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Arthur Schaper: The Politics of 38 Studios: Junk

Friday, December 27, 2013


Rhode Island needs to junk the politicians who pushed the 38 Studios video game deal, believes Arthur Scahper.

Last week, Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee appraised the auctioned lock and stock of failed video game company 38 Studios. Chafee called the defunct video game company’s intellectual property “Junk.” One has to applaud candidate Chafee for criticizing the public-private partnership. He shouldn’t have stopped there. The whole political process from Rhode Island’s leaders, from Democrats and even Republicans, which put the quarter in the machine to begin with – should be thrown in the garbage.

Level One

Let’s start from Level One, shall we? Every time the government takes money from one group, and with the best of intentions invests the money for a corporation to create more jobs, all one can hope for is more trouble, waste, and fraud. Diverting tens of millions of taxpayer dollars in a cash-strapped state to a high-risk venture, a video-game company, with a former baseball player as CEO: Just writing this scenario gives me pause. Hitting the reset button, I remain unsettled all the more. Maybe a magic mushroom can power me through this muddle.

Look, I love video games. I saved my allowance money just to get the Nintendo 8-bit NES console in the mid-1980s. Mario and Luigi were a lot of fun, and I even collected the Nintendo Power magazines to get a feel for what I would be getting. I spent my money (not someone else’s), and I took the time to learn about my investment. I cannot believe that this writer as an eight year old had greater presence of mind and money than the political leadership which brokered the broken 38 Studios deal.

Carcieri’s support of the deal

Who pressed the start button on this dumb idea? Sharing his side of the story on WPRI news with Tim White on September 2012, former Republican Governor Donald Carcieri, who had championed the deal, shared: “We all felt, we were all excited.” Yes, the powers that were had a good feeling that a high-risk venture in video gaming would save Rhode Island.

Carcieri admitted his support for the decision, yet subdued the admission as only one vote out of twelve to stump for the company. He defended himself and the Board enacting the loan, arguing that they made the best decision they could at the time. He also refused any responsibility for the fate of the company, since he left office and had no knowledge or control over the company’s supervision.

From “Player One Start” to “Your Princess is in another Castle”, what part did the General Assembly play in this video game break-down?

Speaker Fox’s role

Writing to ProJo this past summer, Lori Ribeiro fingered Speaker Gordon Fox and his Democratic flock in Providence (A fox watching a flock. Be very afraid!). No matter what the governor then or now did with respect to 38 Studios, the General Assembly under the minority rule of District Four Rep Gordon Fox passed the bill. Instead of powering up the state economy, 38 Studios has been a Goomba of a boondoggle. While the Mario Brothers could stomp the Goombas flat, the video game debacle has flattened any chances of recouping any money for the state.

I reviewed the stunningly corrupted interview Fox engaged with Tim White on WPRI. Consider the Speaker’s thoughts on the House Oversight Committee on 38 Studios. Like Carcieri, Fox supported the deal in the beginning. Regarding Fox’s role in oversight, White asked:

“Should you even be deciding whether to issue subpoenas?” White reminded the audience that Fox was friends with key players in the deal.

Speaker Fox answered: “It’s pursuant to the rules.” He then dismissed any notion of recusing himself, despite the blatant conflict of interest on the matter. About compelling testimony before the committee, Fox demurred:

“It makes for good theater. ‘We want to subpoena people’. It’s a tool.”


“Part of robust oversight, which didn’t exist before I was Speaker, you have to look at rather than doing document dumps, you have to take sort of an excising view of these documents. . .”

White interrupted Fox again: “You have ties to this deal.”

In other words, what kind of oversight can we expect from the overseer who was seeing through the deal in the first place? Fox countered repeatedly: “Let the process go through”, but if the whole investigation is distorted from the outset, what’s the point? Quid custodiet. . .

Fox then redefined oversight: “Learn about what happened, come up with different policies and practices to make for healthier government.”

If the head is sick, the whole body suffers, and Speaker Fox heading investigations into his own government’s mistakes will ensure that Rhode Island will never get over 38 Studios “Game Over”.

In the mean time, Rhode Islanders can take comfort in California’s craziness. 38 Studios cost one hundred million dollars. Governor Jerry Brown is full speed ahead on a billion dollar bullet train boondoggle. In other words: “A lot of junk!”

"This is not a damn game," US House Speaker John Boehner once shouted earlier this year. Rhode Island needs to junk the politicians who pushed the gamey 38 Studios video game deal!


