Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The Bully Saga

I've been watching carefully the development and impending release of the video game Bully from Rockstar Games. For those unfamiliar, Rockstar is the game studio behind the highly controversial Grand Theft Auto series, and Bully is set to transfer some of the game mechanics of that title to the setting of private school, where the main character fights to get back at bullying students and teachers.

Given Rockstar's reputation, many child welfare groups and government representatives, predictably including reactionary media litigator Jack Thomspon, came out against the game very early on. Thomspon refers to the game as a "Columbine simulator." Keep in mind: this is a game that nobody outside of Rockstar has yet played! These groups object categorically to a game that features violence by or against children, regardless of the nuances of its rules and story.

The game was supposed to be released quite a while ago, but is finally slated to street in October. The reason for the delay is a point of much speculation: was it Rockstar waiting for the angry interest groups to cool down, or were they retooling the game to make it more palatable to the public, or was it simply a result of the usual game development morass?

The latest news has Rockstar changing the name of the game from Bully to Canis Canem Edit, latin for "dog eat dog," and the motto of the fictional Bullworth Academy where the game is set. I'll believe the news when I see the game on the shelves, but again industry watchers are speculating: are they changing the name to deflect the bad press?

I'll be following developments in this messy saga as the release date of the game approaches, and will share my impressions of the game when I finally get to play it.


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