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Inside the Legendary Riot Games Campus

Story and most photos by Raoul Pascual
The imposing statue of Annie and Tibbers (her magical stuffed bear) who are champions in “League of Legends” greet you at the entrance of the mysterious Riot Games Campus.

Hidden in the heart of West Los Angeles is a mini-Disneyland known as the Riot Games campus. For you uninformed old geezers (like myself), Riot Games is one of the biggest names in the Video Gaming industry. Their flagship game is League of Legends which is the most-played PC game in the world. Beyond games, Riot has also expanded into multimedia (animated movies) like Arcane (which can be viewed in Netflix). According to their website, they created the Riot Games campus to inspire their employees every time they go to work. And boy, did they go all out in creating this urban pleasure island.

No, you can’t buy tickets to get in. No, you can’t sign up to enter. The only way to enter is to know somebody who works for the company and who will sponsor you and act as your tour guide (there are some top secret, restricted areas you know). For a company that is Chinese owned (Tencent, the economic giant) this secretive imposition should not be surprising.

For the fortunate few who are able to get in, everything inside is free. Anything you eat or drink is free. Any video game you play is free. And to wash away the pounds that you gain from all the food, any exercise equipment or sports facility you use is free as well. Imagine what it must be like to be a creative working there — it’d be like working on a cruise line and getting paid to do what you enjoy.

One of Korean artist, Kim Jung Gi’s last murals at the parking lot.

Entering the secret kingdom

A few days prior, our host sent each of us the invitation and we had to register with our mug shots online. When we got there, our host had to be present at the gate where the guards checked our driver’s license. After parking the car, a giant mural by the famous Korean artist Kim Jung Gi greeted us. It was a preview of the celebration of art that awaited us inside.

A gallery of “Riot Games'” products adorn the walls of the entrance section.
Final security check.

Inside the building was yet another visitor signup and they gave us name tags that needed to be worn at all times. The walls were festooned with artwork and videos from Riot’s different products. There was so much open space which I found unusual in congested Los Angeles — these guys have a lot of money to splurge on — did you know the Gaming Industry makes more money than the Movie industry? Past the ominous hallway, was the trademark statue of the campus. There was a room that was off limits which seemed to lead to office cubicles. There were quite a few conference rooms labeled “Player Research Labs” where I imagine some of the brightest ideas originated. Our first taste of luxury was an impressive coffee and tea bar. Starbucks, you’ve got competition!

A classy coffee shop to start the tour.
When you see people admiring cartoon paintings, you know you’re in a fantasy world.
The bamboo pathway to the hidden world of the “Riot Games” campus.
The Music Room where anyone can bring their instruments and jam.
Greetings, to the “chosen ones!”

Stepping out of the entrance building, the rustling of the leaves of the Chinese bamboo pathway led us to this peaceful realm hidden from the Los Angeles traffic. There were special activities like an open air exercise facility, a bicycle garage, a music room with a keyboard, amps to plug in your guitars and mics, and a drum set to bring out the musician in you. In the middle of the landscape was a huge tented reception area for maybe concerts and parties. A large balloon sign said “Welcome Riot Interns.” I guess this must be a common occurrence as Riot is constantly expanding.

Lunch for the day. Notice there were no prices — they were all free!


Smorgasbord? Anyone?

The menu for the day was too long to read. I decided to just dive in the smorgasbord. Our host said the chef from Noms prepares different dishes every day. The food choices varied from borderline healthy to bland super healthy (not too much of the unhealthy stuff). Of course you take your fill of your impressive vegan to your unmentionable but delicious obsessions. You could even box your food to go. Our host said she doesn’t cook anymore. Who would (given the choice between home cooking and pampered chef)? And food is ready 24 hours any time of the day including weekends. Surprisingly, most of the employees were pretty lean. Most (I believe) were millennials coming from various ethnicities — the cool kids of the world found each other here.

A ten foot screen projected live players of “League of Legends.”
Millennials fill the cafeteria room. Lunch break is an hour and they go by the honor system (ie. they don’t have to punch in or out).
You can enjoy your lunch and take in the fresh air or box it and take it home.

League of Legends is so popular in Korean cafes that management decided to create a game cafe (PC Bang) here in Los Angeles for the local die-hards. Inside the building were old fashioned throw-back entertainment — a 70s Arcade room with a pin ball machine, target shooting and Street Fighting games — all free of course. For those needing a little more exercise, there was a separate area for ping pong and billiards. There was a large sound proof glass-enclosed room (called the Console Room) set up with 4 living room couches where one could play any game from any video game manufacturer like Sony, Nintendo or Xbox. It was decorated with anime figurines typical of a teenager’s cave room.

Entrance to PC Bang, the Korean-cafe-inspired Arcade building.
The League of Legends tournament area (PC Bang) where you can make reservations for your gaming party.

We walked a few blocks outside to our last stop — the original F building where our host’s office was situated. On our way there our host pointed out other buildings which were under construction. One was to be her new office. “It doesn’t make sense. Why the F building? Where’s the A building?” I asked. “Oh, buildings are named after the video game’s keyboard shortcut commands (ie. Ctrl-F) and not according to proximity,” was the reply.

It didn’t have the visual frills of the newer buildings but it had a basketball shooting game, a few more arcade games and an awesome smoothie bar — which was actually my favorite culinary treat. I ordered an Acai bowl which was ice cream with shaved walnuts and all the crunchy nuts in the world plus all those colorful juicy berries. I ate a whole large bowl. I was so full I skipped dinner and breakfast and lunch the next day and didn’t even get hungry 24 hours later.

Walking on the streets of LA towards Building F.
The Smoothie bar with the amazing ice cream concoction.
Old fashioned basketball arcade.

The Riot Games campus lives up to its legend — a step away from the busyness of life and into the surreal world of youthful fun and adventure. Nah!, I won’t even bother to tell you the address since it is a private property and not open to the public at large. This must be typical of these tech giant companies like Google, Apple, Microsoft and Facebook. This is the habitat bubble where the spoiled creative geniuses live and breath. This is where you bring your space UFO aliens to impress them about the human race.

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