Arthur Christopher Schaper is a teacher-turned-writer on topics both timeless and timely; political, cultural, and eternal. A life-long Southern California resident, Arthur currently lives in Torrance. Follow him on Twitter @ArthurCSchaper, reach him at arthurschaper@hotmail.com, and read more at Schaper's Corner and As He Is, So Are We Ministries.

Related Slideshow:
Rhode Island’s Most and Least Popular Politicians

The statewide poll conducted by the Taubman Center for Public Policy at Brown University in October 2013 is the latest public opinion survey by the Ivy League institution.  

See how elected officials fared in Brown polls in years past BELOW.  

Prev Next

Mayor Angel Taveras


October 2013: 63.9%

October 2012: 65.6%

December 2011: 51.7%

Prev Next

Treasurer Gina Raimondo


October 2013: 54.2%

October 2012: 58.7%

December 2011: 52%

Prev Next

Senator Jack Reed


October 2013: 51.6%

October 2012: 58.5%

December 2011: 46.4%

July 2010: 55.6%

December 2009: 56.3%

September 2008: 68%

September 2007: 61%

September 2006: 70%

September 2005: 65%

June 2004: 63%

September 2003: 62%

Prev Next

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse


October 2013: 39.4%

October 2012: 45.4%

December 2011: 33.6%

July 2010: 42.8%

December 2009: 43.7%

September 2008: 46.2%

September 2007: 41%

Prev Next

Rep. Jim Langevin


October 2013: 38.7%

October 2012: 41%

December 2011: 41.9%

July 2010: 54.6%

December 2009: 46%

September 2008: 51.2%

September 2007: 55%

September 2006: 56%

September 2005: 62%

June 2004: 56%

September 2003: 56%

Prev Next

AG Peter Kilmartin



October 2013: 35.6%

October 2012: 35.8%

December 2011: 34.5%

July 2010: 20.2%

Prev Next

Sec. of State Mollis


October 2013: 35.6%

October 2012: 28.6%

December 2011: 25.6%

July 2010: 32.6%

December 2009: 22.6%

September 2008: 24.1%

September 2007: 23%

Prev Next

Lt. Governor Roberts


October 2013: 32.9%

October 2012: 37.5%

December 2011: 32.8%

July 2010: 33.5%

December 2009: 22.4%

September 2008: 24%

September 2007: 37%

Prev Next

Rep. David Cicilline


October 2013: 26.6%

October 2012: 29.7%

December 2011: 24.3%

*July 2010: 40.3%

*December 2009: 40.8%

*September 2008: 46%

*September 2007: 64%

*September 2006: 58%

*September 2005: 60%

*June 2004: 61%

*September 2003: 67%

* As Mayor of Providence

Prev Next

Sen. President Paiva-Weed

October 2013: 23.5%

October 2012: 26.2%

December 2011: 24.1%

July 2010: 21.4%

December 2009: 19%


Prev Next

Governor Lincoln Chafee

October 2013: 23%

October 2012: 28.5%

December 2011: 27.4%

*September 2006: 51%

*September 2005: 54%

*June 2004: 56%

*September 2003: 50%

* As U.S. Senator

Prev Next

Speaker Fox


October 2013: 20.5%

October 2012: 18.3%

December 2011: 25.9%

July 2010: 20.2%


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Sammy Arizona

""I commend the RIEDC Board for its EXTENSIVE DUE DILIGENCE and for taking this significant step to bring jobs to Rhode Island," Don Carcieri THE MAN WITH THE VETO PEN said the night the agency approved the loan to Carcieri's fellow conservative Republican Curt Schilling.


Rhode Island's director of revenue said she "was not in favor" of the 38 Studios deal and and expressed those concerns DIRECTLY to then-Gov. Don Carcieri.
Gov. Carcieri still won't face taxpayers despite the stunning implosion of the $100 million loan guarantee he got them to give Curt Schilling's video game company,

Arthur Schaper

"A Citizen" contacted me, a former employee of 38 Studios, and he offered the following addendum:

Curt Shilling was not the CEO of 38 Studios.


At any rate, Rhode Islanders should do whatever they can to ensure who knew what, who's going to jail, and frankly who should be paying for this immense liability.

G Godot

This is Rouges Island where "Defeat is an orphan, while victory has many fathers".

G Godot

At some point the "taker class" here will so far outnumber the productive folks that the whole pathetic economy of the state will implode. It will remain, though, a great vacation spot for the trust fund babies and whatever "profession" allows those who practive it to steal the most money. There will always beplenty of good slip space in Newport, and "undocumented workers" to wash the decks.

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