Bullying’s seven archetypes and how they’re used in videogames

We’ve all dealt with bullies and bullying in our lives. At school, at work, at home and even with our friends. Bullying is something that seems like it should be easily stopped, when in reality it’s deeply ingrained in our society.

The unfortunate reality is that bullying is unlikely to go away any time soon, but thankfully, the more we educate ourselves and our children, the more we tackle the problem head on and the more we don’t let bullies get away with their abhorrent behaviour, the better off we’ll be.

Barbara Coloroso is renowned for her knowledge and talks related to parenting, bullying and children and her book The Bully, The Bullied and the Bystander lists seven common types of bullies. While Coloroso deals mostly with children, bullying isn’t confined to the schoolyard and adult bullies can be even more harmful than their younger counterparts. If you apply the broad concept of bullying — and Coloroso’s seven archetypes — to videogames, you find that many of our favourite villains and even some heroes are bullies.

Confident Bully – Andrew Ryan – BioShock

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The confident bully thrives on feeling superior to others. They have an enormous ego, a lack of empathy and a tendency for violence. Their peers will often admire them for their strong personality, however its simply a personification of their ego and of having no empathy for their victims. The confident bully will surround themself with a few close confidants and sycophants; usually other bullies or weaker individuals who bolster their ego and play to their superiority complex.

Andrew Ryan is gaming’s finest example of the confident bully. The founder and leader of Rapture, Ryan manipulated everybody and everything to cement his place at the top. Ryan felt nothing for Bioshock’s “Sad Saps”, permitting Dr Suchong to experiment on them in order to create an army and enacting the death penalty for even just contacting the surface.

Any contact with the surface exposes Rapture to the very Parasites we fled from. A few stretched necks are a small price to pay for our ideals.


Excerpt from “Death Penalty in Rapture” – Audio Diary: BioShock

Ryan has a proclivity for violence, even going so far as to murder the mother of his child. His inner circle worship him as if a God and carry out his bidding without question.

Ryan is the quintessential confident bully; intelligent, unfeeling, ruthless and egotistical.

Social Bully – GLaDOS – Portal

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The weapons of the social bully are gossip, taunts, cruelty and social exclusion. The social bully is easily jealous of others and has low self-esteem, which is hidden behind a falsely inflated confidence and fake charm. The social bully loves to play games and will often pretend to be caring and compassionate to try to hide the true nature of their intentions.

Portal’s GLaDOS is an extreme version of the social bully. She can’t help but torment the player and play games within games. At the beginning of Portal GLaDOS presents herself as a friend, somebody to rely on and somebody who will help. In reality, she is positioning herself to apply maximum cruelty to the player through taunts and verbal jibes.

You are not a good person. You know that, right? Good people don’t get up here.

Maybe you should marry that thing since you love it so much. Do you want to marry it? WELL I WON’T LET YOU! How does that feel?

There was even going to be a party for you. A big party that all your friends were invited to. I invited your best friend, the Companion Cube. Of course, he couldn’t come because you murdered him. All your other friends couldn’t come, either, because you don’t have any other friends because of how unlikable you are. It says so right here in your personnel file: “Unlikable. Liked by no one. A bitter, unlikable loner, whose passing shall not be mourned. Shall NOT be mourned.” That’s exactly what it says. Very formal. Very official. It also says you were adopted, so that’s funny, too.


GLaDOS – Portal

GLaDOS’ childish and surly behaviour, seeming jealousy of the player and continued and increasingly hostile taunts are the mark of the social bully. The social bully tries to position themselves above another in order to fit in. Even though GLaDos and the player are the only characters (aside from the Sentry Turrets and Companion Cubes) GLaDos can’t help but try to demean the player in order to make herself feel superior.

Fully Armoured Bully – Albert Wesker – Resident Evil

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The fully armoured bully is one who is characterised by flat affect. Someone with “severe reduction in emotional expressiveness”, they usually display a cold and emotionless exterior. Their feelings are either so deeply buried or so difficult for them to understand that they focus only on their vindictive determination to bully. The fully armoured bully can be charming when needed, but only in order to hide their true intentions. The victims of the fully armoured bully will suffer merciless and vicious attacks.

Albert Wesker is a true, fully armoured bully. Pretending to be the leader of STARS in order to manipulate them into his attacks, Wesker continues to pretend to be a friend until his true intentions can no longer be hidden. Cold, calculating and incredibly cruel, Wesker believes he is untouchable and is determined to carry out his plans at all costs.

Don’t blame Barry for everything. I hear his better half and two lovely daughters will be in danger if he doesn’t do everything I tell him to.

Have fun watching Jill suffer


Albert Wesker – Resident Evil

Wesker gradually becomes less and less human as the T-Virus changes him and grants him strength and power. The less more powerful he becomes, the less emotional he is. He becomes colder and is only able to display emotions when dealing with his plans or attempts to hurt the protagonists.

Hyperactive Bully – Bowser – Paper Mario

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The hyperactive bully is unable to read and understand social cues and struggles to fit in and find friends. The hyperactive bully is quick to blame others for starting conflicts, despite more often than not being the troublemaker. Often, the hyperactive bully will suffer a learning disability of some description which makes it even more difficult to understand people around them and how to appropriately behave.

