Friday, December 3, 2010

San Francisco Auto-Show 2010

Some of the cooler looking rides at the Moscone Convention Center

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Sunday, November 21, 2010

Cholula's Hot Sauce Review

On Thursday night, there was a thick fog lay out across the San Francisco Bay and with only Cholula Hot Sauces to keep warm. From Cholula’s Original Sauce to Chili-Garlic, Chili-Lime and Chipotle, each flavor offers a great bold taste without sacrificing the original flavor. The calm night called for savory treats in the form of deep fried taquitos to be topped off with Cholula’s powerful sauces.

Cholula’s Original sauce offers a spicy taste that goes well with taquitos, popcorn and other savory appetizers and dishes. The original sauce is clearly a fan favorite, as the dinner party left a close to empty bottle by the end of the night. The charm of the original sauce is the spicy, but not too hot flavors. Chips, popcorn, tacos all can use the flavorful spice of Cholula’s best sauce.

Cholula’s Chili-Lime sauce was the second sought after bottle of the night. The citrus flavor bursts in each drop of sauce. Great with chicken, or pork sided with vegetables but can be easily be edible paired with fruits -- apples, mangoes and a jicama salad is a must try with Chili-Lime sauce!

The remaining two sauces, Chipotle and Chili Garlic, are two distinctive flavors remarkably different than the others. Cholula’s Chipotle sauce is strong, musky and smoky taste that paired remarkably well wit the chicken taquitos. The Chipotle’s smoky taste may be too much for some eaters, but perfect for chickens wings and pork ribs. Cholula’s Chili-Garlic is, unfortunately, a garlic lovers dream. Unlike the other Cholula’s sauces, use the Chili-Garlic sparingly as the taste goes a long way which may not be a negative on how much one loves their garlic.

Overall, Cholula’s brand is a bit stronger with their newer flavors. Combined with any of you favorite comfort foods, Cholula is guaranteed to add a little of spice to all of your taste buds.

Friday, November 19, 2010

SF Auto Show Range Rover

Daily updates and photos of San Francisco Auto Show

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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Lucha Libre AAA: Héroes del Ring Review

When I first heard about a lucha libre wrestling/fighting game, with a Mexican publisher and Latin American developers, I was estatic. Growing up Latino in the US during the 1980s is a mirror of racial harmony and backlash. As a young kid, I wanted to fit in with the kids in school, but not made fun of the food I ate at lunch. Young latin kids, to this day, must find a balance between this dualness or veilness. Because of the aforementioned ideas, Lucha Libre AAA is a very important IP to the young latin kids the game will undoubtedly be marketed to.

The company, Slang, who is behind Lucha Libre AAA is based out of Mexico City and has been in the video game distribution business for countless of years in Latin America. An interview with myself and Federico Beyer of Slang, detailing their motivations is hosted on bitmob. Lucha Libre AAA has enough features to hold its targeted audience of adolescent boys and young men who are into the wrestling and fighting genre, but the game has key critical flaws.
One of the core features is the build your character. While other games like UFC and Fight Night, only feature certain subset of physique options. In Lucha Libre AAA having the option to build costumes and masks, hours could be spent alone in creating ones character. The options continued with a customizable ring-set of moves. While wrestling moves seem similiar, there are unique moves to Lucha Libre like La Hurucana and La Campana.

The story mode campaign, which must be played to unlock wrestlers, are actually two. One side you play as a technico or as rudo. As one progresses, the technicos are the heros and the rudos are the heels. The game awards players with star-points (move sets are based on reward points labeled as stars) all leading up to a finishing move. As a tecnico, fairness and highflying moves get extra points, whereas a rudo, gets awarded points for fighting dirty and outside the ring.

The culmination of winning matches, with your custom wrestler, is the historical/documentary style video of Lucha Libre. These vidoes show the beginning of Lucha Libre in Mexico, the Super Campeonato and the dynasties of Mexican luchador families. The hometown heroes, as my mother is from La Cormaca Lagunera, is the Wagner Family; Dr Wagner, Dr Wagner Jr and Silver King.

