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Taking Bully Seriously? 69

Posted by Zonk
from the better-than-ezra dept.
simoniker writes "There's been plenty of controversy about Rockstar's PS2 title Bully, but does it actually have anything to teach players? Ian Bogost looks into whether the game actually has a social message, explaining: 'Taking Bully seriously means acknowledging that the game has something to say about the world, not just that the world has something to say about it. It means assessing how effectively the game tackles the topic of bullying and how meaningful its claims about it are.' His conclusion? 'Sweeping away all the dust that Bully left in the wake of its release, it's hard to defend the game, not because it might be a pubic nuisance or a danger to kids, but because it could have been so much more of a scathing critique of high school social politics than it turned out to be.'"
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Taking Bully Seriously?

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  • Scathing Critique? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by denebian devil (944045) on Thursday November 02, 2006 @05:28PM (#16696039)
    I don't know about the rest of you, but when I play a video game, I don't want a "scathing critique of high school social politics," or anything else for that matter. I want something that entertains and engages me. Whatever happened to fun for fun's sake?!?
    • Who grinds on WoW because it's fun? We do it because we don't want to do REAL work!
    • by OakDragon (885217)
      Agreed. How about a game where I scream "NERDS!" and kick them in the shins? Now that's lawsuit bait!
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by KiahZero (610862)
      It's the gaming equivalent of literary criticism. In other words, the author is analyzing this as art. "Fun for fun's sake" isn't sufficient to make a truly artistic game, just like it's not enough to turn your typical trashy romance novel into a work of art.
      • by Magada (741361)
        Ok, here's MY scathing critique: Editors should be able to distinguish between PUBIC nuisances and PUBLIC nuisances. Perhaps the years of scratching their collective PUBES in PUBLIC -and thus establishing themselves as PUBLIC PUBIC nuisances- have dulled that ability.
    • by geekster (87252)
      I don't have a single preference for playing games. I'm all for playing a game "for fun's sake". But at the same time I don't mind playing a game, or more likely, watching a movie with some social critique. To sum it up, it's not all or nothing. I'm getting kinda tired of his attitude.
    • by Flentil (765056)
      Ideally, we could have both. A game that is fun to play and also leaves a lasting impression with it's message. Why would anyone be against that? It would go over the heads of those who don't care, but they would still have fun.
    • by aafiske (243836)
      South Park, the Simpsons, etc. are entertaining to watch and make meaningful social commentary. Why does saying 'you know, sometimes extra levels of meaning can make a thing more enjoyable' encounter such resistance?
      • Why does saying 'you know, sometimes extra levels of meaning can make a thing more enjoyable' encounter such resistance?

        Nothing. Assuming that's the message of Bully. But what the article really is saying is "don't think of Bully as a vulgar fighting game, there's more to it than that. Really!" My opinion is that in games, there doesn't *need* to be more to it than that. If you want to add subtext and nuance, that's your prerogative. If all you want to do is make something that's entertaining, that's okay t

    • "I don't know about the rest of you, but when I play a video game, I don't want a "scathing critique of high school social politics," or anything else for that matter. I want something that entertains and engages me. Whatever happened to fun for fun's sake?!?"

      Do you watch South Park?
    • I don't want a "scathing critique of high school social politics," or anything else for that matter.

      Well, then we're in disagreement. Every now and then, an article comes around on slashdot about whether or not games can be considered art. Well, when game developers will actually use the medium to make political or social comments, critiques, and social change, that's when gaming will be an art form. Until then, just running your video game character around town and picking random fights for points is just
      • by Khuffie (818093)
        The Mona Lisa provides political or social comments, critiques or social change? Who knew!
        • In case you haven't been around for the past 70 years, the meaning of art has kinda [wikipedia.org] changed [wikipedia.org] a bit [wikipedia.org] since the Mona Lisa. Pretty pictures just don't cut it as much for artistic credibility anymore.
          • by Khuffie (818093)
            Oh, I have. I just don't think a urinal or splashing paint on a canvas are art. I do respect that other people can consider it to be art. And I don't believe art has to have some sort of social or political agenda to be considered art.
      • by ultranova (717540)

        Well, when game developers will actually use the medium to make political or social comments, critiques, and social change, that's when gaming will be an art form.

        Done [emogame.com].

        Altought I still can't quite say if it is a parody or particularly inept propaganda...

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MrHanky (141717)
      Ah, Slashdot at its finest: +5, insightful for a comment that basically states that it only wants mindless entertainment.

