RichmondFor all the life and humanity of the Gamers.com offices in Berkeley, the Richmond offices were a remote and desolate maturation. We needed to grow, and we were growing fast. So we found very cheap and plentiful office space in converted warehouses in Richmond. If you get the wrong directions, you'd drive through some of the poorest looking parts of the East Bay on your way to these offices.
It's the industrial frontier - large machines with a past purpose dot the horizon, stray dogs cross your path with their head down. We were near shipyards on the ocean side of the freeway from the rundown town of Richmond. There's some new condominium developments nearby, and many new office parks. When real estate got expensive during the Internet boom, this seemed a good place to expand.
Even with the move, the desks retained some funk.
Matt Wenzel's playland, January 2001.
There's two places you could walk to eat - "Salute's" the upscale italian place associated with the yacht club near by, and "Amini's" deli where you must fill out forms to order sandwiches, and they don't have bacon!
And either way you drive, if the wind is right, something smells like molten cat food. It's one of the most overpowering and frightening smells I've ever experienced - in part because there's only scrap yards and a paper factory nearby - no Purina.
Suffice to say that it's a stark contrast to the joyful plentitude of downtown Berkeley. There's no movie theatres here, BART is a drive away, there's no bookstores, record stores, comic book stores. No one would ever come to this part of town unless they were going to visit you.
So Alice and some other folks worked to make the Gamers.com office in Richmond a fun place to be. Standup arcade games, library of board games, game nights. Definitely with more space and a regular commute, it's a place to work, more than a home or a stop over on a Saturday night. Many of the GX oldtimers moved nearby so it's convenient for them. My daily driving became very much about freeways and traffic, leading to cubicles.
The office itself was a giant room, with Business-Development (BizDev) in the front, and PC gaming and FiringSquad in the rear, and Video Games and Art and me in the middle. The BizDev department kept their flourescent lights on, and the PC gaming side kept their overhead flourescent lights off, so the office was very neatly divided into the light side and the dark side. I sat in the middle, closer to the light side probably.
View from the Light Side.
View from the Dark Side.