A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What 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.
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- Kids say
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?
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.
Talk to your kids 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?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.