Bully Blaster app created by Valley students

FRESNO, Calif.

"You hear about it on the news, even us as students, we see it all the time," said Clovis West High School student Archie Garcia.

For example, two weeks ago Oklahoma State Representative William Fourkiller proposed a bill, that if passed, would add a 1% state sales tax to all video games that have a rating of Teen, Mature or Adult Only by the Entertainment Software Rating Board. A move he said would help address the issue.

But students at the Center for Advanced Research and Technology in Clovis believe video games can also provide part of the solution.

"This is a really good experience for them because they get a chance to create something, put it on the market and have it available for people to download it and play it," said CART interactive game design instructor John Saechao.

Last week, the students from both Fresno and Clovis Unified high schools launched a new app on iTunes called "Bully Blaster." Using their fingertips, players battle bullying by fighting their way through waves of positive and negative words. By destroying the insults and collecting the compliments, gamers compete for their highest score.

"What I like most about the game is that you can choose the words that maybe you have been called and in this way you're kind of defeating them," said Edison High School student Michelle Rodriquez.

"It's like you're replacing the bad words with positive reinforcements," added Bullard High student Kayla Grines.

The team divvied up the duties in developing the app. While some focused on the concept, programming and artwork, others worked on the psychology behind the game.

"We helped picked the words for the game because we had to decide which ones were appropriate for elementary school kids and which ones would work best," said Clovis High student Molly Vanantwerp. "We chose about 10 good and bad words and then narrowed it down from there."

Students at the facility hope the positive reinforcements learned from using the app on a variety of mobile devices will carry over to how those who use it interact with each other in the classroom. So far the game has received a positive response online with more than 300 downloads from people all over the world.

"The downloads aren't just coming from the U.S., but places like China, Germany, France, even Thailand," said Saechao. "It's kind of exciting to check and see, every day, how many downloads we're getting and where they're coming from."

"It's addicting," added Garcia. "I enjoy it, a lot of my friends enjoy it, my family enjoys it."

"Bully Blaster" is available for download on the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch. You can find it on the iTunes store for free. Its creators tell Action News they're working on a new version for Android devices and hope to launch it sometime in the next few weeks.

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