It is also interesting, but not relevant to the review, Silver King played as Ramses in Nacho Libre and recently, change his name to Silver Cain. Dr Wagner Jr, recently has a feud with his brother Silver Cain, with Cain showing a video of their deceased father claiming Cain is the better wrestler. Drama.

Lucha Libre AAA does indeed have its flaws. Besides the miniscule glitches; sound going off and on, long loading and multiple screens between fights. There are two issues that plagues the game. First, the difficulty level balance. Easy is too easy and Normal is ridicously hard. While playing on Normal, the AI countered every move, and while knocked down on the canvas, repeatedly pressing X to get up was tiring and frustrating. On Easy, the notch of difficulty was as simple as a few body slams, and then the finishing move all within a quick minute. For future iterations, there must be a better balance between the difficulty levels.

The second issue was the relaince on the counter move, where counters are super important in Dead or Alive and other fighting games, in Lucha Libre the counter relies on a time press of the L1 Button. Too early or too late, your wreslter gets hit. But when one becomes the master of the counter, the later stages of the story mode the game becomes a one button-fest. And with the later stages reling solely on countering, frustation starts to set in as the timing seem to be off at times. Forget in trying to attack the AI, as the computer controlled wrestler will counter every move.

Lucha Libre is a good game, even with ill timed game-breaking flaws, the highlights outweigh them. The wrestling and fighting genre is thick marketplace, but Lucha Libre AAA has enough quality attributes to give a chance on. For Latinos living in the US, with enough support, we may see Slang try for an encore American release in the near future.
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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Video Game Law, Manga, the Taliban and Nazis

As the November Supreme Court date looms, the video game law is much of a hot topic. As all of you may know, California State Senator Leland Lee Phd authored the controversial law with Attorney General Brown and Governor Arnold Schwarznegger appealing the a lower court's decision. While researching news articles, videogame and entertainment outlets have deemed the law an infringement of free spech. And giving the law no chance in winning its' appeal at the Supreme Court. We are wrong, very wrong.

First and foremost, a few Westernized countries have become more and more consevative over time. We all know about the Internet censorship in China, North Korea, Iran and Cuba, but did you know the US, Australia and the UK all partake in their form of censorship? From the creation of free speech zones in the US, a draconian Austrialian Classification Board and the UK's Coroners and Justice Act 2009 are examples of such means to protect its' citizens. The United States has a similiar law as the United Kingdom with the PROTECT Act. Ask American Manga collector Christopher Handley who was sentenced to 6 years of prison for importing lolicon and yaoi Manga from Japan.

My keen eye readers are to notice that there is a key difference between Leland Lee's Law and the PROTECT Act, one is set to protect children from violence rather child pornography. And I agree, the material is rather different, yet the process of censorship is the same, elected officials are dead set to protect America's children with the all for nothing blanket of protection.

Pornography (even if the material of under age sex as drawn a la The Lost Girls) came first and now violence is next. Where does it stop? Why dont we start to, in a effort to fight child obesity, fine fast food joints who offer a toy in their meal without offering a healthy food? That law exists in one county. Yet school yard bullying continues in the LBGT community, anchor babies are under fire and education in the US continues to be understaffed and underbudgeted. The hypocrasy is thick with American elected officials.

The law may be very well upheld, even after all the legal mumbo jumbo, in the eyes of the Supreme Court they will protect the children from violent images and content, just like they do with child pornography. They might argue brain maturation or how violence does indeed affect children after researching countless of medical studies that hardly make any sense. More mumbo jumbo. Or they might just upheld the previous rulings, striking down the law and say it is a Federal duty to protect the children or something to that effect.

Maybe the Supreme Court Justices will ammend the PROTECT Act and include violent images too. Especially if violent images are brutal, henious, atrocious or cruel, because anyone with a law degree can tell difference. Hopefully, we can start to protect our children from brutal violent movies too. Let's start with California Governor's Terminator movie. After watching the movie as a child, I was compelled to vote for him, too scared to think of the consenquences if I had voted democrat. When the video game law does get upheld, and lets just say it does, other entertainment mediums alike; film, music and comic books may come under fire.

