the secret life of a strategy guide writer / 10

Last time: I witnessed an early iteration of Epic Games’ North Carolina Doombase. This time, I’m where all the beautiful, tanned people go to make it into movies, but end up in waitering jobs; the Santa Monica monolith of Naughty Dog.

Part 10: Going to the Dogs

Naughty Dog’s Offices are plush. They’re in one of the shiniest buildings in an already pretty glaring and tinted part of Los Angeles, in the swish part of Santa Monica, a few blocks from where Hasselhoff let his paunch hang out on Baywatch. The place is teeming with MTV personnel, with their ultra-trendy haircuts that make them look like a half-shorn hedge, hipster jeans, and Borg headsets. That’s because MTV is just around the corner. Naughty Dog takes up a palatial floor or two overlooking a meticulously preened pond and gardens, which is part of a larger office complex that loves their ice-cream socials. But inside the offices, it’s gaming overload. I was sent to capture footage for the Jak-X racing game, and was placed in a small storage closet not unlike the one Milton Waddams sat in during the Office Space basement scene. But no matter; I was in with the Test crowd, and aside from the close-proximity to man-odor, the sense of camaraderie was immense.

When I was allowed outside to feed, the office is open plan, with large monitors, huge windows that could have a fantastic view but are completely closed and stuffed with anti-glare blinds, curtains, drapes, and posters of skulls and crossbones. The executive offices are top-notch affairs, with the usual maple veneer desks, and the guy who used to work on Sonic games showing me his incredible maps. There’s an ultra-cute dog waddling around with an odd breathing problem, too. And let’s not forget the treasure trove of Jak-based schwag, now consigned to glass cases for all eternity. That, and the life-size Jak statue built for when trade shows meant something, makes Naughty Dog a class place to work.

Next time, I get locked in a side corridor in E.A.’s epic Redwood City labyrinth / campus.



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August 2008
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