A huge Treyarch logo stamped in the center of the building was one of the first things Dante Exum noticed as he strolled through the studio doors on Wednesday, Aug. 29 in Santa Monica, California.
For more than two hours, the Utah Jazz guard received a personal tour of the facility where the upcoming Call of Duty: Back Ops 4 game was created.
The zombies, replica guns and other game memorabilia being housed in the site wowed him as he also received a rundown on the history of the game.
Call of Duty: Back Ops 4 officially launches globally on Oct. 12 and when it does Exum will become that same kid who once received his first game on Christmas while staying up all night to play with his brother, Jamaar.
With a behind-the-scenes look at the upcoming game, Exum can now equate that same teamwork to his experience on the hardwood in Salt Lake City. Especially with Jazz coach Quin Snyder’s “the strength of our team is the team” motto.
Exum claims that experience was one of his motivations this past summer, coupled with the 3-year, $33 million contract extension, after playing in just 14 games last year once he recovered from shoulder surgery.
“When you kind of look at a video game and how it’s made you just think it’s a couple of people just sitting in a room making a game, but just for the amount of people that had an office, the team and how the offices are kind of spaced out,” Exum described. “It was a team effort and then a lot of the people that I talked to were saying how they’ve been there for multiple games and just the love and support that everyone gets from within, it makes you want to play the game more but also have respect for what they do.
“It kind of correlates for me with basketball just with the Jazz and it’s something that a lot of people don’t know is how many people behind the scenes go into making the organization work.”
The gaming industry has become a huge worldwide sensation in recent years, generating millions of sales. Former Jazzman Jonas Jerebko, now with the Golden State Warriors, is the majority owner of the Detroit Renegades esports team, where members live in a seven-bedroom house and training center in Rochester, Michigan.
Even the Jazz have a Jazz Gaming Team that participated in the inaugural NBA 2K League this season. The misconception is that gamers like to sit around and snack on junk food all day while tapping buttons, but there’s a serious mental approach that is necessary to perform at an elite level for the professional gamers.
“It takes a lot of focus, it takes a lot of mental preparation and it takes so much to get ready for a game,” said Shaka “Yeah I Compete” Browne, who was taken third overall by Jazz Gaming in the NBA 2K League. “We have to practice, we have to watch film, we have to do scrimmages and make sure we keep our minds clean and healthy and our hands because those are the most important things. The whole esports organization is competitive and should be looked at as a sport.”
Although Exum isn’t a professional member of the esports community, he has owned every console in the past and has now converted to playing his Call of Duty games on PC instead of Xbox or PlayStation.
His teammates, Donovan Mitchell and Royce O’Neale are also big gamers, along with other members of the Jazz squad, but Exum sees it as fun and a way to relieve stress when he’s not playing or practicing basketball.
“I think video games is something I try to do,” Exum said. “To be honest, I play them every day. It’s kind of just like it relieves me but when the new Call of Duty comes out, I’m on that thing as much as possible in between practices and games.
“I always look forward to the releases every year.”
Although Exum has recently visited the Treyarch Studios and is respected as a friend and longtime fan of the brand, he still has to wait like the rest of the public before he can actually own the Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 game this month — which features a new Battle Royale Mode.
“I’ve got to wait like everyone else and plus it’s online so no one is getting it ahead of time,” Exum said, laughing.