After Hours

Anti-video game attorney picks on "Bully"


Before I became a news editor for TechRepublic, I wasn't always so nice. In elementary school, I picked on the people who I liked the most (ok, I still do that), and I was quick to stand up for myself regardless of the situation or circumstances (uhm, yeaaah...). Some people might have considered me to be a bully, and perhaps there's a hint of truth in that, although I contribute part of that to the third child syndrome - that, and having an older brother who was very close in age and incredibly competitive.

So, with my former reputation being what it is, I was compelled to click through and read the story about a video game called "Bully" that a Florida judge wanted to review before it was released to make sure it didn't violate public nuisance laws.

If you don't have time to read the entire story, here are the important details: An anti-video game attorney named Jack Thompson (no relation, I swear) filed a motion against the release of the game. "Thompson's lawsuit likens 'Bully' to a 'murder simulator,' alleging it will teach minors about methods of bullying and school violence. He asks the court to declare the game a 'public nuisance.'"

Take-Two, the maker of "Bully," doesn't advertise the game as being violent. "...its Web page for 'Bully' says that players will be able to 'stand up to bullies, get picked on by teachers, play pranks, win or lose the girl, and ultimately learn to navigate the obstacles of the worst school around, Bullworth Academy--a corrupt and crumbling prep school with an uptight facade.'"

Check out the photo gallery: "Bully" in action.

Good gravy, this Thompson guy needs a hobby. If video games are stressing him out that much, he should take up model cars or airplanes. Seriously. With all of the graphic violence, sexual content, and adult language within video games these days, my suggestion to people with more innocent sensibilities is to stay clear of them, because no one is forcing them to play.

 

About

Sonja Thompson has worked for TechRepublic since October of 1999. She is currently a Senior Editor and the host of the Smartphones and Tablets blogs.

9 comments
Tink!
Tink!

[b]IF[/b] the game violates a law already in place, then fine, the judge should rule against the game. However, Thompson's argument that it will teach kids to bully is all "hype". I believe that some children may take their games and apply their "learned knowledge" to real life. These children however, are in the minority. They often are unsupervised or have very little "life education" from their parents. Children are be exposed to violence and real-life parallels all the time. On TV programs, news, movies, internet etc. HOW they absorb and process this exposure depends largely on how the parents teach them to respond to it. If you teach your children that what they see is wrong and should not be copied in real life, and explain WHY certain things are wrong, they are very much less likely to do act out what they see. To base bans or outlaw games on these minority children is unfair. It is also unfair to blame the game developers or marketers as often is the case. Parents these days have become very lazy and shift responsibility to others rather than step up and teach their children the true meanings of life.

maecuff
maecuff

Beavis and Butthead. When they cut out Beavis saying "fire" because some little kid burned his family's trailer down after watching it. It's ridiculous to blame the show.

tanzerguy
tanzerguy

Of course, let's go pick on a video game. It's a lot easier than stopping real bullying - of which I can say I was a victim. The harm real bullying does will infinitely outstrip any harm this game ever does. But then you have to chase down millions of bullies and their parents, and get chump change each time, so why bother? Better to go hit one big rich vicim and be done with it. If you did sue the parents of the bullies, you might actually force them to take some responsibility for their demented loutish offspring; but Mr. Thompson isn't interested in doing any real work to foce positive societal change. That's too much work for the easy money and cheap publicity he craves. This grandstanding clown Thompson - what, he can't go find an ambulance to chase? Is that too much work, too?

