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Gov. Gary Herbert was sent to jail Wednesday. It wasn't for malfeasance in office but for electronic-game malfeasance.
Herbert got to play a new game being sent to market this fall by the Salt Lake City office of Electronic Arts, one of the biggest electronic game-makers in the world. Herbert test drove Monopoly Streets before he helped cut the ribbon that officially opened the company's new downtown offices.
The developers inserted a "Governor Herbert" player that looked like the state's chief executive into the game so he could manipulate the character on a big screen TV set up in the offices at 324 S. State St.
Things didn't go well.
"Governor Herbert rolled three doubles in a row. Go to jail," said the game as the governor expressed exasperation and quit for a tour of the facility.
The offices that will house about 100 employees were moved to Salt Lake City from Bountiful where they had been for more than a decade. The Salt Lake City offices of the California-based company concentrate on producing electronic versions of Hasbro products as part of a strategic relationship between the two.
The move was a coup for downtown Salt Lake City, which also is seeing the local office of Goldman Sachs move from its present Research Park location to 222 S. Main St.
Jon Dean, executive producer for Electronic Arts and head of the Salt Lake City office, said the downtown location helps the company attract new talent. He cited the availability of coffee shops, restaurants and TRAX light rail, including a line being constructed to the airport.
The company also hopes its presence will serve as a catalyst to attract more companies and electronic game talent to the area, he said, pointing out game producers have larger sales than the music and movie industries.
While Utah has a core of game-makers here, plus a pool of talent, a good lifestyle, strong universities and a business-friendly atmosphere, it lacks tax incentives aimed specifically at the electronic game industry, said Dean.
"Right now there are tax incentives available in Utah, but they're not designed for the games industry," he said. "Other states, like Texas or Florida or even the provinces of Canada, have tax incentives that are specifically aimed at developing the games industry there."
Herbert, who is running for election this fall, before the ribbon cutting repeated Republican mantras about lowering taxes to help businesses grow and produce jobs. He contrasted that to California.
"We're going in the right direction," he said.
While Herbert said the Electronic Arts' new office could grow to 200 employees, Dean said there were no immediate plans to expand.
Electronic Arts expanded into Utah in 2006 when it bought out Headgate Studios. Headgate was founded in 1992 in Bountiful as a business-productivity software company that later branched out into electronic games.
The Utah office is releasing three new games this fall, including Monopoly Streets, Littlest Pet Shop and Nerf. Office head Jon Dean said his operation is trying to expand the appeal of electronic games from boys and young men to girls and families.