On Friday September 19th, I was one of 16 people who were invited to EA in Redwood, California to attend the EA Blogger’s Day event. I was fortunate to attend the Blogger’s Day even last year but that was for one game. this year the event covered four games. MySims Kingdom, MySims PC, SimAnimals and SimCity Creator.
I left my home in NC on Thursday the 18th and flew into Charlotte. Because of a flight delay, my San Francisco flight had already left and I was re-booked via Las Vegas. Not a bad place to have to wait on a lay over. Though I had the intention of throwing a few coins in the slot machine, I never did. I arrived at the SF airport after 11:00 at night and too late for the hotel shuttle. I had to find my own transportation to the hotel and it was my good luck that I found a town car needing a fare. I do like having a Town Car to pick me up so for me, it was $45 well spent.
The room was really nice and as I remembered from last year. I didn’t have the same room but it was laid out the same. The Hotel Sofitel is within walking distance of the EA campus. Why is it called a campus? Because it sits on 23 acres and looks like a University.
The next morning Angie, our EA representative met us in the lobby and walked with us over to EA. Since we had all pre-signed our NDA agreements, we didn’t have to wait and do that. We meet in a conference room and had some pastries and coffee and got to introduce ourselves.
We were then broken into 3 groups which would alternate between demonstrations. I was in group one with four others. Our first stop of the day was to get a demonstration of the new MySims Kingdom game present by developers M.J. Chun and Tim LeTourneau.
Both I had the pleasure to meet last year. M.J. sat with me last year while I was playing MySims. I love hearing her talk about the game, she has so much passion for it. The demonstration lasted about an hour and we got to see both the Wii version and the DS version. I’ll be doing a write up on that game soon.
After the first demonstration we were given a tour of the EA Campus. It’s very large and provides so many perks for employees. A day care, laundry service, a gym, a cafeteria, a game room and a basket ball court. They can even get their cars washed.
One of the cool things you’ll find there is this Labyrinth. It’s there to inspire creativity. In the center is a snail.
The plaque reads: “Walking a Labyrinth is a meditative exercise that dates back more than four thousand years. This one is modeled after the Sheperd’s Race Labyrinth which was originally created on Boughton Green, England and was similar to those common in the Northern Europe during Medieval Times. The spark of creativity comes in unexpected places at unexpected times. We hope you enjoy the EA Labyrinth. There are no rules for using it — like everything else, the walls are in your mind.”
In the middle is cute little snail.
We were shown the awards and collections over the years. When a game sells millions of copies they get a plaque on the wall. The amount changes from one to five to ten. They had so many of these showing a very successful career.
After the EA campus tour my group then went to a SimAnimal demonstration. Another game coming out on the Wii. This demo was given in the “Glass Lagoon” by Charles London, Creative Director and his team. I’ll post more about this game later along with photos and link it here later.
Lunch time was next. They had a spread of lunch meats, cheeses and chips for us to eat. A very casual but nice lunch. We sat around the conference table and for awhile the discussion was political but finally turned to games.
After lunch my group stayed in the conference room called the Inner Sanctum to get a preview of the new SimCity Creator game. This game was demonstrated for us by Mitch Ueno. (Also met him last year) You can find my game write up about this game here: SimCity Creator. Please take a look, I think they did a great job porting this to the Wii.
Next on the agenda was a visit to the EA Company Store. I love that they let us shop there. We got a free game of our choose plus we were able to buy PC games for $10 and Console games for $20. I stocked up on some games for me and for gifts. This time I expected it and brought some extra cash.
After the shopping spree, we gathered again as one group and went inside a small theater. We were then given a demonstration of MySims PC. I really like the way this game ported to the PC. They added some multiplayer features that are really cool. You can find my write up about this game here: MySims PC.
Finally at the end of the day, we were taken to the atrium where we got to share some pizza and play hands on with MySims Kingdom. It was a very relaxed atmosphere and we all had a good time. We were able to mingle with the development team and ask questions and just talk. I love they way EA has such a relaxed and casual atmosphere for both the employees and the guests.
We finished up about 7:00 pm, were given gift bags containing some SimAnimal gummy bears, a copy of SimCity Creator and some collectible cards. and headed back to the hotel. Some of our group met in the bar downstairs to talk and hang out. They were all a great group of people and I enjoyed meeting each of them. I didn’t join them as I had some other things I needed to do but we’ve been keeping in touch by email.
I want to close with a thank you to EA for hosting this event and inviting me to join in the fun. I feel especially lucky that I’ve been there twice and get to meet so many interesting and talented people. I’m kicking myself now for not picking up more business cards. They really don’t deserve to be called evil and some of the harsh criticism that they receive. These are such nice people who want to make great games and they really do care about they’re players. I judge people and companies based on how they treat me and this company has always done that well. You can say I’m biased and maybe I am but that’s how I see it.
If you want to see more photos, please visit my gallery: MySims Photo Gallery