April 18th, 2006

Take-Two Makes Another "Worst of..." List

Some observers believe that on the heels of the highly successful Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Take-Two Interactive may finally be on the rebound. But not all observers are so sanguine about the company's future.

Writing in the Consumer Electronics Stock Blog, former Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of Financial World Magazine, Douglas McIntyre adds Take-Two (NASDAQ: TTWO) to his list of Ten Worst Managed Tech Companies.

McIntyre writes, :The train wreck that is Take-Two Interactive (TTWO), the big time video game company, is a screw-up of the first order. The Audit Committee Chairman resigns, the company dismisses its auditors, the company asks for an extension for its 10-K, the company is hit with multiple shareholder class action suits, the company has a loss in fiscal Q1 loss (1/31/06) compared to a profit a year ago. By the way, the departing director left a little present in the form of a letter critical of the way senior management communicated with the board."

Racist Flash Game Pushes Political Hot Buttons

These days, whenever a major political debate erupts you can pretty much guess that someone is going to make a Flash animation about it. Quite often, Flash games display subtle, biting wit or an over-the-top comic flair.

Border Patrol, a Flash game currently making the rounds on the Internet, has neither.

The issue targeted by Border Patrol is that of illegal immigrant workers in the U.S., currently a red-hot political topic. Most of the debate about illegal immigration centers on America's border with Mexico, so it's especially troubling that in Border Patrol the player's tasks include shooting "Mexican nationalists," "drug dealers," and "breeders" - pregnant Mexican women - who try to rush the border towards a welfare office.

Finishing the game displays a derogatory name for illegal immigrants, as well as a phrase such as "Remember the Alamo," or "Got a green card?"

Links to Border Patrol have been circulating via e-mail in recent days. CBS News reports that they attempted to track down its author without success. The game apparently originated anonymously on a server in the United Kingdom. Border Patrol has subsequently spread to mirror sites, including several racist websites.

Francisco Estrada, the Sacramento Director for the Mexican-American Legal Defense & Education Fund (MALDEF), a civil rights organization which focused on statewide public policy, commented on the animation:

"It's sad to see the demonstration and promotion of hate since what we've seen over the past couple of weeks is a more dignified rational approach."

CM: If this game arrived in your e-mail, you'd have to wonder, who's more tasteless, the jerk who made it, or the person who forwarded it?

-Reporting from the not-so-heavily-guarded US-Canada border, GP Correspondent Colin "Jabrwock" McInnes

California Game Law Architect Moves to Protect College Newspapers

Some gamers will find this story perplexing.

California Assembly Speaker pro Tem Leland Yee (D), the driving force behind his state's video game law, plans to introduce the nation's first bill designed to protect the free speech rights of college newspapers.

Yee will hold a press conference this morning at Skyline College in San Bruno to announce the bill. Joining Yee will be a representative of the California Newspaper Publishers Association, as well as a Skyline journalism professor and the editor of the school paper.

Motivating Yee's action is a recent federal court ruling that college administrators can require student editors to submit articles for prior review before publication. Yee's bill would prohibit censorship of student newspapers at any University of California, California State University, or community college.

GP: Although this newspaper thing sounds like a great idea, given that Speaker Yee's California video game law is currently facing a free speech challenge raised by the video game industry, some head-scratching is certainly understandable. We'll check with Yee's office for his thoughts on how the two issues reconcile with one another.

UPDATE: According to Yee staffer Adam Keigwin, "the violent video game bill was about protecting children and giving parents a tool to help raising healthy kids. The state had a compelling interest. (the college newspaper bill) is about protecting college students' right to free speech and free press. These students are not minors and not affected by the video game bill, but they are very deserving of 1st Amendment Rights. Without a free college press, who will serve as the watchdog and bring sunshine to actions of school administrators? As said many times, Speaker pro Tem Yee is very committed to protecting the 1st Amendment, but his top priority has always been about protecting children and assisting working families."