Video Game Companies Make A "Killing"

by Anton Chaitkin

Printed in the Executive Intelligence Review,

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Death can strike anyone.

For the Right Price.

You never know when death will come--unless you make a few special arrangements. Because once the Hitman takes your assignment, someone takes a bullet. It's not a righteous way of life, but we all have to make a living. Even if it means making a killing.

--Ad for the role-playing video game ``HITMAN: Codename 47,'' in the May, 2000 issue of Computer Gaming World:

The advertiser, the British firm Eidos, promises the American child who buys their game: ``Unsurpassed 3D graphics, weapons modeling and character [killer and victim] movement''; ``Full access to black market weapons, supplies and personnel''; and ``AI [artificial intelligence] that defines the genre of the thinking shooter.''

The child customer gets realistic training as a mercenary assassin, after the bloody content is morally neutralized and made exciting.

In this report, EIR visits some of the leading corporations that make and sell violent video games in the United States.

It is a very lucrative business for its perpetrators, who seldom appear before the public; yet the revenue from this sordid enterprise, between $9 and $11 billion per year, is now surpassing movie theater ticket sales. The identity and background of those responsible for this mayhem, if widely known, might cause them considerable trouble.

- Midway Home Entertainment -

A case in point is Midway Home Entertainment.

In December 1999--more than seven months after the massacre at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado by video-game addicts Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold--the Chicago City Council voted to grant $2 million to Midway, to keep its corporate headquarters in the city.

Two aspects of this deal were not well publicized: what Midway sells, and the firm's corporate affiliations.

News stories about the protests provoked by the Chicago grant, mentioned that the company publishes ``Mortal Kombat,'' a game in which a character may tear out the vital organs of his opponent. But media accounts did not discuss Midway's retailing of ``Doom'' and ``Quake,'' the advanced point-and-shoot ``death match'' games which have trained the Columbine and other young shooters to kill mindlessly.

The website of Midway Games carries this advertisement for ``Quake'':

Gun 'em down.... Blow 'em to pieces ... or DIE!|...

  • Incorporates the ferocity of the single player game with the supreme bloodlust of the two player Deathmatch....

  • Realistic explosions echo and reverberate, transporting the player to a hellish, dungeon-like environment....:

The game is ``rated M'' for ``Mature,'' an in-joke of the game purveyors, meaning that such games are ``suitable for persons ages 17 and older''; but millions of child customers are living in this hellish fantasy world.

What kind of people would deliberately turn children into gangsters? The answer may not be all that surprising.

It turns out that the corporate entity known as Midway Games is a legal fiction. Corporate spokesman Patrick Fitzgerald admitted to EIR on April 12 that Midway is located in the same office (at 3401 North California, Chicago 60618) as its parent company WMS Industries, and has ``contractual obligations'' with WMS, but claimed that Midway has been a separate company since WMS ``spun it off'' in 1998.

In fact, the same group controls the parent company, WMS, and Midway, its video-games front.

WMS, also known as Williams Industries, is one of the largest manufacturers of slot machines for American gambling casinos. Fitzgerald said that around the same time as WMS/Williams certified Midway as ``separate,'' the company sold off its own holdings of racetracks and Caribbean gambling casinos.

The slot machine business survives the old Chicago pinball machine manufacturing operations of Williams Industries. Back in the Al Capone era, pinball machines were an integral component of the mob-controlled distribution rackets in urban taverns.

Midway Games, Inc. reported to the Securities and Exchange Commission (form 14A, filed Dec. 14, 1999) that Sumner M. Redstone owns 25.3% of the company's common stock, and that Neil D. Nicastro owns 5.7%. Nicastro is chairman and chief executive of Midway; his father, Louis J. Nicastro, is also a Midway director.

On the same day, WMS Industries filed the same SEC form, revealing that Sumner M. Redstone owns 23.4% of WMS common stock; that WMS chairman and president Louis J. Nicastro owns 24.9% of WMS; and his son Neil D. Nicastro, the boss of Midway, owns 23.4% of WMS.

