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Discovery Days at Ubisoft Toronto

December 6, 2021
6 minutes read
Ubisoft Toronto Discovery Day 2021

Welcome to Discovery Days!  

Over the course of this week, our teams are gathering virtually to share knowledge, explore new ways of thinking and imagine the future of Ubisoft Toronto 

From learning how to craft game worlds and optimize game design, to sharing how our team can support and play a part in mental health, anti-racism and diversity initiatives, Discovery Days is designed to guide individuals to learn from each other, challenge the status quo, push the boundaries of innovation, and grow personally and professionally. 

Get ready for a series of inspiring talks, creative workshops and team-building activities. We’ll be recapping this week’s events in the days to follow, so check back regularly for updates! 

To kick off Discovery Days, Ubisoft Toronto Managing Director Istvan Tajnay presented a renewed direction for Ubisoft Toronto led by a new set of core values.

These core values — trust, integrity, excellence and care — are the result of many of us at the studio, working together, to think about who we are, what we care about and what we want for ourselves. They reflect a commitment from the leadership team to continue striving towards becoming a stronger, safer and more fun place to work.

“[We are] committed to these values because we believe it will help us be a stronger, healthier and more successful studioAnd I’d like to ask you to do the same. This is your call to adventure as we embark on the next chapter of our development as a studio.” 

After opening remarks, our teams enjoyed a chat with Michael Beadle, Senior Director of Communications at Ubisoft San Francisco. The discussion focused on a very important subject: how can we, as individuals, make a difference by supporting Ubisoft’s anti-racism marketing initiatives.

Beadle emphasized the importance of leading with empathy, creating a safe space and embracing uncomfortable conversations. His inspirational words left us eager to meet our goals and make Ubisoft a better place for everyone.

That’s not all! In the afternoon, we were joined by the Take This team, who hosted a workshop on how we can use video games as tools for learning and change. Diversity and representation are critical. In this session, we learned just how big an impact they have on player experience. Using research from psychology, sociology, and media studies, our teams engaged in a discussion about how diversity leads to inclusion, and inclusion to a sense of belonging. As game developers, we looked closely at how we can optimize character creation, narrative, and mechanics to create change for good.

Day 1 of Discovery Days was a hit! We can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings. 

Rise and shine! It’s Day 2 of Discovery Days!  

To start, we were lucky to have Amanda Evertsson, Consumer and Market Knowledge Analyst, join us from Ubisoft International HQ in Paris. She shared her expertise in a chat about video game remakes and remasters. Both have their own unique challenges, such as satisfying nostalgic player expectations while adding new and exciting features. But they also provide opportunities to introduce old titles to new generations. To create a successful remake or remaster, our teams learned that the most important thing is to listen to what players want.  

Evertsson wasn’t our only special guest! In the afternoon, we had the opportunity to learn from two leading figures in accessibility. This includes Steve Saylor, advocate, consultant, and creator of YouTube series “BLIND GAMER”, and Dave Evans, Owner and Studio Director of Falling Squirrel, a video game studio focused on advancing game mechanics for the visually impaired.   

This duo led a session packed with solid information. Evans guided us through his experience creating and launching The Vale: Shadow of The Crown, an audio-based game made for both visually impaired and sighted gamers. Moderated by Saylor, the discussion covered design, narrative, and feedback from the blind gaming community. The session opened our eyes to new ways to create an immersive gaming experience that’s accessible for everyone. 

Day 2 is a wrap! Stay tuned for tomorrow’s lineup! 

We’re halfway through Discovery Days 2021, it’s going by so fast! 

Today began with warm and fuzzy vibes, with lessons on the Wholesome Games movement alongside Marie Rumignani, Senior Market Analyst at Ubisoft HQ in Paris. The chat looked at the success of Animal Crossing: New Horizons, and how its cuteness, positivity and adorable characters took the world by storm. Using this as an example, we learned why relaxed, story-driven gameplay resonates with fans. We explored wholesome games’ impact on mental health, how it encourages personal growth by digging into complex themes, and how it can be an empowering tool for exploring new perspectives on underrepresented topics. 

Welcome to day 4! 

This morning, we were joined by Dr. Rachel Kowert, a clinical psychologist, game designer, and the Research Director of Take This. As game creators, most of us know of someone or have been impacted personally by online harassment. This is a major issue in gaming communities, and, in this discussion, we unpacked the kinds of harassment that occur online and the direct and indirect harm that comes as a result.  

After digging into the root causes and effects of online harassment, our teams were given advice on how we can better support each other. Attacks on social media can cause short and long-term harm to mental health, leading to serious issues like PTSD and isolated behaviour. As leaders in the gaming industry, it’s our responsibility to create a safe space for players and our teams. 


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The second talk of the day was with our friends from Ubisoft Film and Television in Los Angeles. Margaret Boykin, Danielle Kreinik and Genevieve Jones shared a behind-the-scenes look at how they bring authentic game worlds to TV and film. Looking closely at Mythic Quest, Ubisoft’s first live-action television series, we learned how we, as game developers, can provide valuable insight to help create realistic representations of the industry, our games, and the gaming community. With video games rapidly becoming mainstream media, more adaptations and original projects are sure to come! Our teams left this talk eager to collaborate and share our expertise. 

Discovery Days 2021 is nearly done! Come back tomorrow for a final surprise. 

Discovery Days 2021 is almost a wrap! But we’ve got one more workshop, and a very special guest… 

Our first talk was with Dr. Kelli Dunlap, clinical psychologist and game designer, who shared her knowledge about mental illness and video games. The session kicked off with an AMA, and our teams had a chance to ask Dr. Dunlap questions. We learned how video games can add to our quality of life and debunked the myth of video game addiction. With a focus on self-care, we discussed coping mechanisms, how to spot early signs of burnout, and got tips on how to feel our best. This session left us better equipped to take care of ourselves, as individuals, and each other as a team. 

In our final workshop, our teams unpacked our new studio values alongside Managing Director, Istvan Tajnay. In this open discussion, we had the opportunity to ask anything to better understand our renewed direction, and how the core values of trust, integrity, excellence and care will guide us forward together. 

Our final guest arrived that afternoon to share his personal journey and story of success. Regie Fills-Aime rose from the Bronx to the top of Nintendo, as Nintendo America’s first American and African-American President and COO. He inspired our teams by sharing how he credits his accomplishments to life principles of curiosity, courage, and integrity, and facing your fears. This motivational session reminded us of the importance of being a leader, no matter your role, taking risks, and staying true to our core values. 

Tajnay capped off the week with a closing statement praising our teams and emphasizing our ability to be leaders.  

We have it in us to be that good. It won’t happen overnight, and the road won’t be easy. There will be many challenges. But the certainty to me is that we will overcome the obstacles on our journey, because we will choose to face them with courage, like heroes do.”

Istvan Tajnay, Managing Director, Ubisoft Toronto

That’s it for Discovery Days 2021! Here’s to more years of imagination, exploration and discovery!

READ MORE:Ubisoft Toronto Team

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