A Video Game Legacy

After all these years, I finally visited the Letterman Digital Arts Center. The series of buildings that house most of LucasFilm and related offices. And of course, the Yoda statue.

The Yoda statue on top of a fountain at The Letterman Center in San Francisco's Presidio.
The Yoda Statue, horribly backlit.

For the longest time I had this thought it was blocked off because… fandom. And the 24-hour staffed gate at the parking lot. After a few times in the area with folks and not knowing how to get to the Yoda statue, I decided for my exercise last Sunday to go and figure it out.

In full honestly, I feel strange having any presence in the shadow of LucasFilm for working for the once removed cousin. Working at Telltale was working in the shadow of LucasArts (the gaming division) for all its strengths and all the weaknesses. I guess I don’t really know how to approach the space as not a fan, not a former employee, but also a distant part of the LucasArts story. Like Pixar formally the “Computer Division” of LucasFilm. But no one talks or documents the history of LucasArts.

That said, the only thing that signals the space as the home of the LucasFilm empire is that Yoda statue. Great pains are taken to insure the space isn’t obvious that the Star Wars and other works of media happens here. Not even viewing the office windows.

There are two non-Yoda statutes at the park. The “father of cinema” Edward James Mubridge and the inventor of television Philo Farnsworth. An obvious nod of appreciation to the forms of media that built the Lucas empire.

What strikes me is “father of video games” Ralph Baer is not immortalized. Which says a lot about how diminished video games are as a form of media and how LucasFilm, who paid for and maintains that space, sees interactive entertainment.

Or perhaps video games as a whole just aren’t as important in media after all.

The park is a very beautiful space. Wish I had known during lockdowns. During that time, I would go to the Main Parade Lawn near the Walt Disney Family Museum to be outside and away from the house. Construction for at Presidio Tunnel Tops was still underway, so this would have been a great spot without the construction.

A look out into the San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge over the viewing area at Tunnel Tops Park.

That said: Tunnel Tops park is now absolutely breathtaking.