Bully to blacken Rockstar's other eye?

Upcoming game could provide what critics of Take-Two are looking for--a knockout punch designed to push the publisher up against the ropes.


In the beginning, there was Hot Coffee. And it was hot.

The Hot Coffee fuss surrounded a dormant piece of hot-to-trot game code that was able to be unlocked on all versions of the best-selling, M-rated Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. That small gift to gamers put Take-Two in hot water with the industry's voluntary ratings board, the ESRB. Last month, the board revoked the game's M rating, rerated the product AO, and forced the game's parent company to pull existing copies (or supply retailers with AO stickers) and manufacture new game discs with the mod-induced sex games deleted.

Of course, stores could still sell the newly rated game, but few did, given long-standing policies of most major retailers not carrying AO-rated games.

Cost of the Hot Coffee episode? $40-50 million for Take-Two. Ditto that amount for the industry.

There are a few recent developments in the ongoing saga of Take-Two and its portfolio of M-rated products (although it's worth mentioning, this is a company that sells more than just M-rated games...Global Star Software, a publishing label of Take-Two publishes the E-rated Leaping Lizards!, among other games rated for all ages).

A day after one Florence Cohen dropped docs on the game publisher in US District Court, a second consumer did the same. Both complaints seek to establish a class of plaintiffs that charge Take-Two with a number of malevolent acts, including Consumer Deception, False Advertising, and Common Law Fraud (all based on New York State General Business Law statutes).

And the plot thickens. The company's upcoming game, Bully, has entered the overarching Take-Two narrative, now in the following two instances.

The first is from a statement by the Britain-based Bullying Online, an organization devoted to ending all forms of "bullying" on school grounds in the UK. Reportedly, that group is seeking a ban of the title on its home turf.

"This game should be banned," the organization's Liz Carnell has said. "I'm extremely worried that kids will play it and then act out what they've seen in the classroom.... Bullying is not a game by any stretch of the imagination. We have around four suicidal children contacting us every day."

Rockstar Games describes the upcoming title as one where gamers play as a "troublesome schoolboy" who "stands up to bullies, gets picked on by teachers, plays pranks on malicious kids, wins or loses the girl, and ultimately learns to navigate the obstacles of the fictitious reform school."

Closer to home, Florida attorney Jack Thompson, an active campaigner who has in the past targeted aggressive e-mail campaigns at politicians and company officers he hopes to influence, is himself mounting an effort against the game--specifically, against certain game retailers as well as the game's publisher.

"A check of Internet web sites today reveals that Wal-Mart, GameStop, ToysRUs, and Amazon.com are all presently pre-selling the game with no questions asked as to age of the buyers," Thompson said in a statement.

Bully is currently unrated, but based on previews, most industry sources expect it to ship with an M rating, meaning it should be sold only to those 17 and older.

In another statement, Thompson asks Take-Two president Paul Eibeler to reconsider the game's upcoming release. "I and others are today calling upon you to stop the release of Bully," the statement, in part, read.

Also contained in the statement from Thompson is a reference to a demonstration slated to take place tomorrow in lower Manhattan, outside the corporate headquarters of Take-Two Interactive. According to Thompson, two busloads of Washington, DC schoolchildren will protest the game's release, though it was not clear what organization was promoting or funding the demonstration.

Just as Hot Coffee cools down, another bully, it seems, lurks in the corners.

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Avatar image for Merranvo

Sigh, why are most gamers... uneducated? Parents protest the game because they can NOT control their child's exposure to the game. In addition, BEFORE videogames were invented we had Domestic Violence for family entertainment... although not every child became violent as an adult; it was significantly higher than those who came from dotting families. Essentially, if the kid wants it, the kid will get it. As well as Videogames CAN _influence_ behavior, especially teens and children. As far as gamers being uneducated, it seems that all you can do is moan and groan about how it's unfair that people are taking a stand against virtual violence WHICH WOULD NOT AFFECT YOU if you were "of age". In fact, the majority of the arguments presented in defense can be considered rubbish as, well, the people use psuedologic in support. Violence is a GLOBAL wrong, you can't say "It's not okay to beat up other kids, except that Bobby cause I don't like his dad" and expect the child to only attack Bobby; just as you can't expect a child who starts to fight back to stop there. Unless a behavior is clearly wrong or clearly right it will only confusion to a child. A teen, on the other hand, might beable to judge if a behavior is right or wrong, but they have to determine that for themselves. (In addition, technically the game would only worsen a child who is being bullied because it will confirm their idea that bullying is "normal".) W/E

Avatar image for sooner09

everyone who demonizes video games especially Laura Bush needs to stop this bulls*** and stop telling us gamers or people who play video games what we should be doing and quit being communists about this issue! Im 17 and i could buy M rated games legally but they need to keep the rules the way it is instead of pushing the envelope further. Gamestop and Wal-Mart and other places- they are not the parents. the parents need to raise there kids. It's there F***ing responsibility.

Avatar image for sooner09

That is bulls#%*!!!!!!!! This game is doing nothing wrong. People need to stand up to their bullies instead of hiding. The cancellation of this release will not make the bullies go away. What kind of a dumbass idea is that?!!

Avatar image for Cloud737

Good point, OtterX (and Mush_Mouth). Now I really hate when people get overly hysterical about something in a game. Let`s see how stupid the protesters were, now that Bully was released. "I'm extremely worried that kids will play it and then act out what they've seen in the classroom..." Oh no! If bullied children start to stand up to bullies and be more courageous, it`ll be an outcry in the UK!! Schools might just get more safer!!! The Apocalypse is coming!!! Geez, ban a game without even seeing it first. How right is that? "According to Thompson, two busloads of Washington, DC schoolchildren will protest the game's release" Uh huh. So, where were the kids then? Don`t tell me JT just overly boasted again.

Avatar image for Mush_Mouth

LOL oops - sorry OtterX, I didn't read any of the posts before I added my comment. I find it funny that we apparently like the phrase "last (time) I checked..." :-)

Avatar image for Mush_Mouth

haha - Thompson complains about the internet stores selling it without asking the age of the buyers...last time I checked, minimum age to get a credit card is 18, which is obviously OVER the buying age of 17 for M rated games. **cking retard People like him are the reason I moved out of FL.

Avatar image for iMuffins

OtterX, I totally agree with what you said. Same with your comment, Mattmcconell. People should just stop ****ing about violent video games. I mean, they're RATED M! That should be a clue as to who should be playing them. I play violent games every day, and I don't belive that it has affected me in any way, even though I am not the appropriate ago to play them

Avatar image for 66550

Thats exactly what i said OtterX

Avatar image for OtterX

"A check of Internet web sites today reveals that Wal-Mart, GameStop, ToysRUs, and Amazon.com are all presently pre-selling the game with no questions asked as to age of the buyers," Thompson said in a statement. Last I checked, you have to be 18 to own a credit card.... and isn't credit card the standard currency for online orders?

Avatar image for gralea

LOL I love how they are making little kids protest the game, betcha five bucks all those pint-size protestors will have a copy before the year is out..

Avatar image for Mattmcconnell

first post :) I think people should just shut the heck up about "oh this game's too violent blah blah blah, wah wah wah" if you dont like the game, DONT BUY IT. simple as that.