Redstone's personal fortune of $6.4 billion jumped him from 37th to 15th place among the super-rich, USA Today reported on Jan. 26, 1999. Besides producing slot machines and killer-trainer games, Redstone owned MTV, Paramount Pictures, and Blockbuster Video.

Also on the Midway board is Chicago executive William C. Bartholomay, a partner of media magnate Ted Turner and the chairman of the Atlanta Braves baseball team.

- Hasbro -

Players seize new territories, crush enemies, and betray allies in a fast-paced, ruthless quest for world domination.

Does this promotional for a video game sound like propaganda for the British Empire, or Henry Kissinger?

The game, ``Risk II,'' published by Hasbro, was developed for Hasbro by its former employees in a British firm, Deep Red Games Ltd.

Hasbro is also the official U.S. distributor of Pokémon, on behalf of the Japanese manufacturer Nintendo. Hasbro decides how American elementary school children will use the Pokémon monsters and battle figures for fantasy maiming and killing, hour after hour, day after day.

Among the board members of Hasbro are Alan Batkin, vice chairman of Kissinger Associates, Inc.; Paul Wolfowitz, former Undersecretary of Defense and now a power behind George W. Bush's foreign policy team; Marie Josee Kravis, director of the British Empire media cartel Hollinger International and wife of Henry Kravis, the corporate raider and moneybags for President Bush's rise to power.

Hasbro owns Avalon Hill, one of the original recreational war-game companies. Thus, Hasbro is close to the center of a tight little world of game designers and the kook-faction of the military and intelligence community.

The infamous Gary Gygax was a designer with the Avalon Hill company, before he set up his own firm, TSR, to make the satanic medieval role-playing game, ``Dungeons and Dragons.''

In 1989, Eric Dott, then chairman of Avalon Hill, told EIR that his company designed military simulation exercises for ``colonels and up'' in the Defense Department. Dott refused to be specific about the nature of these exercises, or to say whether they were of a classified nature.

Sources close to Gygax told EIR that ``the government was suspicious of Avalon Hill--they saw them as knowing things they weren't supposed to know.'' Dott said, ``The FBI and the Secret Service have come around asking questions several times.''

Counterintelligence inquiries about Avalon Hill were quite logical. Their games, played at popular weekend gaming conventions, involved large numbers of U.S. military personnel, both officers and enlisted men. What were they being recruited to do? Asked about the political-military outlook of Avalon Hill, Dott said, ``We're pretty much all conscientious objectors here.'' Here, the ``peacenik'' who brings young people into fantasy race-wars and every-man-for-himself bloodbaths, gave conflict-simulation exercises to the Defense Department.

In September 1999, Hasbro acquired TSR--the company which created ``Dungeons and Dragons''--further closing the game world's little satanic circle.

- Eidos -

Englishman Ian Livingstone, founder and boss of Eidos, makes ``Tomb Raider,'' a killer game featuring the animated Lara Croft with gigantic breasts; the above-mentioned ``Hitman''; and ``Thief II: The Metal Age,'' in which American youngsters are instructed:

You own the night. Everything else you have to steal.

  • All you have is your stealth, your cunning and the time between dusk and dawn. Luckily that is all you need because everything else is up for grabs--as long as you avoid wandering guards. Use the shadows as your cover. Treasure the silence of your footsteps. And enjoy a nice quiet evening in someone else's home.

  • Advanced Dark Engine allows for a more engaging stealth experience

  • Advanced AI [artificial intelligence] system creates a variety of human opponents to outwit

  • Sophisticated new tools to improve your success as a master thief

The filthy rich Eidos boss Livingstone made his first millions as the European distributor for ``Dungeons and Dragons'' in the 1970s. Over the years, Livingstone has been an intimate companion of Clive Robert and Kevin Buckner, employees of Hasbro and founders of Deep Red Games Ltd., where they made Risk II.