Johnny Bee
Johnny Bee

I got into "gaming" back when Hack (DOS) was the in thing, so I've seen the evolution of the video game world first hand - as have many. I must admit that I am on the fence when it comes to throwing the blame at the games for creating the irreverant, self-absorbed, sometimes violent people (note that I do not pick on the teens only) that seem to have become more prevalent today. However, I do believe that the games do contribute to some delinquent behaviour simply because the players may not ever have "learned" that fighting, shooting, and other forms of destruction can be fun, on some darker level of our psyche. I wonder if the instant gratification features of some games - they all revolve around rewards for actions taken in the game - and the inherent frustration some of them instill in us until we achieve the level of "Uber-god" doesn't play some role. Not to mention the inability of many people today to exercise patience when dealing with other "real" people. Why do we need to play games that simulate murder, or other criminal activities? When one seriously considers the reason for playing such games, one has to question what is going on in their head. Case in point; without naming any games or companies; during a conversation with a friend over his newest game I learned things about side-stepping law enforcement that I would never have considered before. He was actually proud of his "death-count" when it came to how many law enforcement officers he had killed in the game. Although not a prude, I was genuinely shocked at his cavalier attitude about it. Granted these are "only games" but have you ever really listened to someone who is so into these games that you get uneasy just listening to them? If the question of whether that type of person "has a life" or not pops into your head, then you are talking to one. Now, picture your son, daughter, niece, whatever, telling you the same story with the same fervor and tell me that you would not be concerned. I agree that the more sensible of us need to choose what games are played by our children and ourselves, for that matter. But sometimes, you don't realize how off-centre a game is until you actually start playing it. We need to better inform people about the content in these games because the alternative, banning them, is something I am against for other reasons (revolving artistic license, and freedom of speech, etc.). We must also consider the genre of game classed as a simulator. Military and other similar groups use simulators to train their people to think in a certain way and to respond in kind. This "Bully" is a form of simulation in that it requires the user to apply techniques to a specific situation of violence and corruption to "train" the player to respond in kind. Brainwashing hype aside, we retain some of that attitude and learned behaviour long after we have finished playing. Ofttimes it gets applied to the real world around us. Watch kids playing Power Rangers, or Super Heroes. It usually degenerates into a comical martial arts display resulting in at least hurt feelings, at worst personal injury. We sluff it off as kids being kids, but would they be such kids if they hadn't gotten the idea from the TV they watch or the video games they play? Just something to think about.

tadair
tadair

If the game violates any existing law (statute, ordinance, etc.) then it should be treated accordingly. If you disagree with the laws, then change them. But existing laws must be enforced - that's why they're there. And it has been shown repeatedly that violent games have a direct impact on the behavior of those who play them. Just something to consider...

---TK---
---TK---

If people think they can censor me that is where they are seriously wrong! If I don't like a song on the radio, guess what, I change the channel, why because I can choose what I listen to on my own. Nobody has the right to tell me what I can and cant do, when I have proven that I am more than capable of making the decision on my own! "it has been shown repeatedly that violent games have a direct impact on the behavior of those who play them." Its also known that their statistics are one sided... Let me choose 100 people to take the survey and I bet anyone 100 bucks that says I get the direct opposite outcome!

n.gurr
n.gurr

"According to federal crime statistics, the rate of juvenile violent crime in the United States is at a 30-year low. Researchers find that people serving time for violent crimes typically consume less media before committing their crimes than the average person in the general population." http://www.pbs.org/kcts/videogamerevolution/i mpact/myths.html If behaviour really was linked to violence then youth violence would be affected due to the prevalence of youth game playing. This really is a myth caused by bad science and the willingness to blame sensational media stories on something that some more prudish people feel is wrong. Jack Thompson just thinks that this will eventually get him into congress I think. Mind you has he not just lost his legal license due to general dodgyness? http://kotaku.com/5054772/jack-thompson- disbarred

daedalus2134
daedalus2134

I must disagree with you, from experience, firstly and foremost, I've played violent videogames for a large portion of my life, secondly I believe that the environment has a huge effect on the person who's playing the game, if your parents didn't bring you up responsibly than yes there could be a behavioral connection. I myself have never lashed out at or shot at or even really done anything violent to anyone, because i understand the difference between a jumble of pixels and computer code and reality. i believe that if parents teach their kids the difference between a game and reality then the shootings and violence will be greatly curbed

mike_parr
mike_parr

I agree, laws are there to be upheld, regardless, however, misusing a law through 'interpretation' is wrong, this is why the PC lobby is so messed up. as for the impact of computer games...seems we're all doomed, show me a violent movie and I'm gonna rush out and do some damage, show me an advert and I'll instantly need to buy the product (I've got a cupboard full of tampons cos they'll keep me fresh, dry and help me play sports - and I'm a guy!) give me my old copy of Leisure suit larry and I'll instantly go out sleazing my way around bars......(nothing new there then) Life is full of experiences that affect the way we interact with people as a result, are we all really that susceptible to outside influences that we will radically change our persona, personally I think not, but hey, could be a cultural thing.

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