The comic book industry has suffered these attacks as well. The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (think the ACLU of comics) have come to aid of defendants when proscecutors have encroached into the First Amendment Rights of creators, retailers and consumers. CBLDF even filed a brief on behalf of the ESA, saying the law to the LA Times "would undermine more First Amendmeny principles in a single case that any decision in living memory." The line between art and a consumer good are being blurred.

There is much discussion on the definition of video-games, which are popular with all ages, a consumer product or have artistic merit like a novel or a movie. The argument is, video-games, in the creation and marketing process, have more in common with a bar of soap than a comic book.

Regardless, the decision may be handed to Americans by the Supreme Court in the the ruling of Scharznegger v ECA, which is a scary thought.
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Monday, October 4, 2010

A Halo History

When Halo: Reach begins, the sense of death and wonder becomes an ominous and lingering feeling from chapter to chapter as the player progresses on. The opening cinematics show a bullet-holed Spartan helmet lay on a war torn terrain. In previous Halo games, we have seen key characters die, Marines killed by Convenant and Flood forces, but never came across a dead Spartan.

Halo: Reach is not your fathers' Halo.

The story of the Reach and the trilogy of Halo reads as a Greek epic. (Please be warn, I have not dabbled in any of the Halo Novels, yet played all of the four Halos and ODST). And the Halo series is sprinkled with Greek and other popular epic-space fantasy references though the series. Spartans, Noble Team's last stand and Master Chief's sacrifice all read as Herodotus' Histories. The Halo series is faithful to the Greek War than the fantastical God of War series is to the mythology of the Greek Gods.

In Herodotus' work, he details the battle of Thermopylae and in larger extent, The Greco-Persian Wars. The Halo series may not go as expansive as Herodotus did in his writings, but the team at Bungie invoke a grand story for their Spartans, the fall and last stand on planet Reach, origin of Master Chief and the eventual triumph of the Convenant invasion. The Greeks, impartially told by Herodotus, went through similar situations.

The better fantasy stories relate to humanity and it's struggles. In Halo, with all its monsters, hiveminds and artificial intelligence the story of Noble Team, ODST and Master Chief share the human idea of hope. And it is with this idea—the Halo series is Bungie's greater works.
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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Six Video Game Titles to Budget for Holiday release

From Halo: Reach to Gran Turismo, there are six must have video games titles that I have to buy from today till the end of the year. Some are blockbusters to sport franchises, on console or the PC. Many of the games sport a higher sticker price bundle as limited editions.

With rent and responsibilities always nipping on my conscious-ear, I will not be able to afford the steep, and before taxes, $400. These six games will either leave you homeless, single or dieing of hunger. Which games will not make your cart and stay on your wish list?

Halo: Reach
Chances are the Halo Series is this generations Star Wars, a fanatical following, a space opera and a prequel to boot. Halo Reach is a must have for multiple reasons, Bungie's last console exclusive, their last Halo title, and and a brand new multiplayer (checkout bitmobs game night.)

Civilisation 5
A PC exclusive for many many years, Civ 5 is another much anticipated game (out today). Take the role of any civilization and lead them to world dominance. With Starcraft 2, Civ 5 leads the PC pack.

Donkey Kong Country Returns
One of the elders when it comes to video game characters — Donkey Kong is back in a brand new adventure with Diddy in tow. Thanks to the highly successful New Super Mario Bros Wii, Donkey Kong Returns is the successor of the popular Nintendo 64 series (Mario and Donkey the original duo before Shrek and ... Donkey).

Medal of Honor
Before there was Halo, Call of Duty and Gears of War, there was this World War 2 genre, ripped from Hollywood, Medal of Honor. The landing and storming of Normandy Beach was done by this series, it's present form takes on the now controversial American War against the Taliban. Ripe with furor, Gamestop, pressured by the Military, pulled the game off shelves, essentially banning the sells on American bases.

Call of Duty Black Ops
Shooters, shooters and more shooters. Lets face it, shooters are the bread and butter of the video game industry. With all the turmoil surrounding Activision, and dissolving of Infinity Ward, Black Ops creators Treyarch have a mountain to climb. Not only is Modern Warfare 2 doing so well on XBL (Sony PSN doesn't release details) and their map pack selling well on Steam, Bungie now flys under the Activision banner.

