The Telegraph reports that the upcoming enhanced version of Canis Canem Edit, to be called Bully: Scholarship Edition in the UK, has come under attack from anti bullying charity BeatBullying.
"We're disappointed this game was created in the first place. Some mindless people thought this was a fun, interesting piece of software to create, but it undermines all the hard work that organisations like ours are seeking to do," said Niall Cowley, of BeatBullying. "Our philosophy is about educating young people that bullying is not a cool thing to do, and this leaves us with a bad taste in the mouth."
Cowley adds that with the release of the first game in 2006 Rockstar attempted to win the backing of the charity through a monetary donation, something the charity greatly resented.
"It was the most distasteful thing in the world - the idea that we could be bought off like that," said Cowley. "We have the interests of the children of this country in our mind, not of the shareholders of this company."
Although criticised for a pro bullying message by much of the non-game media, the game does not encourage the act of bullying. This is confirmed by the Australian Office of Film and Literature Classification which issued a press release on August 28, 2006.
"During the game the player is not encouraged to attack innocent bystanders or undertake acts of "bullying", and is not rewarded for doing so. The "missions" the player undertakes are generally about thwarting acts of bullying, exploitation or discrimination.
"Violence towards innocent bystanders such as school girls and smaller school children causes authority figures such as prefects, teachers and police officers to chase and apprehend the player-controlled character, Jimmy," reads the release.
UK retailers PC World and Currys don't share the same view though, both refusing the stock the new version of the game. A spokesperson stating: "We don't think this is suitable for sale in our stores. We are careful about what we sell and this is something we have decided not to list."
Rockstar has also defended the game, stating people need to approach the title with an open mind.
"It is a comedic romp. The last game sold fabulously in the UK and was critically acclaimed.
"It is not a game about playing a bully. It is about the trials and tribulations of a boy in his first year at school. He protects children against other characters. People have to be able to make their own decisions and to judge for themselves, with an open mind," said a Rockstar rep.
Bully: Scholarship Edition is scheduled for release in March for Xbox 360 and Wii.