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August 16, 2015

Bully (Content Guide)


Intro: After a false start last year, I've returned and committed to reviewing one of Rockstar's understated titles: Bully. Shrouded in Controversy, Bully was released to positive reviews and decent sales.

Is Bully as bad as the sensationalist media made it out to be? Or is it one of Rockstar's tamer outings? Found out next, right here, on KVR Gaming.

Reviewed By: KVR (Head Writer)

Verdict: Caution Advised (For Mature Themes, Frequent Sexual References, and Foul Humour)

Strongest Content: Sex/Nudity

Recommended Age: 16+



Content Guide:

Violence:

Mild Moderate Heavy Intense Explicit X-Rated

--Players can beat up other school kids (only those who are teenage boys; beating up young children and girls are frowned upon and immediately gets you into trouble): Thuds and groans are heard as your character jabs, stomps and headbutts other characters, who eventually fall over and clutch their bodies, in pain.

Players can also enter boxing tournaments, with the same principles, except that your opponents' faces get bruised and swollen as the round goes on. (6)

-Players and Bullies can also engage in humiliations, like smacking away another kid's homework, making them punch themselves, punching their upper arm to make their whole arm numb, giving them a "wedgie", or slapping them through the face several times. 

The game calls this "bullying" and has a high risk of landing the player in trouble. It's also discouraged for the most part, except when facing a boss character or when challenged to a fight with a rival clique.

-Players can also stomp on the toes of "Prefects" to escape their grip, or just squeeze their crotches, causing them to cry out in pain.

--Players can fire weapons at other kids, like garbage can lids, rocks from a slingshot, bottle rockets and so on, causing them to grunt in pain and eventually fall over. (5)

Context of Violence: Comedy, Impact

Sex/Nudity:

Mild Moderate Heavy Intense Explicit X-Rated

--Several sexual references: (7)

-Mentions of "slut-mongering".

-A boy is accused of secretly being a hermaphrodite.

-Teachers are heard forbidding children from engaging in "hanky-panky".

-A girl calls a boy a "perv" and insinuates that he's "undressing" her with his eyes.

-A boy slyly asks a girl if she wants to "study anatomy" together. 

-We hear school kids mentioning teen pregnancy.

-A girl talks about wanting to "pair electrons" with a boy and desiring "sweet organic chemistry" with him.

-A girl accuses a boy of being "sexually confused".

-A boy asks a girl if her breasts are "real", and slyly drops a comment about wanting to "check" if they are.

-A girl mentions to a boy that she's been thinking a lot about "human sexuality" and wants to learn "more" some day, obviously some kind of sexual advance towards said boy.

-A reference to a boy having a sex change.

-A boy insults another boy by saying that the latter boy's mother slept with the principal of a school to get him enrolled.

-A boy awkwardly makes a joke that another boy should become a male stripper, implying that the former boy is homosexual.

--A male teacher is shown coming out of an adult store clutching a few magazines. A boy catches him, to which he stammers something about looking for "naughty boys", but rephrases and says that he was buying pornographic magazines for "research" on how "bad" they are. He then tasks the player with getting a couple of panties from the girls' dorm for "laundry" purposes. The player then acquires several panties and brings it to the man, who rewards you with money and takes the panties away, clearly for dubious reasons. (7)

--A woman talks about how a man makes her feel all "gooey" inside, and asks you to bring him on a date for her...by sedating him. Once he's sedated, she leads him into a motel, saying something about learning him "biology", implying that she's going to sleep with him against his will. (7)

--Players are able to kiss several girls during the game, with smooching noises heard. Players are able also able to kiss boys with their male character. This is optional, however. (6)

--Inside of a bathroom, we hear a girl giggling and saying something about "stop tickling me and I'll show you!" When the player enters, a boy and a girl emerge from bathroom stall, the boy's pants missing and underwear exposed. They both run away. (6)

--We see several posters of a woman in her underwear, cleavage, thighs and legs exposed. (6)

--In one mission, the player is tasked with taking "naughty pictures" of a girl, which includes a shot of her posterior as she bends over, a shot of her in her towel, legs, shoulders and cleavage exposed, and one of her painting her nails, bare legs exposed. (5)

--There are mentions of a boy saying "entertaining" things about a man and some "farm animals". A boy also mentions that said boy said "mean things" about another student's mother and "farm animals". (5)

--A boy asks another boy if he likes watching girls in their underwear and mentions wanting to see them do the "breast" stroke again while gesturing at his chest suggestively. The latter boy then asks the former boy if he actually likes watching the boys in swimsuits instead. (4)

--A dwarf-sized woman is depicted with an exposed bra, showing off cleavage, and she makes a remark about tolerating men asking her to do "bizarre" things. (4)

Context of Sex/Nudity: Comedy, Satire

Language:

Mild Moderate Heavy Intense Explicit X-Rated

Uses of S**t, B**ch, A*s, B**t**d, B**ls, Bl**dy, A*s, P**s, C**p, H**l, D**n, Turd, and a few uses of "m*rde", the Spanish version of "S**t".

-God's name is used in vain.

Context of Language: Comedy, Realism

Spiritual Content: 

Mild Moderate Heavy Intense Explicit X-Rated

--A hippy type woman talks about a play being all "pagan", "new age" and "spiritual", and mentions calling upon the "good spirits" to guide her. (4)

Context of Spiritual Content: References Only

Drugs/Alcohol/Smoking:

Mild Moderate Heavy Intense Explicit X-Rated

--A teacher is found to be drinking at a school; we see him drunkenly stammering, with several references to his intoxicated, haggard state. He is shown taking a few swigs, and tasks a boy with finding his stash of bottles and disposing of them before he gets fired. (7)

-A homeless man is also shown drinking at several points, and is almost always depicted to be drunk or hangover in some capacity. 

