the bullies. Sometimes it was easy and other times not so much. It is really bad when they want a fight. They will block your path. They will egg you into a fight. They want a reason to hit you, kick you etc. They will do anything to make you throw that first punch. If you don't throw the first punch after the verbal abuse, they will resort to physical means. They will grab you. They will push you. They will take you stuff. Anything to get you to throw that first punch. Boy is it hard not to throw it. If by some means you retain your composure and avoid throwing the first punch after all this, then they start wiling on you anyway.

There should be more order in school. There should be rules placed and enforced by the faculty. Unfortunately no one cares.

Unfortunately, even if the schools did more about bullying, they only have athority on campas. Once you and the bully are off school grounds, the faculty can't do anything about it.

@Neeneko
Not sure I needed the bleeding obvious spelled out for me, but okay.

Thanks for the save! I almost forgot this was coming out soon. I need to pick it up for the Wii. I didn't get in last time.
As for bullying. I've had my nose broken and my finger broken bad (took steel pins through the joint to piece it back together). I've been thrown into a patch of poison ivy and various other unfun things. I was the butt of my class.

Guess what. Going to the faculty doesn't help. I've been punched as soon as a techers back was turned. If you go to the faculty, it just means you will get beaten up more. Being caught by a teacher didn't teach the kids to not hurt, it only taught them to not be caught.

The solution turned up right after getting my nose broken. Fighting back. Someone hurts you, and you go to a techer, you will get hurt again. If you say nothing, you will get hurt again. Fighting back, effectively, means that person won't tangle with you again. It helped that, in my case, the guy was older, bigger, and stronger. The fact that this didn't stop me pretty much told others that if I would fight back against him, I might do anything.

Is it the right message to be giving children? I don't know. I do know I wish I had gotten it earlier. Teachers (like my mother) and faculty like to think that school is all safe and friendly. It isn't. Even when I was growing up in a relativly rural, no weapon environment, school was war. You had diplomatic alternatives, but they didn't always work. I was a good talker, people would say that I laid the blarney stone. But you can't talk your way out of things all the time.

The key is propper retaliation. Public shaming is bad, so is anything that will warrent their own retaliation. A few punches in the gut with an explanation that you are doing them a favor for not marking them up or humilating them. Afterwards, I've actually made friends once or twice (not good friends, but no more violence between us).

The idea that you can make it through the world by talking or bending over is unrealistic. However, you shouldn't teach that violence is the best solution.

Parents keep thinking that children are being made violent by videogames. Guess what, children are violent from the get go. Raising a child to be non-violent merely means they will be the target of others' violence. They will still be exposed to violence, but with the additional leason that being bigger means it is right to hurt others. This, in turn, leads them to abuse anyone smaller. Anyone who thinks that you can fight violence with kindness hasn't really seen violence. They have probably seen pettiness and thought it was violence.

Violence has it's place in our society, as it has had it's place in every other society since the dawn of time. The key is to fight violence with inteligence. In movies this usually has the smart kid pulling embarrasing pranks on the bigger kids. In real life, you are lucky if that only leads to some broken ribs. To really fight violence with inteligence means the propper mix of violence, talking, and face saving.You let them know you don't want to be messed with. You have to demonstrate that you are capable of doing worse in retaliation (you actually HAVE to be able to do worse). You have to also not humiliate the other person, or they will have to retaliate. Let them know that you aren't trying to change their social standing, you just want to be left out of it. Explain you have your own problems, and that you would rather not have any more if you can help it.

After a talk like that (and a small butt kicking) I've actually had one bully telling another bully to lay off me, I was cool.

Wow, seems we have a lot of experts here, so let me ask: How exactly is "bullying" defined, anyway? Is it only bullying if a stronger kid picks on a weaker kid? (What if the interaction is not physical -- then is it only bullying if the smarter kid picks on the stupider kid?) Is it bullying to exclude someone from a group, or is it only bullying only if they are included but then teased? What exactly is the difference between bullying and teasing, anyway?

Because, as far as I can tell, the label "bullying" is worse than useless. Instead of identifying any real issue, it lumps together all the bad experiences that every single one of us has had, feeling picked on as a child, and then assigns that vague concept an empty (but convenient) label, so we can condemn the behavior at large without ever having to consider any actual interactions between any actual children.

"Bullying" is just an idea. It isn't something we can fix, or even directly address. It's just an empty label. Saying we should fight bullying in our schools is as useless as declaring "war on drugs" (or a "war on terrorism," for that matter). You can't wage war on an abstract concept, and you can't fight bullying by boycotting a video game.

@lumi
I found your implication that any human being could be reduced to a series of outside stimuli to be somewhat offensive to ideals of individual accountability in a free society, which I value. I found your rush to blame the bullies instead of the shooters for school shootings to be just plain disgusting.
 
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