Monday, January 15, 2007

Playing Bully...Firsthand

After following the controversy from the sidelines last semester (primarily as a result of a hectic course schedule and backlog of games that I first needed to catch up on), I have finally procured a copy of Bully and started in on one of the most talked about games of 2006. Comps readings have limited how much time I've been able to spend in Bullsworth Academy at this point, which is too bad because this game is both "addictive" (for lack of a better term) and endlessly fascinating. So far my in-game-days have been focused on keeping up with classes (which are much too easy to skip), trying not to get pounded too often (which is really tough, since everyone is out to get me), and slowly building up my "cred" amongst the various, violent boys' cliques around school. While you can minimize the violence you choose to engage in, it's impossible to get by without getting scrappy. In my first run through of the very first mission it took me about 0.2 seconds to resort to violence after a growing gang of older boys jumped me on my way in. The characters themselves provide (both explicitly and implicitly) interesting commentary on some pretty heavy social issues and the stresses associated with being a teenaged boy. This is a game about trying to fit in amongst a population of frustrated and alienated--yet highly affluent--youth, where social status reigns supreme and random acts of bullying and aggression all too easily lead to more serious forms of violence. More to come as I progress beyond "5% completed" (this game is enormous!).

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