So we took a trip to California from Rhode Island recently…myself, my wife, and our 3 broodlings. My best friend resides in Los Angeles with his wife and their son, so we spent 10 days visiting them and touring a bit of So Cal. We went to Santa Monica Pier, Disneyland, Hollywood, Grumman’s Chinese Theater, etc. Now my daughter has played a bit of WoW, and more recently has begun playing Warcraft 3. My oldest son has been playing Starcraft (original) and enjoying it. My wife is still a fan of Warcraft II. Needless to say we are a Blizzard household as much as a Honda, Apple, and Nikon one (enjoying and owning many of their products).
So, a trip to the Blizzard studios was on the menu. After all, they have a huge statue outside their main offices in Irvine, as well as others on display in the front lobby and of course the small Blizzard museum. Now, if you worked there, for the first few days you’d stop and look at such things, but like all work places, you would eventually just walk past them and not even notice them any longer. It wears on you and becomes background noise and just part of the scenery. That’s natural.
So, Blizzard…I ask you….WHO ARE THESE THINGS FOR?!?!
Well, its certainly NOT for your 12 million players of World of Warcraft. Why is that you ask? Because, Blizzard is a closed campus and not open to the public. Bad form Blizzard…BAD FORM. The notion that public traffic or tours would be a disruption to the flow of work is completely understandable…but it would not and IS NOT difficult to have a small public area for the viewing of the museum and other collectibles that you have. Make the courtyard public access with a small reception area and timed/tours of the museum. Its not hard, many companies do it. Then have your work space open solely to those with badge access.
My financial services firm does this, and no one cares to visit us; but someone was smart enough to set up facilities specific to public affairs and community outreach.
Blizzard, you owe your success to the players of your game. That statue out front is not for you…its for us. It’s a trophy you should be showing off! When Da Vinci, Cezzane, Picasso, Monet, and Manet painted it was not to hang the art in their living room….it was to show to the world. Yes, you show your work to the gaming community through your games and Blizzcon, but you can do more.
It was telling to my wife that your “campus” was the only set of office buildings behind a 10 foot high black iron fence. You are not a Nuclear facility or a warehouse of military secrets. You are a game developer.
Blizz, you sent a very bad message to my 2 older children that you are not open and inviting. It left a bad taste in their mouths (and mine). No, I do not expect you to be Disneyland and have a huge theme park…but a small exhibition area would go a long way to showing you are an accessible and open company dedicated to your fans and patrons. Don’t be xenophobic introverts. Bear in mind I am calling for a small open access area for visitors….not opening all of your facilities to everyone, that would be unwise and counter-productive for those trying to work.
In short and in my humble opinion, you need some work on your “public affairs”.
Additionally, a note on what this meant to me as a potential associate. I have considering applying to Blizz for years, and my wife has been pushing me to do so for longer. I have a passion for your IPs and could potentially fill various roles in your firm. Would it have been a bad thing for someone to have spoken to me and been able to ask questions? Again a simple public affairs person could have had a face to face dialogue about what it means to work at Blizzard and live within the area. Being open and personable would have been the right approach. Even the receptionist never looked up from her computer screen for more than a moment, and there was no one else in the lobby and no phones were ringing. Just simply making eye contact would have been a huge step forward. In your defense, the security rep was very nice and must have quickly assessed that we were unaware that the campus was not open to the public and that we should not have been there. He understood our position and apologized that he had no alternative to offer us beyond “please exit the premises”. I will not give his name, but rest assured he has my gratitude for being pleasant and understanding. When someone flies across the entire country and makes time to visit you specifically, it should mean something to you about the level of dedication and interest they have. I understand the issue of someone being an over-zealous and crazed fan, and the difficulties therein of dealing with such people….but you cannot tell me they are the majority. They have always been the fringe case scenarios and always will be.
If I had been that receptionist or security and was told, “Oh, we came from New England to visit friends and wanted to be sure to stop by here” I would have said, “Really? Wow. That’s quite a trip to just come here. Let me see if we can make it worth your time then. I can’t offer a lot, but I am hoping something is better than nothing.” As the visitor, I would have appreciated that effort more so than anything else, and while not a “perfect” scenario it would have been far more palatable than the simple “Sorry, you have to leave”
Blizzard, I make an open challenge to you…BE ACCESSIBLE TO YOUR PATRONS AND TALENT POOL. Blizzcon is a nice thing, but lets be honest I can’t bring my entire family to that. The Developer dinner is nice, but at 200 tickets per the pool of potential talent at your disposal makes for a lousy ratio. I want my children to experience a company who takes the time to show they care about them (Disney as an example does this to perfection). I want a potential employer to know more about me than a digital resume and application. If I am considering moving my family of 5 across the country and leaving my position of 10 years with my current firm; I want to do more than simply make a blind application to you via the web. Don’t rest on your laurels Blizz…“Towanda….gotta do more, gotta be more!”