In the wake of a number of school shootings and near-shootings, the frightening new video game Bully was released today, much to the dismay of many parents and political leaders. The game is produced by Rockstar games, the same people who produce Grand Theft Auto, which is well known for its violence, which includes running down police officers with a motor vehicle, as described in an article in the Washington Post. The new game focuses on a boy named Jimmy and his first day at a reform school (he's been expelled from every other school he's attended). He encounters all kinds of cliques, from jocks to nerds to dropouts. In the game, Jimmy has the opportunity to defend the nerds, sometimes with baseball bats, other times with slingshots—or he can walk away without fighting.
The creators at Rockstar games defend Bully by saying that he's a kid whom we’ve all been at one time. He gets bullied and he bullies others, which is common in real life at school. However, in school, if you defend a friend with a baseball bat you tend to get in serious trouble. It begs the question: what are we teaching our children if we condone violent, bullying games? Are we telling our children that this is the type of behavior one must display when confronted with a bully? According to NCPC's research, "bullying can be a gateway behavior, teaching the perpetrator that threats and aggression are acceptable even in adulthood. In one study by Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, nearly 60 percent of boys whom researchers classified as bullies in grades 6-9 were convicted of at least one crime by the age of 24, while 40 percent had three or more convictions."
With statistics like these, do we really need to promote aggressive behavior to kids through video games?