Controversy Surrounds Bully

RockStar, publishers of the controversial Grand Theft Auto series, is in hot water again as it finds itself deep in stormy protests from parents and children™s advocate groups concerning the upcoming title, Bully. The game, scheduled for release in April of 2006, is based upon the storyline of school bullies harassing and physically abusing their classmates. In one pre-release screenshot, a bully is attacking a student while another looks on and is apparently about to join in the foray. Ms. Liz Carnell, director of "Bullying Online", an organization which helps parents, children and adults to combat and cope with bullying, said in an interview with the BBC, "Bullying is not a suitable theme for a game. It diminishes the suffering of victims. And such games give the impression that these types of experiences are normal. We are very concerned that they have an effect on young people. We are contacted by up to four children a day who are suicidal, and many many more who have suffered injuries and trauma. In rebuttal to the complaints to the release of the upcoming game, Bully, a spokesman for Rockstar said, We take the problem of violence in school very seriously and support groups trying to address it. But we have different views on art and entertainment. People should not judge what is [a] work in progress. The theme is not the only aspect of Rockstar’s games – they have been consistently praised for their strategies and the experiences they offer players." Are the releases of these types of games merely an exercise in freedom of expression and creative license or are the reasons more fundamental and dark — violence sells and makes money? The answer may lie somewhere in the middle, but the cynical among us would say that the battle against these laws by the video game companies is driven more by profit, rather than a need for self-expression. Whether this is true or not remains to be seen, but it is a sobering thought that freedom of expression might be used as a cover to sell inappropriate material to minors.


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Author: GamerNode Staff View all posts by

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