Bully gets T rating

Take-Two Interactive, Rockstar game previously decried as a "Columbine simulator" by watchdogs deemed suitable for ages 13 and older by ESRB.

Take-Two Interactive has had its share of controversies in the last couple of years. The discovery of a sex minigame in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, dubbed "Hot Coffee," and that game's subsequent rerating comes in at the high end of the controversy scale for inspiring federal gaming legislation, while the discovery of a "nude" skin and more violence than was initially rated in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion seemed to cause less of a stir.

In between the two was Bully. Originally announced in May of 2005, the game puts players in the role of a student at the fictional Bullworth Academy, where the protagonist is said to "stand up to bullies, get picked on by teachers, play pranks on malicious kids, win or lose the girl, and ultimately learn to navigate the obstacles of the fictitious reform school." Critics soon jumped on the game, labeling it "a Columbine simulator," calling for it to be banned, and demanding that Take-Two stop production of the game.

A new wrinkle has entered the discussion today, as the Entertainment Software Rating Board told GameSpot that Bully has been rated T for Teen. When it hits the PlayStation 2 next month, Bully will carry content descriptors warning consumers of "Crude Humor, Violence, Sexual Themes, Language and Use of Alcohol & Tobacco." According to the ESRB rating guide, T for Teen games have content that "may be suitable for ages 13 and older."

Wedbush Morgan Securities analyst Michael Pachter told GameSpot he actually expected the game to get a T-for-Teen rating given recent information Take-Two has released on the game since confirming the October launch.

"I think that Take-Two generated a lot of unintentional bad will with the Hot Coffee fiasco, and I think that they are trying to enhance their reputation by avoiding controversy where it doesn't help their business," Pachter said. "Bully will be just as fun with a T rating as it would have been with an M [for Mature] rating. To be honest, I think that Manhunt would have performed better with the violence toned down a bit. It was an incredible game but got a lot of criticism from the gaming press for over-the-top violence."

Pachter said he wasn't sure if the game's rating would help or hurt its prospects at retail but said he didn't expect the game to be a huge seller, anyway.

"I have low unit estimates for the game, especially since it's only on PS2," Pachter said, "so it will likely not have a dramatic impact on the bottom line. If anything, there is probably some upside to my estimates if the game performs well."

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Discussion

261 comments
Duggla
Duggla

im gettin this game at the end of October....SUCK ON THAT JACK THOMPSON!!!!!!!!!! :)

D-Obijone
D-Obijone

This game looks cool id get it

squid360
squid360

suck on that jack thompson!

ericdillongay
ericdillongay

Oh just imagine if it was E or better yet EC! That would really prove Jack Thompson wrong with a game that teaches toddlers their ABC's and 123's!

smashbro64
smashbro64

i won't buy this game but i would of course rent it

Mocha360
Mocha360

jack tompson is gonna be really happy about this

Statickxl
Statickxl

This may or may not break the company, had they jumped at the M Rating, they could have potentially lost the game. As of right now they are being watched like hawks by every politician in the buisness, and they lost a TON of money on the hot Coffee incident. I think playing it safe was definately the way to go

grandmaster1314
grandmaster1314

I never thought I'd say this, but I wish this game had gotten a M-rating. Now, hear me out. I don't wish they'd up the violent or objectionable content at all, but rather put an M sticker on it for the good of the industry. My reasoning? With all the school violence that has been erupting lately (strangely starting just after the announcement of a teen rating), America's gonna need a scapegoat. Even if there is less school violence after the game comes out, any single incident thereafter will be automatically Bully's fault, like the good little buck-passing Americans we are. While prohibiting the majority of school children from being able to legally own this game may seem pro-censorship, I am vehemently anti-censorship, and I feel this position is reflective of such. If (or rather, when) Bully is blamed for school violence in the near future, an M-rating would allow the industry to say that the game was never meant for school-age children to begin with. Thus, it would be the already under-fire ESRB and enforcement of their ratings that would take the heat. With no such failsafe for it to fall upon, the very artistic liberty of games will be at stake, and a purging unlike anything we've seen in America since the days of McCarthyism will be a chilling possibility.

