At the beginning of January Chris Roper and Jeremy Dunham, community managers at Zipper Interactive (Sony-owned game developer on the SOCOM franchise & MAG), gave me a call. Quick back-story, Chris and Jeremy used to work at IGN.com, a website I grew up reading on a daily basis and in a way influenced the way I write today, so I was well-aware of who these two were. And ironically enough after leaving IGN.com they both got jobs working at the developer who had created one of my favourite franchises from the PS2, SOCOM. Anyways to get back to the story, they laid the bombshell on me - I was being invited (1 of 18 people) to Zipper Interactive to check out the still in-developement, SOCOM 4, and oh ya, Sony/Zipper was paying for the entire trip. Being as I was invited to this as a 'fan' and not apart of the media, I don't think it's unprofessional to say that I flipped my shit. I had always wanted to visit the west coast, and not only was I doing that free of charge but also checking out a new entry into one of my all-time favourite videogame franchises. For my thoughts on the game I'll have an article going up at GreatCanadianGamer.com sometime today, but for this particular blog entry I really want to focus on the trip.
For those unaware, Redmond (where Zipper is) and Bellevue (where my hotel was), Washington are both a suburb of Seattle. I arrived into the Seattle-Tacoma Airport on Wednesday evening, was picked up by a few friends (one of which who works at Zipper) and we made our way to Red Robin for dinner. After enjoying an incredible 'Burnin Love Burger' and a glass of Blue Moon which only came to $14 after tax (tax only being $1.17 which was insane to me) I headed to my hotel room where my jaw subsequently dropped. The kitchen alone is larger than the one in my apartment - lots of counter space, full fridge, dishwasher, stove built-into the counter - and also a King-size bed, two windows, 32inch HDTV, a desk, a separate table with two chairs, a couch, I could go on and on but just take a look at the picture.
But of course I didn't come all the way to Washington state to just stay in my hotel room. After the community event at Zipper on Thursday, Friday was spent around downtown Seattle with a few of my friends. We walked around downtown and on our way to the famous Pike Place Market - home of many indoor shops and the very first Starbucks - we found this wall of chewed gum:
After passing this wall we managed to make it to Pike Place Market where, among other things, we visited the very first Starbucks. In front of Starbucks is where we captured this video below of a little girl dancing with some street music performs as her mom watched by. The music was great by the way:
After that we visited the Space Needle, which I like to call CN Tower junior (even though it's older than the CN Tower, which surprised me). It looks really nice at night and gives a great view of the surrounding area. But I wish the day was a little clearer as the overcast skys prevented us from seeing the surrounding mountains.