Gran Turismo 5
With NASCAR, World Rally Championship and Super GT licenses—Polyphony Digital's Grand Turismo is an incomparable driving-sim beast. With five years separating GT 4 and GT 5, will Sony's crown jewel shine in the holiday season? One thing for sure, racing genre has not been the same without GT.
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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Machete Review: A Long, Hard and Cold Federale

Robert Rodriguez latest movie, based on a trailer created for The Grindhouse cinema, Machete is a bloody-revenge filled adventure. The story takes place in the state-capitol Texas, which goes unnamed, where a day laborer is thrown into a mixture of politics, corruption, and law. Machete quickly realizes that the state of law and order in the United States of America is just as corrupted as the United States of Mexico.

Aided by a conflicted ICE agent Jessica Alba, an aspiring revolutionary in Michelle Rodriguez and a Father-Priest-Brother in Cheech Marin -- Danny Trujo's Machete plays a one-liner dealer of death and vengeance. There is an a unique underlying context that Robert Rodriguez bashes throughout the movie when a subtle approach would be ineffective. It is as the director/creator wants to convey a great message but limits himself to his own art. Machete doesn't differ too much from Rodriguez's previous works, as El Mariachi, Desperado, Once Upon a Time in Mexico and Planet Terror, all share similar film qualities.

There is a strong conviction for an argument that if Robert Rodriguez were to take the subject matter in a differing approach, Machete could be his Departed -- a movie of betrayals, violence and honor. The topics are on the forefront with Arizona's controversial immigration law, the never-ending drug war violence in Mexican border cities and the cultural conflicts at home (role of the Church, Mexican-Americans, etcetera). These topics were handled in a campy manner.

And it is these topics, the film moves away from halfway through the plot, only to catwalk these characters. "Look at the cool conflicted character I just made." A pseudo-Border Promises with the film only to tie a picture perfect ending. But do not confuse the character Machete as a misanthrope, he ultimately seeks to do right at the belief that evil must not reign. Leaving the viewer satisfied, but left wondering when will a director handle these topics much seriously.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Madden and Me

With the NFL heading to to season kickoff, gamers are booting up the latest football video game, EA Sports Madden NFL 11. With updated rosters, a new play-call system and an extensive multiplayer mode, Madden promises to be the best one yet, however, the game is inherently broken and unplayable. How?

There is no save function for half played matches. With consumers age expanding, having a shorter and shorter play sessions, the ability not to save a match in progress is video-game blasphemy.

I have played Madden since the Sega Genesis, where my older cousins played each match for quarters. I am not the greatest one on one players, but I enjoy the franchise mode of comp stomp with my fantasy draft of stars.

The problem, as I grow older in age, I have less time to play and progress. In the past week, I had to quit three games in Franchise mode, Raiders v Seahawks, because either; my two dogs daily walk, time with my significant other and gym. In general, life would interrupt all of my Raider games (yes I roll Silver and Black.)

The only solutions was to either leave my PS3 on or have the ability to save a match mid-way. Leaving the PS3 on, as it hums like a gatling gun, provided to be useless, as the playstation is dedicated to be the entertainment provider of the household. Movies became unplayable, background downloading in limbo, as my PS3 became dedicated to saving a half finished game.

The functionality of saving a match is really a common cornerstone video-games. PC gaming has had the feature for years, from first person shooters, RPGs and Real Time Strategy games. Why does Sports games have to be behind the curve? Espcially in sport games like Football and Baseball, where the clock stops on certain plays or the game ends until there is a winner. My Madden games were lasting 40 minutes or longer, whereas FIFA matches last eight to ten minutes! The discrpency betweem games are huge.

So life continues to get in the way of my Madden matches, as Raiders v Seahawks has became a never ending nightmare of replays, and try again. For EA Sports, it is a feature worth implementing, as your audiences continues to grow. That, or suffer sleeping on the couch with on eye open on the lookout of a disgruntled wife for the rest of my adult life. How do you think I managed to get to week four in pre-season?
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Friday, August 20, 2010

Mass Appeal in Video-games

With my thirtyish birthday nearing, I came to the realization of having consumed video-games more than any other entertainment medium. Regardless, video-games struggle for mass appeal has lead to a damaged reputation. Video games has lost it's art form.

