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Your World. Your Stories. Everyday.


Your World. Your Stories. Everyday.


The unexpected positivity of ‘Bully’

Isa Peters
Bully’s reputation is far from perfect but it is a staple in many Gen-Z and Millennial lives.

Rockstar Games is infamous for games such as GTA or Manhunt (both of which have been banned or censored by multiple countries) and in 2006, they came out with another addition to their controversial games: Bully. This open-world single-player game follows the story of outcast delinquent Jimmy Hopkins who is forced to go to a boarding school and try to get better. He meets Gary, who declares his plan to try and unite all the school’s cliques, but Jimmy does not know that Gary plans to take him down as well. Bully has been banned and criticised but it is a misunderstood game that deserves a dedicated fanbase. 

In April 2008, the Brazilian government banned the game because they believed it could harm teenagers and young adults. The United Kingdom changed the name from ‘Bully’ to ‘Canis Canem Edit’ meaning ‘Dog eat dog’ It was too graphic of a game for 2008, and its violent and sexual nature made it a target for adults to put all their worries on. When you play the game, you can tell the violent graphics and the disgusting sexual nature are to blame. 

The video game with terrible 2000 PlayStation graphics

I mean look at this screencap of the game! Just terrible!

However, it does raise a good question if what we see on a screen can affect our real lives, which to an extent it can. You see cats drinking milk because of cartoons or people scared of sharks because of Jaws and yes, there have been times when internet games or stories inspired people. The Slenderman case is probably the most infamous for this situation happening but when it comes to games such as Bully or GTA, it’s hard to find definitive cases. 

The Michigan Youth Violence Protection Center states that “Although playing violent video games may not necessarily determine violent or aggressive behavior, it may increase precursors to violent behavior.” But generally, bullying and violence can be more than a video game issue,  usually starting in their own home with guardian figures and video games being used to express that anger. They may play a minor role in it, but it is the parents’ and guardians’ responsibility to see what their children are playing and how they raise them around video games and the internet. 

The game starts with Jimmy being taunted by bullies and your options are either to fight back or report them to the principal with most players usually choosing the first option. It makes the game more exciting and gives Jimmy some lore. Throughout the game, you are tasked with quests to fulfill and to better your reputation with the cliques. Starting with helping the nerds and ending with the Jocks, the most powerful. Jimmy is not a terrible character, he just is doing what he sees as right for the school. Which occasionally does involve mischief or violence but it helps in the end. 

This is not me advocating for more violent video games or saying violence is the answer in these situations, but you can not blame a 2006 game that just so happens to be about bullying or any semi-violent video game on the behavior children and teenagers exhibit. ABC12 News interviewed the Boys and Girls Club of America in September of 2023 who said bullying is on the rise in schools, “According to the organization’s 2023 ‘Youth Right Now’ survey, 40 percent of students report that they were bullied on school property. Of the 40 percent who were bullied, 55 percent never told an adult about it.”

The University of Georgia did a study on bullying in middle and high schools and it showed that 54% of high schoolers and 43% of middle schoolers have seen adults watch bullying happen and do nothing to intervene. This does not happen in the game, something the video game does better than the real world. If you bully a kid, in any way that the game provides, in front of an authority figure, you are reprimanded and sent to the principal’s or worse, have to mow the lawn. 

At the end of the game, you have to fight Gary on the rooftop one final time to set balance in Bullworth Academy. You both are caught but Gary is expelled and never to be seen again. In contrast, Jimmy gets with the girl he’s wanted throughout the game. It’s a happy ending for this weird mid-2000s game. 

Bully is a cultural staple when it comes to controversial games but unlike games such as GTA or even Mortal Kombat, it at least has some type of good moral to spread. We as students and teachers could even possibly learn a thing or two, besides the in-game cafeteria hygiene- we do not need to replicate that.  

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About the Contributor
Isa Peters
Isa is a sophomore, a Perspectives reporter, and on the Black and Gold podcast. She is excited for her first year on the Journalism team! When she’s in the podcast room you can see all the ideas flowing out of her head and simply just enjoying being with friends. She is a passionate artist, music lover (specifically K-pop), and avid movie critic on Letterboxd. When not in the podcast room she’s on the sidelines cheering with the Varsity Dance Team or in her room reading about Jo March’s adventures.

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    emApr 12, 2024 at 6:48 pm