      Meanwhile, back in the real world, we have games being attacked by idiot lawyers, and some people trying to defend the games on the basis of freedom of speech. I'd rather take the social criticism angle than the "But you honor, beating up kids in school entertains and engages me! Whatever happened to fun for fun's sake?!?" defense. And further, girl, this article is probably not about you
    • I know a lot of you are questioning anyone limiting access to certain games. Generally, I support more often than not. As a martial arts instructor over the last 15 years, I can tell you that experiencing (experiential knowledge) is key to understanding and development: mentally, physically and emotionally. However, YOU WILL BECOME WHAT YOU PRETEND TO BE. Keep practicing something and it becomes easier to do. Since no one can really force you not to play the game (Congress did not stop the release of "
  • [It] could have been so much more of a scathing critique of high school social politics than it turned out to be.

    Well, I am sure this issue will be addressed by the many copy cat games which will follow. Or perhaps in the charity-commission games which will contain a bold and powerful message against bullying.

    I want to play Bully. Not because I want to run around beating up children or because I think the whole premise is amusing, but because the plot and story seem different and new compared to the cu

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by meringuoid (568297)
      I am sick to the back teeth of Animal Crossing: Wild World.

      It's getting old for me too. I mean, how many times can you WOW, TURNIP PRICE IS LIKE 478 BELLS! WOOT! BIGGER HOUSE HERE I COME!...

      Erm, as I was saying... how many times can you go digging for HOLY CRAP COOL I'VE FINISHED MY STEGOSAURUS!

      No, sorry, what was it... Ah yes. I'm sick to death of that evil bloody kitsune Crazy Redd and his forged artwork. Surely there should be another way of obtaining material for the museum's gallery. That's why I

      • And Firefox's inbuilt spellchecker doesn't know 'kitsune'. Silly thing.
        That is silly. It also does not know kermode. Kermode bears are awesome. At least a right click'll add 'ya. (o:
      • Real Daleks don't climb stairs - they level the building.
        DO NOT BLAS-PHEME!
    • by vilenin0 (924361)

      ...but because the plot and story seem different and new compared to the current crop of games. I am sick to the back teeth of Animal Crossing: Wild World.

      You're right. What with Nintendo's incessant release schedule introducing a new Animal Crossing every four years AND the seemingly endless army of Animal Crossing clones the third parties keep releasing. Not to mention the constant public fervor... When will we get a breath of fresh air from small town simulations featuring these anthropomorphic freak

  • public? (Score:3, Funny)

    by spectral (158121) on Thursday November 02, 2006 @05:34PM (#16696149)
    hehe he said pubic.
  • Even as a game we can have an interesting social commentary in it. But in the end, games are about having fun, and Rockstar isn't known for their social commentary, they are known for open world game play.

    I do agree Rockstar can use better writers, their characters aren't exactly inspired (unless inspired means "We just used Tony Montana and gave him a little Ray Liotta acting") So them trying to give a social commentary would be like monkeys acting out shakespeare. You won't get the point, but it could
    • "go watch something like the basketball diaries"

      Why can't we have social commentary on that level in games? Where is it written that games must be frivolous? I'm not saying that all games need deeper meaning, or social commentary, but it would be awfully nice if *some* game producers actually tried to take it to the next level. That's what Mr. Bogost and the Serious Game Source site are advocating, because the best way to get regulators to take games seriously is to produce games that take themselves ser
      • by kinglink (195330)
        My point is he's asking the WRONG company to do it. MGS has commentary on many topics since the begining, You can read in social commentary on many games even if it's not there. But just like we have something deep in some games doesn't mean we can't have an action game, and bully never looked like it was going to be anything like what they are advocating.

        Rockstar is the wrong company to start this type of game because as it is most regulators arn't going to take them serious even if they try to be, they
        • by aafiske (243836)
          Yeah, because the sarcastic, humorous, and vulgar South Park never attempts to make biting social commentary or anything. It'd be stupid if it tried.

          Er...

          • There's a higher level of tolerance for vulgarity in TV and film because the cultural watchdogs are satisfied that they can be kept from children. The same people still think of games as being strictly kids' stuff, so vulgarity in games is horrific to them.

