Bully

 
(i)

 

Intimidation game in a high school setting.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Most violence in game is sparked by others (such as bullies); but there's quite a bit of mischief, too.

Violence

Mainly fistfights, but you can also use weapons such as a slingshot, baseball bat, fire extinguisher. There is no blood or killing.

Sex

Sexual innuendos and remarks, kissing, homosexual kiss -- but nothing graphic.

Language

Some occasional swearing, lots of taunting, but not gratuitious.

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Some characters, such as a homeless man, are inebriated in the game.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this game is about bullying behavior in a school setting. There is plenty of psychological brutality and physical violence. Weapons include a baseball bat, garbage can lid, and fire extinguisher but there are no guns, blood, or gore. The game contains some sexual remarks and alcohol references; depending on the path taken, the main character can kiss another boy. The game does include consequences for misdeeds.

What's it about?

BULLY follows a troubled teenager, Jimmy Hopkins, who's been expelled from every school he's ever attended; his mother and new stepfather decide it's best he spend a year at the toughest boarding school in the country. Fifteen-year-old Hopkins must survive at Bullworth Academy by climbing up the social ladder, avoiding bullies or confronting them with moves or pranks of his own, and outsmarting the corrupt Bullworth faculty and student body. Bully lets the player roam around a huge map (bustling with people you can interact with) and take on dozens of missions as you work your way up to ruling the school. As you protect yourself from bullying students who don't like the new guy, you can use fisticuffs or a slingshot or other weapons you may find on the grounds; the game contains no blood and victims, who usually instigate these attacks, lie moaning on the ground when defeated.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Hoopla aside, Bully is an extremely well-produced debut title from Rockstar Vancouver, but one main issue is the frequent and sometimes lengthy load times. This, however, is likely due to the technical limits of the aging PlayStation 2 platform.

Overall, Bully is a fun, fresh, and lengthy single-player adventure for older teenagers and adults. This "Teen"-rated game does contain some violence, as well as foul language and crude humor -- so it's not for young children -- but those overly concerned about this PlayStation 2 game need not be. While the game isn't as controversial as many feared it would be, it will still push a few buttons for its rebellious attitude. But, after all, this is what Rockstar Games does -- and does well at that.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about school violence. How should you deal with bullies in the real world? Should you walk away or fight back? If you try to be a good person in a world full of bullies, are you rewarded? You can ask your kids why they want to play a game that simulates rough behavior when bullying is a real part of daily life. Does it help them cope or give vicarious pleasure?

Game details

Platforms:PlayStation 2
Price:$39.99
Available online?Not available online
Developer:Rockstar Games
Release date:October 27, 2006
Genre:Action/Adventure
ESRB rating:T for crude humor, language, sexual themes, use of alcohol and tobacco, violence (PlayStation 2)

This review of Bully was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Teen, 15 years old Written bymaglev581 January 2, 2011
 

GTA for kids

Great game, just as long as kids can handle it and not emulate it in the real world. The "bullying" is no worse than what occurs in a typical high school, and the violence is nowhere near as graphic as Grand Theft Auto, there are no guns, no blood and no killing. Beating up adults, children, police or girls results in serious in-game punishment. The sexual content consists of a perverted gym teacher asking your character to go on a panty raid, kissing girls and kissing certain boys (although this is not required, and difficult to do unless you look up how). Drugs are not really featured, but there is alcohol and tobacco used by other characters in the game. Also, a homeless man abuses medical drugs. Language is not really an issue, "b***h" and "pr*ck" are about as bad as it gets.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Adult Written byPtotheMtotheJ November 21, 2009
 
This game is awesome. The story mode is pretty long and entertaining. There's lots of stuff to do and things to collect. The only issue parents could have with the game is that it is set in a realistic environment and includes violence and language which kids can imitate. I would recommend this game for older teens. Kids would imitate the things they see in the game.
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Adult Written byStormLordOfAllParent February 18, 2015
 

Be Careful

When I heard about the premise of this game I was a bit on the worried side. I thought that this game had some messages that I wouldn't want my kids to hear. However, after watching the gameplay of bully I relaxed a bit. My kids did not start thinking that they should start beating up the kids at school. They just saw it as a fun "open world" game. Although it is a bit iffy at times, what with all the kissing and some other actions like that. My kids just loved how they get to play as a kid in a video game for once. You may think that eleven is a bit young to let play this game, but kids know a lot more than you may think they do. Just know your kid before letting them get Bully, and you will be fine.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex

Poll

Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Digital Compass