After Hours

Killing is ok, but kissing draws controversy


Just last week I blogged about the controversy surrounding Take-Two Interactive Software's new video game "Bully." An anti-video game attorney, Jack Thompson, filed a lawsuit against the game before it was released. "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.'"

Well, it looks like the game "Bully" has hit the news headlines again, but not because of violent content. According to the recent news article, "'Bully' stars 15-year-old Jimmy Hopkins, who must navigate cliques, fights and young love at his new boarding school, along the way winning brawls, completing missions and plying girls with candy and flowers in exchange for kisses. But Jimmy can also use the same approach with boys. When Jimmy approaches a tall, blond boy with some flowers, the boy replies, 'I'm hot. You're hot. Let's make out.'"   

To tell you the truth, I almost choked on my coffee this morning while reading this. There are people who are going to hate this game and people who are going to love it - and that's just because of the publicity, not because they have or ever intend to play it. I still stand firm in my belief that there should be all kinds of games out there that appeal to all different kinds of people. However, violent and sexual material should be labeled as such, like the Mature ratings for games that currently exist. If you don't like the content, don't play it.

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.

17 comments
ang2006
ang2006

All things considered, it really sounds like a ridiculous game to spend one's time on. Thankfully my kids are too intelligent for this kind of thing.

yobtaf
yobtaf

I'll bet that you trust your kids, don't try to domineer them and treat them as individuals. I found that for my kids this approach worked. They always did he right thing on their own and confided to us. Maybe we just had good kid or maybe it was because we payed attention to them.

ang2006
ang2006

they may not be perfect but I am proud that they do seem to use good sense about such things.

tryten
tryten

But this game is a simulator, not a murder simulator but a high school simulator. It contains all the violence and "drama" that I can remember from my high school days. Gangs, stabbings, shootings, drugs. The real question is why is this only an issue for video games, and why now. Everything that is protested in the game happens around our kids everyday. Will something be done about it? Of course not...because parents dont think that their little angel could be involed in such events. "What my little Jimmy kissing other boys?" or "One of little Jimmy's friends was stabbed today? You must be mistaken." Take a look around, it's in the news everyday. Kids dont get the idea to stab someone from a video game, 99% of the time its their own idea. And it's been going long before video games were around. Honestly, the video game Bully is the least of our worries.

indesign
indesign

Yes, the game may reflect what is happening in high schools today, but that is most apparent in America - which is leading the way, so we're all getting there - and it certainly wasn't always so. Whatever people, and especially children, are constantly exposed to, comes to be normalized. When I was in high school - in Greece - just over 15 years ago, no 15-year-old kid had ever been punched to his death by a bunch of his classmates for being a nerd, nor were there gang rapes during break. Now there's a story like this in the news every other day. But I and my classmates did not grow up in a dark arcade playing Kill Them All, we grew up climbing trees, roller-skating in a rink, chatting and playing hide-and-seek - and the occasional pacman or snoopy-tennis on a little nintendo, in the back of our parents' car for lack of anything better to do while being driven to wherever. So yes, today's video games may be a realistic reflection of today's high schools, but today's high schools are that way in part because of video games, and it's a vicious circle - or rather, a vicious downward spiral that had better be stopped somewhere.

Mippernick
Mippernick

In my day, bully's didn't play video games. They wandered around causing trouble and Invariably their parents didn't care and had no idea where they were. Poor parenting is the cause. Now everyone plays video games, so it's hard to say that the video games are the problem. I can only reason, tho, that practicing killing at the very least numbs a person to it should the opportunity and motivation ever come, fwiw.