    • by mink (266117)
      "and Rockstar isn't known for their social commentary"

      Have you listened to any of the radio station in any of the GTA3 series games?
  • ... not because I expect a fully realized system of high-school popularity politics, but because I want to play Skool Daze 2006 in glorious 3D. So far as I've heard the setting is very much a Beano Annual kind of thing. Elements of Winker Watson, elements of the Bash Street Kids. All done with a GTA engine. Sounds fantastic.
  • not because it might be a pubic nuisance or a danger to kids

    Does the game come with a STD or what?
  • Oh noes, Jack Thompson is going to have a field day with this new "pubic nuisance" feature!
  • I want someone to make a Concentration Camp game where you play the Nazis and see if it causes a ruckes near as big as a game about schoolyard bullies.
    • I want someone to make a Concentration Camp game where you play the Nazis

      And if you can match the cards and solve the rebus [wikipedia.org] before the Jews, you get to go through with the Fuehrer's final solution, right?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      It's called "KZ Manager" [wikipedia.org]. "The goal of the game is to keep the camp functioning by keeping the "public opinion" or other important resources and gauges over or under a certain threshold. In one version, public opinion rises when the "manager" executes a number of prisoners with Zyklon B. However, ordering said gas costs money, which can be gathered by forcing the prisoners to work. Spending too much time without a "sufficient" number of executions makes "public satisfaction" drop, and having too few workin

  • it's hard to defend the game, not because it might be a pubic nuisance or a danger to kids, but because it could have been so much more of a scathing critique of high school social politics than it turned out to be

    Games are about fun. Since when do they have to worry about including a social message?

    Take Mario for example. Bowser is attempting to institute a tyrannical rule over the Mushroom Kingdom. This is fertile ground for a scathing critique of invasion and dictatorships, but that would make a re

  • It may have nothing to say, but its still every picked on geeks dream come true. I can imagine many a young geek will be taking out his frustration with this. If I had this option when I was kid it would have avoided many poundings as I tried and often failed to stick up for myself.
  • I think it's a kool idea and plan to give it a spin. Good or bad, I think it's a creative idea, certainly like nothing we've seen before from a video game...

    I've said it before and I'll say it again - games aren't JUST for kids, I think us grups can handle a few bullies, or at least have fun tryin.

    If you don't like it go play "Hello Kitty Island Adventure" and shaddup.
  • ...it could have been so much more of a scathing critique of high school social politics than it turned out to be.

    I really can't think of anything I'd be less likely to see/read/watch/participate in than a "critique of high school social politics". Sounds like something shown at 3:15am on the public access station.

    I don't think there is anything inherently wrong with games having more depth, but the thoughts they provoke should enhance the game, not make me fall asleep.

  • People will accept the violence. But the kissing [foxnews.com] may be over the top for a lot of male gamers.

    We all love the lesbians, but male on male still doesn't sell well to the mainstream.

    Of course, Jack Thompson did his best to help publicize the game, so we'll have to see how well it does.
    • by kalirion (728907)
      hahaha

      From the article:

      "I can't have my kids playing this game. This is morally reprehensible. GTA (Grand Theft Auto) is a real man's game, Bully is a disgrace," wrote a poster using the handle spideRRR on GameSpot.com.

      Yeah, it's nice to know how people prioritize...
  • by Thumper_SVX (239525) on Friday November 03, 2006 @10:15AM (#16702991) Homepage
    I mean, seriously. I remember playing this game years ago! [wikipedia.org]

    Has this one just become a big deal because the Spectrum couldn't handle full motion 3D graphics? Bully seems to be just a logical evolution of Skool Daze, a game that's over 20 years old now but was great in its time (and I played it recently on a Spectrum emulator and enjoyed the hell out of it, still!). Hell, it even had the "homosexual content" thing down where you could kiss guys, so even that's nothing new.

    Having said that, I'm actually looking forward to picking this one up and playing it. I have always enjoyed Rockstar's games and I see no reason I won't enjoy this, too. I doubt it's going to turn me into a bully because (a) I'm not at school; I'm in my 30's and (b) Grand Theft Auto didn't turn me into a carjacking gun-toting villain except maybe for a few hours every few days when I got time to play it! If you seriously can't separate fact from fiction enough to play a game like Bully, then you probably shouldn't go to the movies, or watch TV... or hell read a book!
    • by mgblst (80109)
      Grand Theft Auto didn't turn me into a carjacking gun-toting villain except maybe for a few hours every few days when I got time to play it!

      If you can't argue them on the points, then put words into their mouths. It makes it much easier to win when you control both sides of the argument.

      They aren't saying this, but they are saying (correctly of incorrectly) is that Violent video games can also make people violent. This is something that is very difficult to prove is wrong. Have you noticed yourself
      • I've played violent video games since I got my first computer in 1982. Hell, I wrote a couple of shareware/freeware violent games. I feel that I grew up into a relatively well adjusted and normal adult, and most of my peers agree. I do realize some people have a tenuous grip on reality, and they could have found themselves being made more violent or desensitized to violence by violent computer games, but these same people would probably have the same problem with movies, TV and books.

        The primary problem her

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