On Thursday, April 19, I had the very fortunate opportunity to visit the Activision Inc.Headquarters in Santa Monica, CA. For those who don’t know, Activision is a video game company, creating the successful Tony Hawk game series and the immensely successful Guitar Hero series. They’re also the creator of the recent string of Spider-Man licensed games, both the movie series and 2005’s Ultimate Spider-Man. Due to the nature of my trip (a Spider-Man contest), my focus at the studios was to play the upcoming Spider-Man 3 video game, being released for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 2 & 3, Nintendo Wii, DS, & GBA, and PC platforms. I arrived at the studios at 9:15 AM. Framed posters for Tony Hawk’s Underground, an X-Men game poster, and Marvel: Ultimate Alliance decorated the silver-themed lobby. Through one of the doorways, a massive DOOM sign conquered a wall. After a few moments of gawking, I met with Michael Steiner, Associate Brand Manager for the Spider-Man 3 game, and intern Ian Brillembourg.
I was then taken to the Press Room, where a developer kit Xbox 360 and a Wii stood waiting, along with two high-definition televisions. Needless to say, my excitement at the time was shooting through the roof. My day was planned inside the room: bagels, gaming, meet & greet with a few of the developers, gaming, lunch, and-you guessed it-more gaming. My gaming started on the Xbox 360, which is what I’m most familiar with. Associate Producer Will Townsend walked in around 9:45. Mr. Townsend’sprimary focus on the project was on the next-generation consoles (Xbox 360 andPlayStation 3), so clearly he was there to talk me through the game and show me multiple elements of it. Along with Mr. Townsend, I met Amy Longhi, Brand Manager for the game. After about 2 hours of gameplay, I was treated to a more-than- delicious lunch from In-N-Out Burger. Being a Southern Californian, there could have been no better lunch.
Interestingly enough, Mr. Townsend’s brother-in-law is a St. John’s graduate. Amongstinteresting discussions ranging from “riding the short bus” to Capybaras being considered fish so their meat can be eaten during Lent (we video gamers can be an interesting bunch), I was shown pictures from the Tokyo premiere of the Spider-Man 3 film.My Wii experiences came post-lunch. Because of the Wii’s motion-sensor remote/nunchuck, the feeling of being Spider-Man was more prevalent than on theXbox 360. Talking me through the Wii section was Production Coordinator Matthew Hunt. As many gamers know, the Wii is graphically limited, but the game was still incredibly fun with the motion sensors.
I was then given the grand tour of the studios at approximately 2:00 PM. There werestandard offices…except for the numerous game posters, beanbag areas, game consoles on desks, an abundance of televisions, and other game related products. The attitude was very upbeat despite being busy; definitely a gamer’s dream office.
Two of the most interesting items in the offices were the half-pipe couch in the TonyHawk section and the Spider- Man statue near the elevators- unfortunately, I am picture-less. I also had the opportunity to see and hear about some very exclusive news. Of course, I was sworn to secrecy, which I will uphold.
After being presented with a (Spider-Man creator) Stan Lee autographed poster, I was sent on my way. An overall great day and a great look into how a game studio goes about its days.