Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Ronald Friedman tossed out attorney Jack Thompson's complaint, which stated that the game violated the Sunshine State's nuisance law. The Florida law prohibits activities that can injure the health of the community. Friedman dismissed the suit Friday, just days before the video's North American release Tuesday.
The suit was one part of a long-term personal crusade for Thompson, who has sued game developers in several states and pushed for legislation banning violent games. Thompson termed Bully a "Columbine simulator," but others have defended the game.
Justin Goldberg, communications coordinator for the National Coalition Against Censorship, said the opposition is part of a long tradition in which critics have tried to ban classic literature, movies, music and now video games without reading, watching, listening or playing.
Thompson said he does not trust a game published by Take2 Interactive, which agreed to a settlement after investigators uncovered hidden pornographic sex scenes in the Hot Coffee module of Rockstar Games' Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.
He argued that Bully encourages players to respond to bullying with violence. The game does allow the player to respond by hitting, kicking, using a slingshot and wielding a baseball bat. It does not contain blood or depict death.
Friedman said that, although Bully contains violence, the video game exposes players to less violence than they would encounter watching television.
The Miami-Dade School District has banned Bully and a U.K. Web site that addresses bullying issues is calling for a ban in the United Kingdom. The site, Bullying Online, called for the ban after Rockstar released a short demo.
Thompson is also suing Rockstar in New Mexico and Alabama, claiming several murders in those states would not have occurred if two suspects had not played Rockstar's games. Thompson's attempts at outlawing violent and sexually explicit games in several states have been struck down as unconstitutional.
Chris Smith, a professional gamer from Philadelphia, said during an interview about gaming that he does not believe violent games cause violence. The 17-year-old echoed the defense Heavy Metal music fans and young people who watched violent movies voiced in the 1980s.
"To a degree there is a correlation, but that doesn't mean causation," he said Friday, while preparing to compete in an MLG tournament at Digital Life in New York City. "A lot of problems begin with irresponsible people. I think they're violent to begin with."
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories will be released in a few weeks, and Grand Theft Auto IV is due out next year.