The Controversial History of Bully

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In many respects, the open-world genre that Rockstar Games innovated sparked an overwhelming amount of controversy throughout the last two decades. This much especially holds true since bans and the ceaseless discourse surrounding violent video games continue to plague Grand Theft Auto. Red Dead Redemption is no stranger to similar criticism. And it doesn’t help that players of these franchises typically assume the role of career criminals, men who for one reason or another often find themselves partaking in deplorable acts. But Bully once saw the company exercise its free-roaming expertise beyond the realm of criminality to craft a different kind of sandbox adventure, one wherein over-the-top violence did not sit center-stage.

Bully still received far more than its fair share of backlash, however. The name alone ruffled the feathers of various organizations, politicians, and anti-bullying activists around the globe. Before the public had even seen the game in action, a series of relatively tame screenshots caused a stir, culminating in Bully being dubbed a Columbine simulator.

Yet, despite the contrived drama, this particular Rockstar project remains secure in its status as a fan-favorite. It’s rather unique, too. In between schoolyard-level mayhem, classes, and the occasional clever prank, players adopt the role of hero, standing up to bullies, though never actually playing the part. As such, Bully is more than a misunderstood classic, a game whose pre-release existence was bombarded with the most undeserving negativity.

This is the history of Bully.

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