I am visiting the west coast for two weeks to visit video game friendly places. Where should I go?
April 17, 2012 3:31 PM   Subscribe

I plan to spend 2 weeks in the west coast to one day move there. I am hoping to travel to various cities and explore video game related places. I want to network and talk to people from all video game walks of life, from indie developers to touring game studios. What places should I visit? What studios does tours? I was planning to tour around late June, but should I center it around PAX Prime?
posted by RockyK to Travel & Transportation (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
PAX Prime is a great place to meet lots of different people all at once - especially if you're interested in Seattle, as the local devs always seem to make a particularly great showing there. If I were you I'd definitely make that a high priority - you won't get that kind of networking bang for your buck any other way, and you may meet the people who can set up tours and informational interviews and that sort of thing.

(Please be aware that everyone and their little brother wants to work in video games, so you're going to have to make some connections before people will be willing to spend time on yet another wide-eyed hopeful. I don't know any studios that do regular tours for the public - there are always NDA issues - but it's not totally unheard-of for the community or PR departments to set something up.)
posted by restless_nomad at 4:13 PM on April 17, 2012

The corporate HQ for Activision / Blizzard is in Santa Monica, in Los Angeles.
the address is: 3100 Ocean Park Boulevard Santa Monica, California 90405

I believe you can just walk in and apply for a job there.
I know they hire people at minimum wage to be game testers there.
posted by Flood at 4:36 PM on April 17, 2012

If you are a developer (or an aspiring one) rather than an enthusiast, I'd probably go with GDC over PAX. (caveat: I'm not a game dev, have been to neither).
posted by juv3nal at 4:39 PM on April 17, 2012

...at GDC, there is explicitly a career seminar and a career pavillion.
posted by juv3nal at 4:42 PM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

Thanks! I am actually a teaching artist/single indie developer. I just recently enrolled into my local IGDA chapter (Philly Chapter) and waiting for their next game jam so I can do some nextworking with them.

I'll probably have to pass on GDC 2013 since it's in March, and I'm looking to travel during the summer and make my move during the early Spring.
posted by RockyK at 4:44 PM on April 17, 2012

I don't know if this is exactly what you're looking for, but you did say "video game related places" so...
A friend of mine helped helped create the Museum of Art and Digital Entertainment (MADE) in Oakland. It's mostly focused around video games and they have a lot of events and classes and lectures and such. (Sorry that isn't more specific, I'm not very into video games myself).
posted by primalux at 5:13 PM on April 17, 2012

PAX is a pretty good option for getting close to developers as far as trade shows go. In particular, check out the local studios - they are most likely to be run by local devs rather than PR/community people, and not jetlagged/overwhelmed. Be friendly and you can get away with hanging out longer to chat at the less popular/smaller booths (never monopolize time if they need to get work done, but sometimes it can be really boring on that side of the table if nothing's happening).

Very few companies do tours due to security concerns from unannounced projects/consoles/NDAs. There's no harm in emailing or calling to find out, though, and if there's a group tour already scheduled you could piggy back on one of those if the timing's right. The coolest studios I've ever visited were Valve (Seattle) and Three Rings (San Francisco). Digipen (in Seattle) does tours, even if you aren't a student, but it's out of the way if you're there for PAX. I'm sure USC in LA does the same.

There are IGDA chapters in all the major cities. You could ask their mailing lists or write on their facebook walls to see if anyone knows a studio that would be open to doing a tour, or any game dev related events or places to check out.

(Tip for networking: if you find a friendly developer, do get their business card and inquire if they'd be open to answering more questions later via email.)
posted by subject_verb_remainder at 5:55 PM on April 17, 2012

If you're in Seattle for pax, you should definitely attend Pax Dev for the two days beforehand (assuming they do it again). http://dev.paxsite.com/
posted by jacalata at 9:19 PM on April 17, 2012

I never knew about PAX Dev! I checked their website and looks like they're still in 2011. I'm guessing I'll have to wait until they start selling 2012 tickets then.

I will definitely check out all the IGDA chapters' and ask around. I definitely want to tour as many studios as I can, just because I think they're interesting!
posted by RockyK at 10:35 AM on April 18, 2012

In addition to PAX, there's a few conferences in the SF and LA that are important industry events: MobileBeat in July and E3 in June. E3 is pretty expensive and I think you may have to show industry credentials to acquire a ticket but many of the major studios plan events around the official conference that are worthwhile. SF has EA and other major publishers/studios, not to mention scores of social gaming and mobile gaming startups. You can read up on industry news here to find companies you might be interested in.
posted by hampanda at 1:07 PM on April 18, 2012

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