omegagamer8
omegagamer8

OMG, THE NEXT GTA GAME TO CORRUPT OUR CHILDRENS MINDS WITH THOUGHTLESS VIOLENCE IS....sutible for children 13 & up, EAT IT Jack Thompson

GameBeaten
GameBeaten

You hear that, Jack Thompson? It's rated Teen. So shut up.

the_chojin99
the_chojin99

ooooo i dont know if a teen rateing is a good idea there was an uproar around here when it was anounsed becose it was made by rockstar (whos previous titals include grand theft auto and manhunt) becoses it was said to "be aiming violent games at young people" personaly i would love this game and am getting it as soon as it comes out and its good that i can get it with no mither but il haft to get it quick coz eventualy there will be contraversy like all rockstar games althow i cant see how it can be too bad i meen its set in a school hes not gonna go around killing people like in gta

Thesimsfrk111
Thesimsfrk111

People if it was "Grand Theft Auto" in school and rated "M" Rockstar would be SUED TO DEATH by the government...think of it as a GOOD thing that Rockstar won't be put out of buisness...

ccso151
ccso151

My only hope is that this game was not completely compromised by Rockstar having to dig themselves out of "hot coffee". Not that I was hoping that the game would be littered with violence and cursing, but I can help but feel that the game has been way watered down from the original concept. I guess we will see.....

Dreamsofthesoul
Dreamsofthesoul

personally, if this game was rated M for violence and blood reasons, the game would become so completely unrealistic that they might as well name the game "Grand Kill Educational" and would ruin the point of doing anything beyond GTA games, which i do belive Rockstar is capable of. Because Rockstar is aiming to make this game seem like a reform school, people wouldnt die in massive amounts of blood because you had a bad day at work and decided to vent your anger at a simulation that lets you kill students. BUT if it was rated M for heavy uses of drugs, alchohol, and sex, it would seem VERY much like the way school is. BYAAAAH!!!

HeavyMG
HeavyMG

in a way doesn't this mean thompson won? take-two and rockstar probably watered down the game so they could appease everyone. so....this possibly is a loss for freedom. but maybe not. i'm still excited about this game. and now i don't have to pull any strings to get it.

-Murdock-
-Murdock-

I'm curious what they had to remove from the game or change to drop it down to a Teen rating. Anyone know?

The_Weekend
The_Weekend

is that supposed to be a good thing or a bad thing?

StEaKAsSaSsIn
StEaKAsSaSsIn

That's awesome : D I am mildly surprised about it hough, but really who thinks that your gonna go on a freaking killing spree as a 15 year old anyways? The game is just for me to live school outside of school...how exciting and "dangerous" that is eh?

hawk-hunter
hawk-hunter

Jack Thompson just got served! What are you going to do now Mr. "Big Shot" attorney. Go get a life.

wenbin09
wenbin09

gosh.. i think the game's a funny storyline~

Mr_Saturn26
Mr_Saturn26

u know what would be really stupid to for jack thompson to mention that would be really hillarious. Jack:" I have proof that video games causes violence, I sent the flight sim. to Bin Laden" Yes stupid, but effective, and a whole crowd goes over to and beats him to a pulp, now stupid yes, funny yes, Do we wish it was true right now, HECK YES!, would JACK go to a fed prison HECK YA !!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sam_Lowery
Sam_Lowery

lol, I hope Jack Thompson wasted a lot of time on a game that ended up with a T rating.

MasterAsh42
MasterAsh42

Rated T, for "tongue in cheek. . ." I didn't think this game would be excessively wild. Since the first announcement of its premise, I've been expecting something more in the vein of a culturally-relevant Monty-Python style of violence, not the Manhunt-on-campus fare watchdogs were waiting to hate. I'm really interested in how this analyst seems to convey Rockstar toned the game down in lieu of last year's controversies. I wager the game was planned to be this "T for 'tame'" from the get-go.