Art, not in the Ebert sense of the word, but as a distinctive artistic form. My main issue with video-games, as developers push for a universal medium, games lose their distinctiveness. How so?

Walk into any video-game store, can you name the difference between two off the shelf shooters? How many titles feature bald space marines as the main protagonist?

Limbo is a video game that should influence other developers look at their respective genre. Playdead Studios took staple video game mechanics, some a given in their respective format and choose to be unique vis-à-vis another Super Mario rehash or clone.

With the early buzz on Tomb Raider Guardian of Light; there is hope that developers are starting to think outside of their comfort zone of established franchises.

The medium craves it.

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Friday, August 13, 2010

Irrational's Ken Levine on Bioshock Infinite

With the announcement of Bioshock Infinite, Irrational Studios head hit-man, Ken Levine sat down with the press to be peppered with mundane questions. But he also released a statement on Irrational's Website to the rest of us. With his State of Union address, gamers are clamoring for more information, but here is an editorial that the rest of the gaming media is igrnoing. Bioshock Infinite is changing how we think big-budget sequels are made.
Is Bioshock Infinite a prequel? Star Wars like prequel? Or is it only loosely based in the Bioshock-verse?

Levine is clear, there are no sacred cows in Bioshock Infinite (the sky is the limit). Viewing the trailer there is a sense of American expansionism (a la Red Dead Redemption), a Manifest Destiny of sky, before the invetible space-race. A floating sky city by the famed American ingenuity, a city that could of been built if a Rockefellar had of thought of it first. Columbia, as the sky city is named after one of the famous explorer known, is a departure of Rapture. As Levine points out, "that's the easy path for us... we took a harder path for ourselves."

Levine paints BI as a departure from their highly rated 2007 splicer-thriller Bioshock. The only core values that these titles share are the obvious; a fantastical world created by the same Irrational team. And there is no confusion on the Levine's view of American 1900 Historcity, nationalism and internationalism are key themes in the game. These ideas are not ones would link to a sequel or a prequel to milti-million sold series.

Levine is adamant on Infinite is more of a "re-imagining" of the original Bioshock, building on ideas of their precedent game and exploring the world artistically and questioning the bigger, badder and better philosophy other game series fall into. With that in mind, Bioshock Infinite swoops in our space with breath of fresh air.


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Chivas on the cusp of Futbol History

Hours away on what is expected to be a dramatic showdown between two futbol giants of North and South America. Chivas de Guadalajara hosts, in their French designed Omnilife Stadium, 2006s Copa Libertadores Champion Internacional of Brasil. Both teams come from grueling matches, with Chivas scoring two away goals again U de Chile. Inter faced a strong Sao Paolo side, but again, the away goal scored by Inter sealed their fate into the final.

Not at stake for tonight's match is the World Club Cup birth held in the UAE in December. Inter will go as the South American representative regardless of the outcome. Tune in to Fox Sports Espanol, match starts at 8:00 PM EST.
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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

I'm Back

The one and only Latino-Gamer is back. If you want the end all coverage of sports and video games, go elsewhere. Latino Gamer will cover interesting trends in football/ soccer and a bit of video games.

Since this blog is the whim of thoughts of the writer, topics may be daily or weekly.

Tomorrow we have coverage of the friendly, Mexico vs Spain and the first leg of Chivas de Guadalajara vs Internacional.


