The week of E3, I had the pleasure of visiting Blizzard Entertainment and touring its new, state-of-the-art campus in Irvine, California.
The first thing that struck me about the place was the premium placed on security. Not only did I have to show my photo ID to the guards, but I had to sign a nifty non-disclosure agreement before I was even allowed into any of the buildings. I wasn't allowed into any of the studios or development areas where work on Diablo 3 or StarCraft 2 were being created, so I'm not sure why I even had to sign one, but I'm sure the company just wanted to cover all of its bases.
The front lobby was quite impressive. While guests wait to see whomever it is they are waiting for, they are free to peruse binders full of Blizzard fan mail. There's also a nifty museum off to the left of the reception desk where you can check out a sizeable trophy case as well as a nifty exhibit centered around the South Park episode, "Make Love, Not Warcraft."
The middle of the campus was dominated by a gigantic statue of an Orc riding a fearsome mount, and I was told each employee got a miniature replica of the piece as a gift. A nice moat was being installed around the base of the statue, so it was very much a "courtyard-in-progress."
The company cafeteria was cool, with murals depicting dwarves imbibing their tankards of ale. Artwork from the StarCraft universe seemed to be hung all over the place, and mannequins dressed in WarCraft garb silently watched the hallways and the comings and goings of the company's many employees.
One of the neat things I learned about the company was that it bestowed swords to employees on their 5 year anniversary. If an employee puts in ten, he or she earns a shield. Employees are also welcome to use a beautiful gym complete with weights, treadmills and excercise bikes.
I didn't see more than that, but it truly was an incredible place and it was hard to believe I was standing in the place where amazing games are thought of and created. It was apparent that all the employees were some of the industry's brightest minds, putting in tons of hours each week in order to meet deadlines and milestones.
I guess if you want to work at Blizzard, prepare to devote some serious time. The pluses however are great, it truly seemed like an amazing place to work.