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Wal-Mart has stopped taking pre-orders for the controversial Bully computer game following a legal demand for evidence to be used in a lawsuit against the firm, the petitioner claimed.

Jack Thompson, a Florida lawyer who campaigns against violent computer games issued a "petition for a deposition to take action" on Tuesday, demanding to see a copy of the game he calls a "Columbine simulator".

"Wal-Mart pulled the game the day it was sued," said Thompson.

Wal-Mart had been pre-selling the Bully computer game at least as late as early August. It has since stopped, though the firm could not confirm whether it had stopped because of the petition.

Bully puts the player in the role of a bullied school child getting through the day. Pre-released screen shots have shown child-on-child violence that includes one kid having his head flushed down the toilet.

Thompson said he wanted to assess the game before deciding to take action against its release in Florida under public nuisance laws. But Take Two Interactive, the game's publisher, had refused to send him a copy, despite giving viewings to what he said were sympathetic games journalists. So he demanded a copy of the game through the courts.

The Register understands that Take Two has not yet submitted Bully to the US Entertainment Software Rating Board for classification.

Thompson argues in his petition that therefore retailers should not be taking pre-sales for Bully because they would not know if they were selling to children a game that would be later classified as adult only.

"This flies in the face of promises by Wal-Mart, by the ESRB, by Take-Two...that the game rating system can and should be relied upon by parents to make intelligent game purchasing decisions," Thomson said in his petition.

"Yet here we have the two respondents pre-selling a controversial, violent game to children prior to its October 1 release with no age rating whatsoever. This is akin to a pharmaceutical company selling a new and controversial drug without prior FDA approval," he added.

Other retailers that are taking pre-sales orders for Bully include Amazon, Gamestop adn Toys R Us. Thompson sent letters to the CEOs of Amazon and Gamestop today, demanding they stop selling the game until it had been rated.

"Please be advised that your company is improperly, possibly illegally, pre-selling the violent Columbine simulator video game, Bully, to anyone of any age, despite the fact that it has not yet received an ESRB age rating," he told them.

The same petition was issued against Take Two Interactive, Bully's publisher.

The firm was unavailable to comment for this article.®

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