Indie virtual reality games developer Steel Wool Games is still settling into its new digs, adjacent to the Port of Oakland. Unpacked boxes still sit on the hardwood floor. They contain office equipment and other items form their old stomping grounds on 3rd and Alice Streets just a mile away.
The new office on 3rd Avenue and Linden Street is next to an Amtrak line, the same tracks where freight trains used to deliver cargo and other goods to warehouses. The ghost town that sits adjacent to Jack London Square and Oakland’s ports mirrors the industrial Williamsburg neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York before the hipsters and real estate tycoons took over. Dayton is a New York City native, by way of Queens.
The warehouse office is a bit bigger than the studio’s old office, It has a metal staircase, a back door that leads to the train tracks and brick walls that seem to go on forever.
It reminds Dayton a lot of the buildings back in New York City.
“To me Oakland is Brooklyn and San Francisco is Manhattan and Jack London and the downtown [Oakland] area is becoming what Williamsburg was,” said Dayton. “All of a sudden, people are realizing that there’s a lot of space here.”
While tech companies are growing in Oakland, the gaming scene is barren in Oakland, nowhere more so than 3rd Street.
Although some have been updated and renovated to match the growing scene around it, empty warehouses collect dust, wait for long-haul truckers to pass on their way to and from the ports.
Third Street’s progress is as slow as downloading movies on dial-up internet.