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Chafee's Responsibility

Curt Schilling, in his interview with the Providence Journal, suggests Governor Lincoln Chafee was acting irresponsibly when he publicly declared that the state was working to keep 38 Studios "solvent" and later said the company's first game was an "abject failure."

He also attacks Chafee for revealing two of the company's closely held secrets - that it was spending $4 million per month and that its next game, code-named Project Copernicus, wasn't scheduled for release until June 2013.

The comments, Schilling says, spooked private investors on the brink of making deals with 38 Studios. And they also amounted to a broken pledge, he suggests: Chafee, whatever his misgivings about the original deal that brought the video game company to Rhode Island, had promised to be the firm's biggest cheerleader once he took office.

Scott MacKay. over at Rhode Island Public Radio, took Schilling to task today for blaming Chafee for his company's problems. And he argued that the ex-Sox pitcher has little understanding for the governor's responsibility to keep the public informed - especially when millions of taxpayer dollars are at stake.

Scott makes a lot of good points. But I don't think Schilling is entirely off base, here.

Transparency, after all, is not the governor's only responsibility. The state clearly has an interest in keeping 38 Studios afloat. And surely the governor could have kept the public informed without labeling the company's "Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning" an "abject failure" - a claim that seems a bit overblown, anyhow, considering gamers bought more than 1 million copies in the first 90 days.

Of course, Schilling's suggestion that private investors pulled out because of Chafee's comments seems overblown, too: surely, sophisticated businessmen didn't make their decisions based solely on what a politician, with skin in the game, said about the company.

But did Chafee's comments make 38 Studios bid to stay afloat more difficult? Maybe.

The governor has received high marks, on the whole, for his handling of the 38 Studios debacle. And his public comments, however uncomfortable for 38 Studios, undoubtedly informed the public debate in important ways. The fact that the Project Copernicus game wasn't scheduled for release until June 2013 was a useful data point.

But Schilling's call for a bit more tact is not entirely out of line.

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