Bully Controversy Resurrected with Release of Scholarship Edition

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.

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