We all know hardcore gamers can survive on a steady diet of Cheetos and Mountain Dew. At least that’s the stereotype. But what about the developers? Do they eat the same stuff? Or are their diets much more refined than those of the stereotypical gamer? As a Prima author I’ve had the unique opportunity to visit several major development studios and share a few meals with the creative minds behind the games we all love. All companies I’ve visited strive to keep their employees happy…and on-site. One way to do that is to ensure there’s plenty of good food nearby, usually in an office-based cafeteria. Over the next few weeks I’ll detail my visits and report on what kind of culinary options developers have at their disposal. So let’s get started! Our first stop: EA.
Where: Electronic Arts (Redwood Shores) in Redwood City, California.
Why I was there: I made my first journey to EARS in early 2005 when I was prepping material for the Battlefield 2 guide. After getting a brief hands-on glimpse at the game (that already had me salivating), my contact (Darren Montgomery) asked me if I wanted to grab some lunch at the cafeteria. While I would have preferred blowing up stuff with the rocket launcher and C4, I felt it proper to take him up on his gracious offer. Plus, this would be a great opportunity to purge my mind of game-related questions that were quickly filling my skull.
The Facility: A palace-sized cafeteria in the center of the EARS campus with ceiling-high windows lining (at least) one wall. Even when it’s cloudy outside, the natural lighting pouring through the windows gives the whole dining area an open and airy feel; kinda like being on a (corporate) picnic while indoors. Adequately comfortable tables and chairs are plentiful in the dining area. I wouldn’t want to spend too long in those chairs, but I guess that’s the point. Despite being surrounded by glass, steel and tile, the noise levels are surprisingly minimal, making conversation easy.
The Food: The selection provided can be a bit intimidating for a newbie. There’s the usual grill-as-you-order fare as well as some Asian dishes, soups, salads, and even seafood; apparently the salmon is a favorite. Undoubtedly they provide more menu items than I can recall, but I eventually settled on a cheesesteak sandwich from the grill, served with fries and a soft drink, ringing up at around $5. Overall, it was a good lunch, but I definitely spent more time asking Darren questions about Battlefield 2 than I did analyzing the food.
Alternatives: Like most bay area comminutes, Redwood City offers a wide variety of restaurants ranging from fine dining to fast food. The latter is available in spades at a couple of nearby strip malls less than a mile from EA. But if you’re simply looking for a quick bite to eat, there’s little reason to travel off-campus given the variety, quality, and value offered by EA’s cafeteria. If the employees eat there, it must be good. And many of them do everyday, sometimes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Next week: Ubisoft Montreal