Rockstar Vancouver’s Bully to finally be released

Rockstar is the video game company behind the controversial video game series Grand Theft Auto that’s got American politicians up in arms about censoring video games due to violent and sexual content. How crazy did you think they went when with the rise of school yard violence Rockstar announced the first game out of their Vancouver studio would be called Bully and focus on the school yard violence of a young man.

Yup, they went ape-shit.

Shipping this October, about a year after it was originally supposed to come out, the game will most likely be a big hit if the pre-buzz and the trailer up at the top of the post are any indication. The game looks fun, mad fun indeed, and will most likely end up in my collection of XBox 360 games. The question is how many piece of ID are you going to have to show to buy it, and how annoying are the parents groups going to be protesting the game before it’s even been released and is playable by the public.

It’s nice to see a Vancouver made game getting this sort of attention, even if it’s not all good. The fact that it looks like a demented version of Wes Anderson’s Rushmore movie just makes it all the more better. More better indeed.

Chris Kohler who blogs at the Wired News site has a really good take on the game and its controversy [wn]:

As it turns out — I draw on a detailed report at the Rocky Mountain News — the main character in Bully isn’t a diehard troublemaker. He’s a “troubled” kid from a bad family — one of those kids who could go either way. So it’s your choice in the game if you’re going to be good or bad. As the Rocky put it: “the heart of the game is an exploration of the complex social interactions at most high schools.”

Now, of course, in Grand Theft Auto you could decide to be a good guy and make money running a taxi service (after stealing a cab, that is). But nobody did that. Surely all the Bully players will turn to a life of wedgies and Indian burns, right?

Probably. But: is that a bad thing? I certainly don’t think so. First off, the “violence,” if you can really call it that, in Bully is humorous stuff like heads shoved in toilets and whatnot. But even if this can be traumatic to kids in real life, having it in video game form isn’t going to be harmful to them — indeed, letting high- and middle-school kids have a virtual environment in which to act out things that happen to them is a way of dealing with problems, of mastering them.

I was of course bullied in middle school, but a game that let me take the part of a bully and give virtual wedgies to virtual kids would have been more of a cathartic exercise than anything. In fact, that’s exactly what I was doing with every other video game — playing in an environment where I had the power. It takes away from real life problems, it doesn’t make them worse. And it certainly won’t turn kids into killers, as much as Jack Thompson is desperate for this to be so.

1 Comment so far

  1. anon (unregistered) on August 14th, 2006 @ 2:34 pm

    I know somebody who has worked on Bully for Rockstar here in Vancouver, and they painted a picture of an absolutely dreadfull working environment. Management bitching out the workers, and people getting fired or quitting continually throughout the development. It’s coming out a year late, and the dev team is in pretty poor shape.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Rockstar Vancouver was put out of its misery after Bully is shipped.

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