Florida Judge Wants To See 'Bully' in Court

By Mike Musgrove
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, October 12, 2006

The Bully is taking a beat-down. Game publisher Take-Two Interactive Software Inc. was ordered to demonstrate an upcoming video game titled "Bully" for a judge to determine whether it violates Florida's public nuisance laws. Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Ronald Friedman issued the order yesterday.

The move is a major coup for conservative Miami attorney Jack Thompson, known for his crusades against pornography and obscene rap music, and now the video game industry. He claims that the makers of the game have designed a "Columbine simulator" in Bully, which follows the life of a prep school student as he navigates the social ladders of a fictional school called Bullworth Academy.

Thompson filed the lawsuit a month ago, claiming that the game would violate Florida's public-nuisance laws, which are more typically used to prosecute environmental polluters. Besides Take-Two, the suit also names retailers Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and GameStop Corp.

"My view is that the game potentially impinges on public safety," he said. "I'm pretty sure that the game is harmful to minors."

The game is scheduled to be released Tuesday for the PlayStation 2. It has been rated "T" for Teen by the game industry's ratings board.

Thompson said that he and the judge plan to watch the game played in its entirety, no matter how long that takes.

Attorneys for Take-Two did not respond to phone calls or e-mails last night. Rockstar Games, the Take-Two subsidiary that developed the game, as well as the bloody Grand Theft Auto franchise, also did not respond.

As the game has neared its scheduled release date, Rockstar has given a few tech sites and video game magazines an early look at it. So far, the early write-ups seem to have reviewers surprised by the game's lack of violence.

Clive Thompson, who reviewed the game for Wired.com, concluded that the game is "snarkily clever social commentary." His review described the game as not violent.

"The game doesn't glorify bullying at all," he wrote. "Indeed, it's almost precisely the opposite."

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