- Death, for the Right Price -

Moving on through the video-game business, one finds an unrelieved horror show.

In 1999, Acclaim Entertainment, Inc. paid its co-chairmen, Gregory E. Fischbach and James R. Scoroposki, $2 million and $1.6 million, respectively, and its president, Rodney Cousens, $3.75 million. For this blood money, they sell ``Hard Core Revolution.'' Children logging on to their website find ads for this video game, about ``hard-core wrestling,'' or ``Real F'n Wrestling.''

These ads on the website were banned from magazines as too violent. One shows a wrestler deploying a staple gun into the head of his writhing opponent; another shows a woman strangling her opponent.

Activision sells the game ``Soldier of Fortune,'' in which children learn to be paid killers for spymasters and race-murderers in Africa or Asia:

You're the world's deadliest soldier of fortune and your mission is clear: survive. Track your prey across the globe in a series of secret missions to take down a fanatical terrorist organization--before it takes you down. Maintain your cover as a covert warrior ... underhanded sabotage ... stealthy assassinations ... full frontal assaults where skill marks the difference between the hunter and the hunted. Welcome to the secret world of the mercenary.

Activision's point-and-shoot game is developed from Robert K. Brown's Soldier of Fortune magazine. Brown helped whip up Cuban exiles against President Kennedy, prior to Kennedy's murder. His magazine was founded with money from British special forces trying to hire American mercenaries to fight in Africa, and later worked to lure separatists and private militia companies into provocations against the Clinton administration.

To protect video-game companies from the inevitable lawsuits, lawyers are often their directors, as Harold A. Brown (no known relation to Robert K. Brown) is for Activision. A partner of Gang, Tyre, Ramer & Brown, lawyer Brown is also executive director of the Entertainment Law Institute at the University of Southern California (USC), a nest of ``New Economy'' mind-destroyers. Last year the U.S. Army announced that it was giving $45 million to USC to set up a virtual reality institute, where private sector designers could work with the military to create more powerful commercial video games and soldier-training materials. The project was hushed up until the Secretary of the Army's Aug. 18, 1999 press conference at USC was leaked to EIR and exposed in our July 2, 1999 issue; the exposé appeared along with Lyndon LaRouche's article, ``Star Wars and Littleton.''

Electronic Arts has paid its chairman, Lawrence F. Probst II, and president, John Riccitiello, many millions in salaries, bonuses, and stock options over the past few years. These men sell children a video game called ``Road Rash,'' in which the player assumes the role of a criminal biker to commit ``aggravated assault,'' ``hit and run driving,'' and ``assault against a police officer.'' The Electronic Arts child customer seeks to help his alter-ego, on the motorcycle, smashing with a club at a policeman who is riding next to him. The child then plots to break the arrested character, named ``Spaz,'' out of jail.

This game is actually certified ``T'' for ``Teen.''

- On the Edge -

Speculators who previously drove up share prices for producers of satanic video games have recently been dumping them, placing these enterprises into a potentially vulnerable position.

The stock of Midway Games has lost more than two-thirds of its market value in the last four months. In December 1999, when the Chicago City Council gave the company a $2 million bribe, Midway's stock traded at about $24 a share. At the close of trading on April 24, the price was $6.19. Acclaim dropped from around $8 a share last October, to $2.66 as of April 24. Activision fell from about $17 a share in February, to $6.56. Electronic Arts is down from about $120 a share in December, to about $53. Hasbro reached over $36 a share a year ago, but had slid to $15.75 by April 24.

In the coming days of turmoil and the withdrawal of their financial base, the weaker among these organizations will be close to collapse. They claim, ``It's not a righteous way of life, but we all have to make a living. Even if it means making a killing.'' Now that their living is threatened, this is a particularly fine time for coordinated citizen action to close them down.

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The preceding article is a rough version of the article that appeared in The Executive Intelligence Review. It is made available here with the permission of The Executive Intelligence Review. Any use of, or quotations from, this article must attribute them to The New Federalist, and The Executive Intelligence Review

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