Teachers around the world, including B.C., are banding together to ban the game Bully: Scholarship Edition from stores.
According to Irene Lanzinger of the B.C. Teachers’ Federation, “Instead of ridding the schoolyard of bullies as the promotional materials claim, this video trivializes vicious bullying. It stereotypes female students as either sex-pot cheerleaders or overweight losers.”
Emily Noble was equally outraged: “With bullying and school violence high on the agenda of public concerns, teachers and parents increasingly question the impact of violent interactive media on children’s growing minds and bodies. The proliferation of cyberbullying via cell phones, the Internet, and blogs, means that victims can now be bullied anywhere with devastating consequences for the victims.”
To listen to the teachers’ federation, Rockstar Vancouver invented bullying, then made it fashionable to use the latest technology to belittle your peers.
Like the first round of outrage about the original Bully game, all these recent statements are just more ado about nothing. It shows how little the authorities understand about video games and gamers, which serve as a convenient scapegoat for all the social ills affecting kids and teens in the world today, from obesity to drug use to violence.
But for all the posturing, I don’t think anyone in the federation has actually played the game, as I have, or has enough experience with games to put Bully in the proper context.
Bullying is cowardly. Bullying is sick. Bullying makes life a living hell for children around the world. Little bullies grow up to be big bullies, and the worst members of our society. Kids who were bullied often develop serious mental problems, and in rare cases will fight back with tragic results.
I get it. But for as long as we’ve packed classrooms full of underdeveloped brains, and students of different sizes, maturity levels and social statures, there has been bullying. Bully is not responsible, it’s merely representative.
It’s interesting that the teachers would key in on this one game, set at a New England private school called Bullworth Academy, when there are so many truly violent games on the market. Bully has a few fist fights, some minor rule breaking, a little romance and that’s about it.
In Halo 3, the goal in several online modes is to kill as many members of the opposite team as possible within a time limit. In Grand Theft Auto, you deal drugs, steal cars, rip around city streets like a maniac in your stolen vehicles, produce porn, pimp prostitutes, tangle with crooked cops, join gangs, and rack up a body count in the thousands. Manhunt has you breaking out of prison, suffocating people with plastic bags, and using a variety of household items to cause pain and death.