Australia's Office of Film and Literature Classification has awarded forthcoming Rockstar title Bully an 'M' rating, suggesting that the game might not be all that violent after all.
According to the OFLC website, Bully contains "moderate themes, violence and sexual references". As a result, it will go on sale with an 'M' rating - one category below the 'MA15+' rating.
Because MA15+ is the highest rating videogames can be awarded, many titles with violent content have been refused classification by the OFLC - and thereby effectively banned from sale in Australia.
Most recently, movie tie-in Reservoir Dogs fell foul of the ratings board, and other titles banned in Australia include NARC, Grand Theft Auto III and Manhunt. Even Marc Ecko's Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure was refused classification on the grounds that it could promote the crime of graffiti.
Little has been seen of Bully's actual gameplay so far, but controversy continues to surround the title. Anti-bullying groups from across the globe have criticised the game's theme, while notorious anti-videogames campaigner Jack Thompson and UK MP Keith Vaz have demanded that it be banned from sale.
Rockstar has defended the game by pointing out that the main character, Jimmy Hopkins, is tasked with standing up for his schoolmates against bullies. A spokesperson for the company told one anti-bullying group, Bullying Online, that the game is "no worse than Just William".
Bully is slated for an October release.