--A homeless man drunkenly asks a boy if he has any "liquor" or "drugs", to which the boy replies in the negative. (5)

-A boy says that he's incredibly excited, but jokes that it could just be his medication.

--A man jokingly states that "we don't have a bar in the dorm; just a soda machine." (3)

Context of Drugs/Alcohol/Tobacco Usage: Comedy

Gross Stuff/Gore:

--Players are tasked with destroying several port-a-potties and trapping a man inside of the remaining one; when destroying the cubicles, brown liquid is shown leaking out over the ground. After trapping the man inside the last one, your character pushes the cubicle over a cliff and onto the road below. The man emerges covered in faeces and brown liquid. This is shown for quite some time. (8)

--The cook of the school, a large woman with foul teeth and flies hovering around her, is shown sneezing messily into a pot of food on two occasions, fluids splattering everywhere. She states that it adds "flavour" to the food, and asks a boy to sneeze into it as well and try to get "bits" into the food. She also mentions that she's worn her knickers since "last summer" and asks you to buy her new ones. (8) 

--As part of a prank, a student feeds a dog "rancid" meat. The dog subsequently defecates, whimpering whilst doing so. The student picks up the faeces off-screen and puts it in a bag, leaves it in front of a door, and lights it. The teacher inside stomps on the bag, extinguishing it, but he reacts in disgust at the smell and the faeces on his shoes. (Not shown.) (7)

--Several students and people are shown vomiting during the game, with yellow/pink fluids visible in detail as they throw up graphically. (7)

--The Biology class involves dissecting dead small animals, such as frogs, rats, etc, and removing their organs. This is detailed, showing the dead animal's organs, intestines, hearts, bloody skin, and even their testes. (7)

--Players are tasking with "spiking" a rival clique's water supply by urinating in it, which your character does off-screen. A student from the clique is shown having a drink and graphically vomiting all over the place. (6) 

--A boy asks if a homeless man likes to "go" in his own pants, a boy  mentions that he "wet" himself prior to the game's events, and a boy makes relieved noises whilst urinating loudly in a bathroom stall. The boy in question is stated to have a weak bladder and is called "Pee Stain" by a bully. (5)

-Players can also use the bathroom, urinating noises heard. (No nudity.) 

--Players are tasked with spraying demeaning graffiti referencing the "greasers", one of the insults being "grease b**ls". (5)

Scary Stuff/Intense Scenes:

--The game features a Halloween level, with students dressed up as zombies, vampires, devils, and so on. Fake skeletons are hung around the school. (4)

Dialogue/Miscellaneous:

--Going with the theme of the game, several bullies hurl nasty insults at your character, calling him "fat", "ugly", "stupid", "retarded", "pansy", and threaten him with all kinds of physical violence, like beating him up ("You're gonna be p**sing blood!"), and even killing him. (6)

--A girl mentions that she was set up with her cousin as her family wants them to get married, and they used to have brothers and sisters marry before it was made illegal. She also makes an off-hand reference to her inbred aunt having four thumbs. (6)

--A boy constantly degrades a smaller boy who tags along with him, calling him a "femme boy", "girliest boy in school", poking and prodding at him whilst mockingly imitating the boy, and then kicking him in the crotch. (6)

--A boy calls a group of people "massively inbred". A boy later confirms that they are, mentioning his one family member only had one chin and ended up in the "lunatic" asylum, and mentions that he has one "webbed" foot. (6)

--Players can prank other students by "egging" them, putting "kick me" signs on their backs, exploding crackers near students and knocking them over, and so on. (5)

Morality:

Abysmal Sketchy Average Good Heroic

Players take on the role of a teenage delinquent, who tries to survive in a harsh school environment filled with bullies of all shapes and sizes. The morality is not always bad; the player can perform tasks for other kids (some of which are shady, others noble) and your character shows mercy towards his enemies. He also tries his best to resolve conflict in the school, even though he uses violence as a solution.

-Players can choose to peacefully resolve issues with certain characters, by apologising to them, talking things through, or just simply paying them to leave you alone.

Morality Type: Shades of Grey

Conclusion:

Bullying is a very serious epidemic within schools, causing large amounts of psychological damage to the victims of such domination. As someone who has spoken on the issue of Cyberbullying in the past, it would seem appropriate for me to address this simple question: Does "Bully" promote "Bullying"?

Yes and no. Yes in the fact that players are able to engage in behaviour that constitutes as bullying. In fact, the storyline involves your character bullying other characters. No, in that the characters in question are even worse bullies themselves, and that the player can often minimise the bullying behaviour they choose to engage in.

Gamers who were bullied themselves may find the game to be a bit too cartoonish and satirical to take seriously in this regard. The dark humour of the situation allows one to laugh at something decidedly morbid, especially when you've had the same experience.

The sexual references and foul humour are the only pieces of content which push this into the Caution Advised zone. Frequent jokes and verbal references to sexual activity, varying from moderate to strong, are uttered throughout the game. As one can read above, bodily fluids are also used as humour at certain points in the game.

All in all, not the worst game on the market, but not the cleanest one either. It certainly doesn't deserve it's reputation, I'll admit, but parents should be cautious about buying this game for their children.

Bully is rated Caution Advised for Mature Themes, Frequent Sexual References, and Foul Humour.

Verdict: 16+
For Mature Themes, Frequent Sexual References, and Foul Humour

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