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Last Updated: Friday, 13 October 2006, 09:00 GMT 10:00 UK
'Bully' game targeted in the US
School violence is part and parcel of the game
The developers of controversial videogame Bully have defended the title in the wake of a threatened injunction in Florida, in the US.

Lawyer Jack Thompson is attempting to stop the game going on sale, arguing it would cause a public nuisance.

The judge in the case has agreed to take a look at the title and play it before reaching a decision.

A spokesman for developers Rockstar said the game had a teen-only rating in the US and a 15 rating in the UK.

Mr Thompson filed his legal action last month, claiming that the game would violate Florida's public-nuisance laws.

They are typically used to prosecute environmental pollution.

There's no blood at all in the game. There's no physical damage
Rockstar spokesman

The legal action is against the US publisher Take 2, as well as retail giants Wal-Mart and GameStop.

"I'm pretty sure that the game is harmful to minors," Mr Thompson told the Washington Post newspaper.

The BBC News website has been shown an unfinished copy of the game. In it, the main character has to defend himself from school bullies as well as form alliances with different cliques in the school.

Tackling the bullies and stopping them from picking on other children is a key feature of the game.

'Hitting girls'

"Hitting girls, little kids, teachers and prefects lands you in serious trouble - you're busted straight away," said the spokesman.

Canis Canem Edit
The game is set in an American private school

Fighting forms a large part of the title but the developers said it was displayed like a "cartoon or Popeye fight".

He said: "There's no blood at all in the game. There's no physical damage.

"Nobody dies in the game. There are no guns."

But the main character can use dustbin lids and baseball bats to hit other children in the school.

He said: "Anyone over 15 knows that hitting someone with a baseball bat is going to cause serious head injury and would not copy it just because they saw it in a video game.

"I'm pretty sure no parent will be giving this to their five-year-olds."

Dog Eat Dog

In the UK, Bully has changed its name to Canis Canem Edit (Dog Eat Dog) and is due for release on the PlayStation 2 on 27 October.

The Rockstar spokesman said the game was "entertainment" and was "out of reach of people who are unable to draw a distinction between what's real and what's fantasy".

He added: "Video faced the same backlash in the 80s, music did in the 50s when Elvis shaked his hips. Now we think of it as laughable.

"I am fairly confident that this vilification of videogames will be looked at in the same way in 20 years when the policy makers have grown up with video games as much as 30 year olds."

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