Bully under fire once again

Bereaved parent's plea.

Despite being moved back to April 2006, Rockstar's Bully remains one of the most controversial titles of the moment - with the game now the subject of an emotive petition from the mother of a teenager who committed suicide after being bullied.

Rochelle Sides has addressed her online petition, which has 369 signatures at the time of writing, to Rockstar Games president Sam Houser, asking him to "reconsider the release of this game.""

"We would like for you to understand the ramifications of your soon to be released video game titled 'Bully'," the petition begins, before going to reveal a number of US statistics on bullying - including the fact that at least 16 children commit suicide each year due to bullying.

"We ask of you as an adult, as a member of this society, to stop the release of this game," it reads. "If one child sees the violence portrayed in your game as an avenue to end his/her plight with bullying, will all of the money you have made be worth it? How much is a child's life worth to you?"

Many of the signatories to the petition also claim to have lost children to bullying-related suicide, while one notable name on the list is that of attorney Jack Thompson, an outspoken critic of violent games who claims to have sued Florida retailers to prevent them stocking the game.

Of course, the highly-emotional furore is somewhat devalued by the fact that none of the creators of the petition, nor its signatories, have actually seen the game - nor has anyone, in fact, with only a few screenshots and a brief description being released so far.

As such, the game's content has also not been rated as yet - but it's widely expected that it will receive an M rating from the ESRB in the USA, and an 18 rating here in the UK, which the industry would argue will empower parents to make an educated decision about whether to let their child play the game or not.

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