This week I picked up and dusted off my Wii and started to play Skyward Sword again. Within the first ten minutes or so, I was rudely introduced to our not-so-friendly, pompadour sporting, bad boy Groose. Immediately those painful memories of being bullied as a kid came rushing back, and I couldn’t control my internal rage as I went full-on hulk mode and smashed everything in sight.
Groose is what I call a “Marmite” character, at least to begin with, you either love him or hate him. Usually the bullies love him, and the nerds hate him. He represents the jock, the braggart, the loudest voice; everything that his victims aren’t. Playing through Skyward Sword was an emotional experience, for the main reason that whenever Groose entered the scene, I immediately wanted to kick his teeth in. He brought back memories of when I was being bullied at high school. My personal bully experiences included being made fun of during public speaking, being pushed around, having my pencil case smashed to bits, stabbed with a compass, shoes stolen in the gym… And that was just my first day! But as Groose started to change, I started to feel sorry for him. I began to understand his motives, his needs, and his self esteem. It made me think more about the bullies at my high school and why they did what they did. The developers of Skyward Sword have given a somewhat non-essential character a worthy development arc, and one that was very effective.
As the title suggests, Groose reminds me of Biff Tannen from the Back to the Future trilogy. Other than both of them being bullies, they both have a thing for the protagonist’s love interest, both are not the sharpest tools in the shed, and they are both very brawny. Where they differ is that Groose learns from his mistakes and starts to do the right thing.
Playing Skyward Sword inadvertently reminded me of these experiences, but it also brought closure. And I saved a few bucks on therapy. The rest of the game is somewhat forgetful, especially the controls, but the character development was definitely spot on.
If you, or someone you know, are being bullied, then please tell someone about it.