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Friday, June 11, 2010

FIFA World Cup 2010 South Africa Group A Preview

Group A in the FIFA World Cup South Africa is one filled with interesting opponents; the host nation coached by a former champion, a nation with help of a lucky handball and lost without their talisman, a young-fiesty nation looking to build from their youth championship and a nation struggles with their past glory.
First, the Bafana Bafana as they are called by their fans, the host nation South Africa is lead by one of two men who has coached Five different nations in the World Cup. Parreira's sixth World Cup, as he coached Brazil twice, is faced with the prospect of a possible elimination during the group stage. But the fans of the Bafana Bafana are not to worry, with home-field advantage, wisdom of a winning coach and the luck of the home nation, getting to the group stage is far from a dream.
But they must face the stiff competition, although in poor form at the moment, of Les Bleus or the French National Team. No one can argue the deep heritage of great football of France. Platini and Zidane are walking legends, but that is the core of the problem, their best players are retired and with no one to fill the void left. With poor form during qualification, Serbia won the group, France faced a give-no-inch Irish team on a playoff. At the end of it all, the French stole the World Cup birth by a blown non-called Henry handball. The French team are cursed to be ousted within group round and without a talisman to ward the bad mojo away.
For the Mexican community, the 2005 Youth World Cup victory was the rally cry for the youth to push the once-chiseled stalwarts to move on, and they have. Donning a black jersey, a rarity of Mexican soccer, the team has the swagger, the speed and the leadership in their coach Aguirre. A team mix with veterans, but fueled by youth, Mexico is one of my surprise tickets to make a semifinal birth, a la Bulgaria in '94, '98 Croatia, Turkey and South Korea in '02. If El Tri does well in the tournament, the black jersey may become the form rather the colors of the flag (See Italy).

The Uruguayans are the older cousins no one remembers about in South American Football. Them with Ecuador, Venezuela, Peru, Bolivia and Columbia all seem to battle for the final birth. And battle they did, although Argentina had to beat Uruguay for the fourth spot, it was the Uruguayans who fought Costa Rica tooth and nail for the World Cup birth. La Celeste will need a goals, and lots of them, if they are to dream of their past glory.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Assassin's Creed 2 Hispanic Market Campaign

According to a report, Ubisoft and Univision partnered up for an Assassin's Creed 2 marketing blitz during the festive holiday week. The ads will be shown through Deportes and Liga Mexicana digital portal landing page and the televised quarterfinal playoffs of the Mexican Soccer League. David Lawenda, president of Advertising and Sales of Univision, details the campaign as a "business imperative to market to Hispanics... one of the fastest growing segments of the U.S. population." The announcement also includes statistical data of the Hispanic market, more than 80% of Hispanics between the ages 18-44 are gamers, and half of the said Hispanic gamers are Spanish speaking or bilingual. Ubisoft widely reported a 1.6 million first week of sales and surpassed the 2007 predecessor. (I land in both categories, as well as, over indexing in buying new gadgets, and less price sensitive than non-Hispanics. )

Will Ubisoft's Hispanic blitz be the swing vote in increasing November's NPD numbers for the coveted number 2 spot, behind Modern Warfare 2. For context, the only other video game to advertise for Spanish networks was EA's FIFA 10. AC2 and FIFA 10 both come in the Spanish language.

Singstar Latino info right here....

Sony and Gamestop announced today that, select Gamestop stores are releasing the Hispanic focused SingStar Latino for the PS3 and PS2 consoles. Popular Spanish speaking stations are to promote release events in core Hispanic markets in California, Texas, and Arizone. SingStar is one of Sony’s popular music franchises that does surprisingly well outside of the United States Market. Earlier in November, Sony released the game to Latino markets in Mexico and select Latin American markets. Musical hits are from select artists from Paulina Rubio (pictured) to Oreja de van Gogh.

Will Activision and EA/MTV put a tailored Latino/Hispanic product in the next year, as Sony is testing the water, who else will jump in. Ubisoft earlier courted the Hispanic market with a partnership with Univision with Assassin’s Creed 2 promos running during the Mexican soccer playoff games.

A Guitar Hero: Paulina Rubio video game would make my thirty-nine Guadalajaran friend freak in his pants.

Tiger Woods and EA Sports dire relationship

In a study released today by two UC Davis Economic Professors, Christopher R. Knittel and Victor Stango, detail the 5 to 15 billion loss Tiger Wood's sponsors suffered ten days after the now infamous November 27th incident. The report can be found here in PDF form. I have included a graph from the linked report below.

The 10 day cumulative decline by the sport related sponsors of EA, Gatorade and Nike saw a 4.3% decline or a 5.71 billion loss. Much money loss for all those "transgressions" and will shareholders continue to support any future endorsements that involve Tiger Woods? Evidently, there is a downside to a sponsors' celebrity spoke person in the video game industry. Will EA Sports continue to have Tiger Woods as a spoke person, or drop the golfer, and use a rotating cast of PGA members, as they do with their FIFA, Madden and their other sports series?

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