Rockstar's Bully hasn't been released yet, but the game has already seen its share of hate. Set in a fictional prep school, Bully follows 15-year-old Jimmy Hopkins as he copes with bullies, teachers, and other sorts at his school. When faced with getting his head dunked in a toilet or being beaten to a bloody pulp, Jimmy learns that talking his way out of confrontation isn't always practical and that he can use various weapons, including baseball bats, to even the playing field.
This portion of the game has upset many groups, including outspoken Florida antigame lawyer Jack Thompson and youth group Peaceoholics. One more can be added to the list today, as Jayne Hitchcock, president of activist group Working to Halt Online Abuse, has spoken out against the game.
"How long will it be before we hear on the news about a victim of bullies who is inspired by the new game and retaliates using a baseball bat?" asks Hitchcock, in a statement that proclaimed her as an "Internet expert." "There is a tremendous probability that this new game will send out twisted messages, possibly even influence victims of bullying to resort to violence as a means of defense."
Citing a report by The American Justice Department, Hitchcock points out that 77 percent of students say they have been bullied and one in five has admitted to being a bully. The statement didn't mention any specific demographics.
"[The glorification of the game's violence] targets the video game to kids and teens, who are impressionable and might come to believe they could be just like Jimmy Hopkins and beat the daylights out of their real-life bullies," says Hitchcock. "That is not the message that should be sent out."
Late last week, the group known as Peaceoholics protested in front of Rockstar's offices in New York City, demanding that the company not release Bully. A gamer known as "The Software Pirate" documented the protest, which consisted of chants of "This game is bananas, B-A-N-A-N-A-S."
Despite opposition, Rockstar is pushing along with the game's release. Earlier this month, Rockstar revealed that the game would be available in October on the PlayStation 2, and a company spokesperson told Reuters, "Finally, Bully can speak for itself. People can look at the game and see what it is and what it's not."
Bully has not yet been rated by the Entertainment Software Ratings Board.