Note: The Skinny blog is written by Rick Smith, editor and co-founder of Local Tech Wire and business editor of WRAL.com.

CARY, N.C. – With Gov. Beverly Perdue coming to town to , Epic Games threw open the doors to its secretive headquarters on Thursday. The Skinny entered armed with digital camera – and snapped away.

The more than 70,000 square feet of office space recently opened by one of the world’s top game development and technology companies is something right out of Silicon valley, said Lockheed Martin’s Richard Boyd, who spends a lot of his time on the West Coast.

Hollywood, too. And as for security – well, let’s throw in the Pentagon with everything but biosensors. (Those are probably hidden in the walls.)

{a href="external_link-1"}}Epic Games President Mike Capps, adorned in a red Gears of War (minus the skeleton head) t-shirt largely covered by a sports jacket for the visit by the governor, proudly posed in front of one whopping prop. (“I didn’t think the t-shirt with the skeleton head was appropriate for the Governor,” Capps said.)

Malcolm, a 20-foot giant created for a trade show in German a few years back, towers menacingly over the new space.

“We saved him from a trade show,” Capps said with a smile.

The creator of the burly soldier was going to trash him. When Epic found out the videogame equivalent of Atlas could be had for shipping costs back to the states – “about $2,000,” Capps said – Epic agreed to pay the freight.

While nothing else compared in The Skinny’s view to Malcolm, there were other features that wowed the Governor and crowd.

There’s the ‘fast steps,” as Capps proudly described the all-metal slide descending from the second floor.

And adorning the break area is a rock climbing wall.

Interestingly, just as before the HQ was expanded, there are few if any outward signs the building is Epic’s home.

A banner outside greeted the Governor, her entourage, lawmakers, digital media execs and the media gathered for the event. But there are no neon lights proclaiming the place as one of the digital media world’s hottest creative centers.

Inside, however, the Epic story is told quite vividly – by filled trophy cases.

Just as Tekelec has its “patent wall” for all the technology developed there, so does Epic have cases packed with trophies, plaques and other awards the company has earned over the years.

The videogame industry, like just about every other, has been hit hard by the recession. Event Epic.

“We’ve encountered a few blips,” Capps said.

But the company that has produced multi-million selling award-winners like “Gears of War” and its sequel plus “Unreal Tournament” and sequels as well as perhaps the world’s top game development engine (called Unreal) is still growing and hiring, Capps said.

Two big games are coming out early next year – “Bulletstorm” and the next Gears. Both did well at the recent E3 show, and Capps said each title is on track for release. “We don’t want to be working through the holidays,” he noted.

As for expectations – they are high.

“Big blockbuster games still do well” despite the economy, Capps said. “We still feel like we’re in a good spot.”

It’s too bad Epic is privately held.

The place really is turning out to be a Fort Knox for all the money made there.

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