Ariolander
Ariolander

Heh... this whole mess about this "Bully" is laughable.

iamsouledge
iamsouledge

Mehehehe. GI readers guessed it first. :)

rokkuman09
rokkuman09

Critics jumped on the game and called it a "columbine simulator"....some people have no lives....

aarow82
aarow82

Only on ps2? That's the most ridiculous thing i've heard for a while. Why not on xbox and pc? Are take-two really such sony fanboys they would purposely limit their revenue possibilities?

hhbc1
hhbc1

YAY! Now I can like buy it, not wait a year till im 17

McDog3
McDog3

I'm kind of surprised by the rating to be honest. This should shut some people up considering its only rated 'T'. Then again, Jack Thompson will probably say something like - "The ESRB has let the parents down once again by rating this horrid fitlh T instead of the AO (aka-taken out of stores) rating which I WANTED...", Too bad you don't always get what you want Jackie Boy......

Tremblay343
Tremblay343

Well now people think. How many of you actually go to middle school still. How many of you will go around beating up kids for playing this game. a Huge percentage of the gamer market is in like the late 20's or something like that. Now i am 15, and i have played games ranging from manhunt to paper mario. And in no way do i have the urge to beat people up, or shoot them or whatever. And i have been bullied in elementry school before. everyone has. Or at least in some form they have. But im sure if i were to play this game, i would not break down and cry. Being bullied isn;t that traumitizing. I mean yes there are extreme cases like columbine. But kids who are usually bullied are timid smaller kids. Now I doubt unless the kids do something completely and utterly cruel to this kid everyday, hes not going to bring a bat into school just for playing this game. Again people are worrying over nothing. I will be playing this game as a rental at some point in the near future, and i don't think it will make me a complete loser coughkavadiascough just for trying it out. I mean i'd like to see if all of these freak outs of kids chanting "bananas" in the streets is justified. I am still open for jugement of course, and if its truely sick, i'll of cousre join the "this game is a disgrace to the industry" bandwagon. So people please, stop freaking out over nothing, i mean it is just a game after all.

sushi-chef
sushi-chef

I guess Jack Thomsons owes some people apologies.

kavadias1981
kavadias1981

There are hundreds of quality titles out there by genius designers. If you buy this excuse for entertainment then you are a complete loser.

_Sam_
_Sam_

I won't be getting this. I'm not interested in it

someguy503
someguy503

Never judge a book by its cover..or publisher

shasam712
shasam712

I don't have high expectations for Bully, but it is good that some of the controversy may be quelled with this new rating.

supercrap1
supercrap1

A T-rating is a great way for this game to get revenge on those that judged it before they even saw it. Looking forward to playing it.

someguy503
someguy503

This is what people get for judging things before triying them out...stupid people

blueflamedino
blueflamedino

a Columbine simulator!! WTF!! Last time I saw Bully, there were no guns and nobody dies. The only thing that is close is maybe the creation of M80's (a.k.a. cherry bombs), but seriously, M80's has been around even before the Columbine incident, so what is the media's problem, that lousy parents can't teach kids that everything they is not always legal.

ivan_the_one
ivan_the_one

hmmmm.... I hope they didn' t have ot edit anything....

kamicolo
kamicolo

It's a way for those who're bullied to exact revenge in a game. Down to all bullies...check out "The Benchwarmers" movie

Andron666
Andron666

People just judged this game on it's title and Rockstars reputation. It's all media hype not amounting to much. You can't take people not knowing what they are talking about seriously.

niceguy10
niceguy10

now look I play m rated games but I make sure I don't play for too long so I don't become obsessed. I think as long as you just limit your time then the bully would be a pretty fun game just as long as you don't take it too seriously.

metdevthegamer
metdevthegamer

I hope you're not talking about my post warrioremperor, because in no way was I trying to smash Take-Two or Rockstar, only comparing names.

warrioremperor
warrioremperor

the fact is they are trying to smash Take-Two and Rockstar, because they don't want any company to take over in a certain field, with the success of GTA and so. Who are "they"? well as far as i know, THEY are the ones that are trying to play the nice and kids-loving people (check out the 4-5 previous posts)