Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, Ph.D.

I study people, technology, and the worlds they make

Redwood Shores and Xevious

I went to the doctor, and am now waiting for the results of my strep test. Apparently there’s also some viral thing going around that’s pretty similiar to what I have, so there are TWO candidates for what I’ve got.

My doctor’s office is located in a strip mall in Redwood Shores, a town a few miles north of Menlo Park, on the bay. I suspect that 95% of the town didn’t exist 20 years ago, and is all landfill; it consists largely of upscale condos for people who like to sail, at least one athletic club of the sort that has valet parking in front of the big fountain, and a lot of corporate headquarters– Oracle is there, and Macromedia. While driving into it, I was struck by a weird kind of deja vu. I’ve been there a few times before, but this feeling was different: not that I’d been there before, but I’d seen these low-slung modernist buildings, neatly laid-out streets, wraparound glass corporate headquarters, and little pyramids (which decorated the ends of a mall) somewhere before.

I mulled this over idly as I drove to the doctor’s (which is in a mall, near a supermarket), when suddenly it hit me. I nearly drove off the road, the realization was so striking. I knew where I’d seen this before:


The classic video game, created by Japanese company Namco in the early 1980s. (A pretty good Java version is here.) I played hundreds of hours of Xevious when I was in high school and college (one of the highlights of my summer as an exchange student in Japan, I’m ashamed to admit, was picking up a variety of Xevious cheats that no one in America seemed to know about), and the game’s landscape of grassland cut through with roads, pyramids, and round buildings is burned in my visual memory.

And it looks exactly like Redwood Shores.


  1. FYI, this observation made me laugh out loud in the “quiet area” of the Cornell library. Just so’s you know the disruptions you’re causing across the country…

  2. I guess it just shows that the Internet IS a disruptive technology!

    Now that I think about it, Electronic Arts is also over there, too. The perfect location for a game company– a game landscape!

    I’m sure there’s something to be done on Silicon Valley as a giant game….

  3. also just as planned as Celebration city by disney in florida…
    TITLE: The conference begins
    BLOG NAME: Future Now
    DATE: 05/25/2004 03:48:35 PM
    The morning sessions are now getting underway. Unfortunately since I’m running mikes for all the sessions, I won’t be blogging in real time, but will provide what updates I can. We’ve got over 100 people, a deeply gratifying number. I think it’s large …

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