Ubisoft Toronto has partnered with Interactive Ontario to provide game development students and graduates with a meaningful foothold in their video game careers through paid placement at our studio. Dubbed the “ipprenticeship Program,” participants spend one week meeting with, and learning from, professionals in their desired fields through shadowing and one-on-one meetings with key team members, while networking with industry experts in the process. For new voices in video games, the ipprenticeship Program is a great way to break into the industry.
In 2017, we welcomed two women to the studio for the inaugural Women in Games ipprenticeship. We were so thrilled by the experience that in 2018 we expanded the program. This year we offered two spots as part of the Women in Games ipprenticeship and two spots for the brand new Black Youth ipprenticeship Program, in our ongoing goal to highlight emerging talent who are currently underrepresented in the industry.
Last week, our four 2018 participants joined us at Ubisoft Toronto for their week-long ipprenticeship.
The ipprentices (L to R):
Coley is a level designer completing her post-grad at Sheridan College and recently released atmospheric puzzle game Golem with Longbow Games.
Lauren is an aspiring UX Designer and a recent graduate of Sheridan College’s Game Design program, with a background in interaction and game design.
Stevie Ray Hunter
Stevie Ray recently completed his first year at Sheridan College’s Game Design program. He has a strong background in graphic design, and is working towards a career in game UI/UX design.
Danielle is an emerging game UX researcher. At this year’s Level Up, her team showcased their game Chiaroscuro, on which she acted as producer and UX designer.
What did you hope to learn this week?
Coley: I wanted to see what it was like to be a Level Designer at a triple-A company—and what a Level Designer means at a triple-A company. I found it means a lot of different things depending on the project you’re working on, and the role you’re in. My goals are to develop and design spaces for more open world environments—especially since I am coming from a small scale indie with more linear experience, and I wanted to branch out my skills.
Lauren: My main goal was to see what UX designers do here, and see what I’m missing. How I can tailor my skills and figure out how to be on the same page? UX design is not as prevalent as it could be in every single studio.
How do you think this experience will benefit your career?
Stevie Ray: It really does help by giving me a direction, reassuring me on my skill set, and showing what I can achieve when I get out of school. Directly seeing what they do, what they work on and how their process works, you can have that in mind while you’re in school, and be like: “Okay, these are the things they do, these are the tools they use, the talents they value” and you can cultivate yourself.
Danielle: The most valuable thing was getting to see how the user research team does what they do—their set up, what types of tests they might set up for different goals. I really just enjoyed chatting with everyone, even if they weren’t directly related to UR. It’s fun to talk to people who are experts in their field, and passionate about what they do. That passion is infectious, and it makes you want to be the best that you can be.
What was your impression of Ubisoft Toronto before your ipprenticeship? After?
Lauren: Very active! We’re lucky because we’re at Sheridan College, so we have a lot of back and forth with Ubisoft. We’ve had them come in for talks, we’ve also seen them at events. And I feel the same way when I come here. Everyone is really welcoming and very nice.
Stevie Ray: I have no prior experience with Ubisoft or any game studios. Initially I didn’t know what to expect. What came to mind was something super corporate, super busy, just on a computer all the time “I gotta get this level done, I gotta get these programs done, I gotta get this art done” but I get here and everyone is casual, but professional.
Coley: My impression of it before was a lot more corporate. When it comes to roles, I feel like Ubisoft, values design positions. Design is such an important part of game development and it’s often overlooked.
What’s something you learned this week that surprised you?
Danielle: There’s this idea that it’s such a huge company, and such a huge network of studios that it’s like trying to steer a massive freighter—but you still have a bit of a freedom to pick your own ideas or try something. There is a lot more communication that happens between closely associated roles but even just people in general that surprised me and I’m happy to see it.
Thank you to this year’s participants! To learn more about the ipprenticeship Program and how you can apply next year, visit: https://interactiveontario.com/programs/ipprenticeship-program/