Bully: Scholarship Edition

 
(i)

 

More bad behavior in expanded high school sim.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Players take on the role of a school outcast who decides to stand up to those who bully him and his friends. Still, there is plenty of mischief available should you go looking for it. Players can initiate fistfights, pull fire alarms, break into lockers, egg people's houses, push kids' heads into toilets, and throw firecrackers and stink bombs.

Violence

Mainly fistfights, but you can also use weapons such as slingshots, baseball bats, fire extinguishers, trash can lids, and bricks. You can push a kids' head in the toilet and flush it. Most of the violence is sparked by other characters, and there is no guns, gore, or killing.

Sex

Sexual innuendo, occasional remarks, and sexual pranks including sneaking into a bathroom while a girl is showering to try to get a photo -- all you see is steam and feet. There is kissing -- including a homosexual smooch between two boys -- but nothing graphic. While in front of an adult book store, a gym teacher requests the main character to sneak into the girls dorm to steal panties from laundry.

Language

Some occasional swearing (such as "ass," "damn," "b---h" and "hell") and plenty of taunting by calling someone a "loser" or calling a guy a "girl" (implying he might be gay).

Consumerism

This is an expansion of the original Bully game.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Some characters, such as a homeless man and a down-on-his-luck Santa actor, are inebriated in the game, and you can collect empty liquor bottles. The school cook is a chain smoker. Drugs are alluded to, but never seen or used.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this game is an expansion of the original 2006 Bully game offered on newer platforms, and that it depicts antisocial behavior and violence within a school environment. At its heart it is a simulation about bullying behavior in a school setting and therefore -- given the sad state of school violence -- a hot-button topic for parents. There is plenty of psychological mischief and physical violence, including fistfighting, kicking, humiliating taunts and insults. Weapons include a slingshot, firecracker launcher, baseball bat, garbage can lid, and fire extinguisher, but there are no guns or bombs, nor is there any gore, serious injuries, or deaths. The Wii edition makes use of the console's motion sensitive controls to punch, but doesn't make players engage in the physical act of punching. The game contains some sexual remarks, sexual pranks (stealing girls' underwear and sneaking into a bathroom to try to get a photo of a girl in the shower (all you see is steam), and alcohol references. And depending on the path taken, the main character, Jimmy Hopkins, can kiss another boy. Pranks include pushing kids into toilets, tossing stinkbombs, firecrackers, and itching powder at pedestrians, and throwing marbles on the ground for others to trip over. The game does include consequences for misdeeds.

What's it about?

An update of the original PlayStation 2 game, BULLY: SCHOLARSHIP EDITION is in essence a high school simulation game that puts players in the shoes of teenager Jimmy Hopkins. After being dropped off at a new boarding school by his abusive mother and stepfather, he's immediately targeted as an outcast by several school cliques. He has two choices: succumb to bullying and beatings or stand up for himself and other students who are victimized by these hooligans. Sometimes the decision is left up to the player, but there are many instances in which Jimmy's hand is forced and he's compelled to fight back however he can, be it in the form of a stealth attack with his slingshot or a bit of revenge by breaking into a bully's locker. Make no mistake, Bully is filled with plenty of antisocial behavior. But it also manages to act as a reflection -- albeit a sensationalized one -- of what life is like at some rough and tumble schools.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Thanks to the game's wide gamut of bullying behavior, both physical (fistfights) and psychological (taunts, insults, and humiliation), some parents will be tempted to ban Bully on principle. But in the end, there's little here that most teens won't witness at some point in their day-to-day school lives. In fact, standing up to these video game bullies might even prove somewhat cathartic for kids who suffer bullying in their real lives. Yes, Billy uses excessive violence to accomplish many of his objectives, but he never goes too far--there are no guns, bombs, deaths, or serious injuries in the game. And he does end up accomplishing plenty of good. By the time the game's credits roll, there's peace at Bullworth Academy; all of the school's cliques are friends with one another and the game's most immoral characters have been suitably punished (the main bully is expelled, and a perverted and abusive teacher is fired). Of course, players are free to experiment outside the narrative and start bullying innocents, but there are consequences to these actions--such as being "busted" by ever-present school prefects, losing mission progress, and being forced back to class to play learning mini-games.

Just keep in mind that Bully isn't a game intended for younger kids. While most teens will be able to handle the game's events, younger kids aren't prepared to deal with some of the psychological bombshells this game unleashes (prominent among the high jinx are missions that see the player going on a panty raid for a perverted teacher, shoving an occupied outhouse down a hill, and taking a picture of a bathroom in which a girl is taking a shower – though all we see is steam). It's also worth noting that, thanks in part to the game's spot-on high school humor and surprisingly engaging story, many gaming parents might want to check Bully out -- especially those who remember having been on the receiving end of many a high school prank (and who wouldn't mind a little fantasy payback).

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the fact that in real life, anyone who acts the way these kids act will be tossed out of school. They can also talk through how to deal with bullies in the real world. Should you walk away (as you can in the game) or fight back to show them you're not scared (you can do this too)? The game also lets you stand up for the "nerds" in front of the bullies. You may want to discuss how pranks and other mischief can hurt or harm others. Families could also discuss whether the game provides a moral compass; If you try to be a good person in a world full of bullies, are you rewarded? The game could also prove an excellent launch pad for a discussion about violence in your children's school. You might ask your kids what they have heard and seen and how it makes them feel. You can ask 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? Do your kids see a connection between a game like this and real life?

Game details

Platforms:Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii
Price:$49.99
Available online?Not available online
Developer:Rockstar Games
Release date:March 3, 2008
Genre:Action/Adventure
ESRB rating:T for Animated Blood, Crude Humor, Language, Sexual Themes, Use of Alcohol and Tobacco, Violence (Nintendo Wii, Xbox 360)

This review of Bully: Scholarship Edition was written by

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Quality

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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.

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Kid, 11 years old April 9, 2008
 

Okay? You decide.

I am eleven, and my parents allow me to play this game as long as I don't play it in front of my grandparents. There is mild violence, but there's no blood, and fights don't end in death or KO, they just end in your opponent feeling sore and giving up. There isn't really sexual content at all, unless you're concerned by kissing (characters make out). The language isn't a huge issue, but there is some. For example, if you pass a class sometimes he'll say "D-mn, I'm good!" and there's a mission titled "That B-tch" (the word is never said). I gave it a "Good Stuff" for Educational Value because there are mandatory classes where you have to do academic challenges (such as in games like "Brain Age" and "Big Brain Academy"). Overall, I think parents should decide weather their child is mature enough.
Parent of a 10 year old Written bykwasson1 January 5, 2010
 

good for kids that want GTA, but they cant have M games.

I am only 10 and my mom bought me this game/ it took me a while to convince her to do that. There IS no blood, except for the boxing mini game/ the blood wasn't very graphic at all. I beat the game and it was easy, but there were SO many missions. The story overall was very good and easy to understand. Im not allowed to play M games so i have to wait to play GTA.but its kind of like gta. Weapons are slingshots, 2 by 4s, bottlerocket guns, etc. U can steal bikes and buy weapons at shops. If i were u, I would GET THIS GAME!!!!!
What other families should know
Educational value
Parent of a 14 year old Written bymrpoo September 12, 2010
 

bully

Quite crazy and weird but good game
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Educational value
Safety and privacy concerns

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