Mar 5, 2008

Teachers want bullying game pulled from stores

It's quite rare that I sit on the fence on any given issue, but this one has me scared right up off the grass.

On one hand, you've got the entire video game censorship debate, which I'm a bit more conservative on than the majority of the industry. I don't think any game should be banned outright - (not even the US Army-funded titles advocating para-military invasions of Venezuela) but I do sympathise with those calling for a more strictly regulated, movie-industry-esque rating system.

I didn't defend the ability in Rockstar's more violent series, (Grand Theft Auto) to pick up a street worker, enjoy her services, carve her up with a chainsaw, and then take all the money from her carcass. In no way did I ever consider that an "artistic expression," and in my view, that game should have been regulated far out of the reach of under-agers.

The main reason I've yet to take a position on Bully, is because quite frankly, I haven't played it. But in light of the new controversy, stemming from a sector I have a good deal of patience for, I fully intend to grab a copy today, and reserve comment until I've completed it.

Until then, here's an article that appeared in the Province this morning.


By Clare Ogilvie, The Province

Published: Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Canadian teachers are adding their voices to four million educators globally to try to stop stores from selling an updated teen video game that was rereleased Tuesday.

Bully: Scholarship Edition, produced by Vancouver-based Rockstar Games, pits a 15-year-old student against other students and teachers.

"The concern is that it is glorifying violence, [that] it is glorifying bullying," Emily Noble, president of the Canadian Teachers Federation, said yesterday. "It is a story about a young lad who goes to school and his way of dealing with situations is to bully others."

Noble believes this is the first time teachers have banded together in this way to fight a video game. That's partly because the game is produced in Canada and because the game is set in a school, she said.

When asked why the CTF would take a stand against a game in which no one dies, there is no blood and guts and in which the bully gets as good as he gives, Noble said: "I think people are standing up and speaking out and saying what was acceptable a little while ago is not acceptable anymore."

The game's creator, Sam Houser, said in a press release: "It's really difficult to make a compelling comedy action game about anything, let alone about the experience of being at high school, and we think we achieved something unique with Bully."

At the University of B.C., curriculum studies associate professor Don Krug said trying to get stores to stop selling the video is just a quick fix. It's also likely, he added, that removing it from circulation would simply make it more attractive to kids.

Instead, suggested Krug, caregivers, educators and others should use the game-playing experience to talk about the behaviour. "It is not going to go away," he said.

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