ttocsmij
ttocsmij

TryTen is showing his age. We had bullies in our day ... but they were socially and [nearly] physically isolated by the mainstream. In our day, they were relegated to the bus stop so they could work out their problems on each other. Not glamorized or deified or practiced in some game. Oh. But that was the 60's after all; probably way before your time. But they were tame compared to the trash roaming the halls at will today. Another poster has the idea. Separate his children from the violence and bring them up well educated. Presumably this includes some training in what is right and what is wrong; as well as how to recognize and deal with the undesireable elements of society. It is more "telling" to note that this present decline into darkness can be traced almost directly to the year that we removed the Bible from the classroom, introduced Kinsey-style sex education, and subscribed to the pro-choicer's mantra that all adolescents are just little bunnies waiting to get humping so let's start passing out the condems. I did note one ray of light recently in the WSJ. An article pointed out that a recent survey of teens indicated that they are starting to get wise to Planned Parenthood and are [p]reserving their freedom of choice until marriage. I was genuinely impressed to see that development. Perhaps we won't go the way of the "toga" yet, eh?

tronman
tronman

..If only the Christian dogma were at the head of every class again! Yeah, RIGHT. I grew up in Utah, and it pretty much was. OK, it was the book of Mormon, but really the same kinda deal. Christian 'values' permeated everything. And you know what? There were beatings, the occasional gang-rape of a nerd in the shower (of course it was never reported tho), a couple kids had guns, there was cocaine aplenty if you were in the right circles.. But since we weren't allowed to have sex-ed, at least not officially, kids weren't taught about their bodies by god-fearing parents so when they had urges and acted on them, they got pregnant or sick from an STD. My parents and grand parents can tell plenty of 'horror stories' from well before Kinsey's sex ed ever got involved. Parents can get crazy on God just as easy as on drugs or philandering and you know what? It messes up the kids JUST AS BAD!!! This game sounds like it has no interest for me, but then again, I'm not in high school anymore, thank god. Maybe it can help kids see the bad results when they do bad things, if it's set up right, or, god forbid, the parents actually take the time to check out the game WITH their kids. Not hyped on the whole 'if only we brought GOD back into it, everything would be just fine' theory because you know what? The Bible's just as whack as real life! Have you read it? Incest, sodomy, rape, murder, the gang's all here! Ten Commandments, seven deadly sins. You don't need much more than that to form a guidepost for a decent life. Finally, that's what CHURCH is for. Not my tax dollars, which pay for public education.

DannyL
DannyL

More and more parents are in denial about their role in society's warmachine. Sex and death both predate the IT revolution by quite some time. There IS a problem that we are told on a daily basis that there are people, government systems, and (god help us) IT systems/ISPs to take away all responsibility both for our own lives and for providing our kids with codes-to-live-by. The REAL problem, however, is that somewhere along the line everybody seems to want to believe that. The statement "it shouldn't be allowed" shouldn't be allowed! While I personally disagree with posters who have a total-censorship policy per se I do otoh respect the fact that at least they are getting involved. It's too easy to avoid responsibility, and unfortunately it suits certain powers to enciurage that thought-process - it's much easier than crushing dissent. This is entertainment, not to everyone's taste, and, as it happens, not to mine. But see it for what it is and keep talking to your kids. Teach by exmaple rather than by complaint. That never worked and that is nothing new.

elrico-fantastica
elrico-fantastica

i think this game has an 18 rating, all the other rockstar games have done! so any parent who is purchasing an item labelled for people ages 18 and above should be the one getting all this attention not the game! you may as well throw your kids a bottle of Jack Daniels while your at it.

ttocsmij
ttocsmij

both should be banned from children's games. Personal experience with my children and grandchildren demonstrate a corresponding increase in anti-social or inappropriate behavior after lengthy exposure to either violence or the liberal message vis-a-vis sexual preferences in games. The children get it ... too bad the grownups haven't yet.