When Nintendo finally started to give its characters some back story and a voice in Paper Mario on N64, Bowser appeared to be a more tragic figure. It’s revealed that he’s in love with Peach, or at the very least wants to be her friend and he just can’t understand why she doesn’t like him. He doesn’t understand that his behaviour is inappropriate and that attacking Peach’s friends and imposing himself on her is not the right way to behave and make friends.

I want Princess Peach to like me!

Nothing makes me happier than a smile from you Peach.

Grr! It’d better be important. I’m right in the middle of a friendly chat with the princess.


Bowser – Paper Mario

Bowser simply can’t comprehend how badly he’s behaving and he blames Mario for Peach’s dislike of him, when it’s his behaviour towards her, his hyperactivity in her presence and the repetition of his behaviour that is the true problem.

The Bullied Bully (aka Bully Victim) – Jimmy Hopkins – Bully

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The bullied bully is someone who, after having experienced bullying at the hands of parents, adults and peers, takes out their hurt and frustration on other. The bully victim redirects their feelings of powerlessness onto weaker people in order to assert dominance and take back some power.

Bully’s (Canis Canem Edit) Jimmy Hopkins is dumped at a new school by his uncaring mum and new step-dad while they set off on a honeymoon. Jimmy is an inconvenience to them and is left behind to look after himself. At 15 years old, Jimmy is understandably hurt and frustrated by the actions of his parents, but quickly makes friends. One of his new friends Gary, bullies Jimmy into a fight with another boy and is yet another person to betray Jimmy.

Oh, congratulations. You’re smarter than me. You hate everyone and everyone hates you. Genius.

What happened Gary? I thought we were friends!

[while stuffing someone into a trash bin] In a few years, this’ll be funny!


Jimmy Hopkins – Bully

After beating the other boy in a fight, Jimmy goes on a crusade to rid the school of bullies, but doesn’t realise that he himself has become one in the process. He dismantles each and every clique and forces people to be his friend. He dunks other people’s heads in the toilet, stuffs them in lockers and continues to get into fights.

Jimmy may be the protagonist, but he is undeniably a bullied bully, or bully victim.

The Bunch of Bullies – Koopalings – Super Mario World

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The bunch of bullies act on group, or mob mentality. The bunch of bullies is a group of people who are usually friendly and nice, but band together to collectively bully an individual, even if they normally wouldn’t on their own.

Bowser’s minions, the Koopalings are a bunch of bullies. Together, they gang up on Mario and attempt to hurt him repeatedly. The Koopalings are only children and although acting on Bowser’s instructions, together they are far worse than they are individually.

I thought we were operating as a collective trust! -Iggy Koopa

If we get bored here we could go terrorise your world – Bowser Jr.

Fighting is more fun doncha think? – Bowser Jr.

Where’s my backup? Ludwig, get your shell over here. – Larry Koopa

Just wait until our third, fourth or fifth fight! – Wendy Koopa


Koopalings – Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam

The Koopalings all feed off one another and get each other revved up to take on Mario and or Luigi. On their own they’ve occasionally shown remorse or a dislike for their actions, but together, they are definitely a bunch of bullies.

The Gang of Bullies – Team Rocket – Pokémon

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The gang of bullies is a group of allies, but not necessarily friends, who come together for a common goal. Usually for power, control and domination. They are all highly dedicated to the group and its ideals and in doing so are able to ignore any guilt or consequences associated with their actions or the pain they inflict on their victims.

Team Rocket are a group determined to secure the most powerful Pokémon by any means necessary. They harass, stalk, bully and fight anyone who gets in their way and are unrepentant regardless of their actions. Team Rocket are a perfect example of the gang of bullies, but any of the main antagonists in the Pokémon series fit the bill.

TEAM ROCKET will find the fossils, revive and sell them for cash!

It’s not smart to pick a fight with TEAM ROCKET!

You’re not good enough to play with us big boys!


Rocket Grunt – Pokémon Red & Blue

Team Rocket are fanatical in their devotion to their goals and use any means necessary to get their way. Their main methods are by using violence and intimidation, the calling cards of the gang of bullies.

In every facet of our lives and on an almost daily basis, we deal with bullying in some form or another. Bullies like to try to control and dominate people, find it hard to empathise, will use others to get what they want, can be charming and hide their true nature in order to manipulate people and will never accept responsibility for their actions.

While the above examples are light, entertainment based examples of bullying, real-life bullying is serious and should never be ignored or taken lightly. Children can and should get in touch with the Kids Helpline’s special anti-bullying group if they are suffering bullying.

 If you’re experiencing bullying in your workplace contact your HR department. This handy guide has also been prepared by the Australian Government. Fair Work is also a good resource if you’re experiencing bullying in your workplace.

Bullying has no place in society and must not be tolerated. If you’re a victim of bullying, don’t be afraid to speak out, contact a trusted friend, parent, co-worker or one of Australia’s help hotlines.

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Leo Stevensonhttps://powerup-gaming.com/
I've been playing games for the past 27 years and have been writing for almost as long. Combining two passions in the way I'm able is a true privilege. PowerUp! is a labour of love and one I am so excited to share.

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