Bully Debate… Teacher: Gamers Don’t Get It… Developer: Teachers Should Play the Game

The debate over Bully: Scholarship Edition continues to rage, primarily in Canada.

There, Mary-Lou Donnelly, head of the Nova Scotia Teachers Union, pens an op-ed slamming the game in the Halifax Chronicle-Herald. Among her points: Gamers just don’t get it:
 

Reporters, newspaper editors and game promoters have tried to downplay the game, saying that teacher organizations are overreacting… One accused teachers of not giving students enough credit to distinguish between reality and fantasy. Another said that teachers had missed the boat because the game could be used as a teaching tool against bullying…

 

Clearly, the creators and promoters of the game just don’t get it… A game such as Bully: The Scholarship Edition, which reduces bullying to a mere lark… contributes nothing positive to youth culture. Indeed, it contradicts everything that educators are trying to accomplish…

Well, here’s a hard fact: Bullying is never fun! 

Meanwhile, game developer Clint Hocking, writing for his Click Nothing blog, has issued a challenge to the educators who are protesting Bully:
 

Since I haven’t even played Bully – and probably neither [have the teachers who are protesting it], I wonder if we even can contribute anything? Ought we enter into debate about public access to media that we have not even engaged ourselves? That seems unethical to me…

Instead, I am going to invite [the teachers] to examine it with me, and to enter into a critical discussion of its merits and the difficulties it may or may not pose to students and to teachers… I extend an open invitation to play Bully with me, and once we have all finished we can collectively engage in an informed dialogue about the merits or failings of the game.

Jason Della Rocca, executive director of the International Game Developers Association (IGDA), debated Ms. Donnelly on CBC last Sunday (video here). Della Rocca writes about the Bully controversy on his Reality Panic blog:
 

The teachers are missing a prime opportunity to make progress… I’d argue that teachers could have leveraged Bully to both better understand the social politics of high school (by embodying a troubled teen) and open a much needed dialog with students about bullying…

 

While some argue that Bully could have been an even more scathing critique of school life, the challenge is that many simply do not look to games for meaningful social commentary (like The Breakfast Club, for example)…

 

Ultimately, we all want to stop bullying and built safe/effective schools, and there’s no doubt that games can play an important role in that effort. We’ll see what happens next…

 

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on RedditEmail this to someone

Leave a Reply