Dr_Zinj
Dr_Zinj

Playing violent video games gives them the illusion of power. Unfortunately, it doesn't teach them how to deal with others from an inferior position, nor how to deal ethically with others once they have that power. Even if only an illusion, the feeling of power is extremely addictive, so they will continue to push the buttons until forcibly stopped--our job as parents. Children's mind absorb all that violence and sex, it's using the same mechanisms for normal socialization programming, and it does influence their behavior. Many?Most? adults are in a state of denial when it comes to violent computer games and children. They all want to beleive that their child is mature enough to handle it without adverse effect, when in reality, their kids aren't any different than the next ones. HOWEVER, consider the real world violence being experienced by children in Sudan, Iraq, Afganistan, Lebanon, Israel, etc, etc. They are even more socialized to violence than our kids are. So in some manner, violent video games could be preparing them to function in the world with those other violent types. What kind of an ending would Tolkien's Lord of the Rings have had if Gandalf, Elrond, et al. had gone for a win-win scenario with Sauron?

gsquared
gsquared

(Okay, seriously off-topic disclaimer for this one.) Sauron was working on bringing back Melkor Morgauth, whose goal was total domination over all of the world and everyone in it. When your opponent has as his main strategic goal total domination of your life purely for his own aggrandizement, there really isn't a "win-win" scenario. (If you're not sure on this one vis-a-vis Sauron and his goals, please read the Silmarillion, which is the background and mythology on which the Ring Trilogy is based.)

Mippernick
Mippernick

If this is just human nature at work, the video games, like tv, bar hopping and many other hobbies, are just indulging our lusts - for money, power, anger, sex etc. Even in a morally ambilalent world that's not admirable. What if there is some will behind this encouraging if not pushing us down these lustful paths? Be it Rockafellers, Bushs, Clintons, Aliens or satan, we become a tool if we just consent. If we choose to trust in a power (God) or purpose (order) greater than ourselves and limit or deny ourselves what has the appearance of being unhealty, the result is positive. I'm 38 and I have had to get rid of certain games and avoid some tv/movies because of the attitude of anger and lust that they stir in me. No doubt, those desires are already in me, but why encourage them? and if I can see that struggle in myself (which most men ignore) why would I think my children will easily overcome it? Still, I agree the first and most important solution is teaching my kids what is healthy and good, then doing what I can to provide an environment where our innate bad tendancies are not encouraged. Complain about me all you want, but THIS IS RELEVANT, it just took me a while to get to it:) By the way, good job at working aggrandizement into a sentance, gssquared.

esummers
esummers

I have four children, and our household policy has always been that NEITHER sex or violence in any TV show or video games is permissible. As you might well guess, this has severely limited their time with either medium. Gee whiz, this has forced them to read and play sports, and actually talk to their parents. I want to know where this "killing is OK" attitude supposedly came from, because I didn't vote for it!

DannyL
DannyL

More and more parents are in denial about their role in society's warmachine. Sex and death both predate the IT revolution by quite some time. There IS a problem that we are told on a daily basis that there are people, government systems, and (god help us) IT systems/ISPs to take away all responsibility both for our own lives and for providing our kids with codes-to-live-by. The REAL problem, however, is that somewhere along the line everybody seems to want to believe that. The statement "it shouldn't be allowed" shouldn't be allowed! While I personally disagree with posters who have a total-censorship policy per se I do otoh respect the fact that at least they are getting involved. It's too easy to avoid responsibility, and unfortunately it suits certain powers to enciurage that thought-process - it's much easier than crushing dissent. This is entertainment, not to everyone's taste, and, as it happens, not to mine. But see it for what it is and keep talking to your kids. Teach by exmaple rather than by complaint. That never worked and that is nothing new.

JohnOfStony
JohnOfStony

I have always considered society's attitudes to sex as compared to its attitude to violence to be a sad indictment of the current so-called civilisation. We feed our kids with news, movies and games involving serious violence including death and this is considered acceptable, but watching a couple making love is considered disgusting, perverted and generally unacceptable. Why??? The only viable answer I can think of is that those in power want control by suppressing the sexual/loving instinct - what would happen to the arms industry if we were all friends with other nations? - and encouraging the aggressive instinct so that they can build armies to enhance their own power. This is very true in both the political and religious spheres. Another amazing statement by those pushing violence is that what people watch on TV (or other screens) doesn't affect behaviour. If not, why do businesses spend millions on advertising? It's not sex that's perverted, it's those in power who are.

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