Rockstar Games is no stranger to controversy. Its Grand Theft Auto games, for instance, likely have garnered more headlines than any other game in recent memory.
For that reason alone, it wasn’t too shocking to see the New York-based developer topping the news once again as it readied its latest release, Bully for the PlayStation 2. Even before the game was in stores, critics condemned the game for its presumed violence. One critic in particular, Florida lawyer Jack Thompson—who has a history of taking up arms against the gaming industry—went so far as to call the unreleased game a “Columbine simulator.”
As we now know, all the vitriol and hand-wringing were for naught. Although Bully features its fair share of (fairly PG-rated) fist fights, no trench coats or guns were to be found when the game made its way onto store shelves across the country in mid-October.
That wasn’t the end of Bully’s headline-grabbing adventures, however. Hard-nosed gamers quickly uncovered a controversial “Easter egg” (of sorts) that, to some, brought to mind the infamous “Hot Coffee” incident from Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas—Jimmy, Bully’s protagonist, could hit on and make out with some of his male cohorts.
Although the discovery brought a typically froth-mouthed reply from critics like Thompson, it was warmly welcomed by the otherwise taciturn gay gaming community.
When word broke about Bully’s “boy-on-boy action” on gaygamer.net (a site that bills itself as being for “boys who like boys who like joysticks”), for instance, visitors loudly applauded Rockstar’s stealthy efforts.
“I love how Rockstar just threw this in here with absolutely zero commentary,” commented a gamer going by the handle of “E. Gauger.” The gamer also loved “how everyone was running around screaming ‘Columbine simulator!’ while two under-aged boys are making out in a parking lot like William S. Burroughs all over again. It’s gorgeous and important and cute.”
Another gamer, “Richie,” added: “I love this. Games like this should be about choice. Is Jimmy (the main character of the game) bisexual? He is if you want him to be. I hope more games follow suit.”