One of world's biggest video game companies reveals secrets to success
(FOX 11) - It's the place where heroes and villains are given a life of their own.
Inside the doors of Blizzard Entertainment in Irvine, creators spend months, sometimes years, perfecting video game characters.
"Well you can see how the tongue doesn't match up here in the game, it's a little wider than it should be. So I have a bug now to fix. You have to be a real genius to figure this out. So I am very bright," says one employee.
The 25-year-old company, started by three UCLA grads, rarely opens up its doors to the media but we got a behind the scenes look.
Jeff Kaplan, Blizzard's game director for Overwatch, says cameras catching anything in an early stage, could cause a frenzy in the gaming community.
"The interesting things about games, is that once we create them and put them out to the public, the game no longer belongs to us. It belongs to the community playing that game. And the community tends to make the game into something much larger than what we could make it into," said Kaplan.
Just how big? According to Big Fish Games, 155 million Americans regularly play video games three or more hours per week.
Kaplan says at an given time, tens of thousands of people around the world are playing one of their games, like World of Warcraft, Overwatch or Diablo.
"Our games are running in dozens of countries - all in every time zone in all times," said Kaplan.
The control room or GNOC, which stands for Global Network Operations center, is set up to closely monitor service.
"A lot of times people will laugh when they see the GNOC because they'll notice a TV will be up and they'll say oh those guys are just in there maybe watching TV. What they're actually doing is they'll put on local news in different regions that we're in in case of natural disasters, storms hitting, because that can affect our service," said Kaplan.
The attention to detail and stress is one of the reasons the company pays close attention to employee health.
"The culture is one of the most important things here at Blizzard," said Kaplan.
Blizzard has a volleyball court, gym and even a library where employees can check out books, board games, and of course... video games.
"We want to have fun, making the things we make and doing the things we do. After all, we're in the business of creating fun, so it should be fun for our employees to be here," said Kaplan.
Employees have everything they need on campus but one of the biggest keys to their success is connecting with actual players.
Even though some gamers have no idea, the game industry is listening to them on community forums.
"Often time they'll talk about us on reddit like we're not there and yet some of us are posting anonymously in the same threads. We're all reading the same things they're reading. When they post something funny, we'll share it amongst all the employees here," said Kaplan.
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