Every year, the Ubisoft Montreal studio opens its doors to hundreds of high school and college students aged 14 to 19 to help them discover the professional side of making games and the passion that comes with building Ubisoft’s worlds. In a time when in-person visits are no longer an option, we took a look at how they are continuing to share their knowledge and transmit their creativity to the next generation of world builders.
"With the pandemic, we've had to temporarily suspend our school trip program," explains Director of Talent and Culture Nathalie Verge. "But we still wanted to give teachers and their students virtual access to the studio. That's when the Ubisoft Education team came up with the idea of building a new video content kit that includes a visit to Ubisoft Montreal."
Ubisoft Education is a program that prepares Quebec youth for the jobs of the future. Since its launch in 2018, more than 75,000 students from elementary school to university have benefited from Ubisoft Education through the various initiatives in collaboration with education partners. It also relies on the involvement of several hundred Ubisoft studio employees in Montreal, Quebec City, and Saguenay.
Filmed at Ubisoft Montreal’s flagship building in Mile End, the tour shows off the various spaces that make up the largest Ubisoft studio in the world. The tour starts with the scanning room, an impressive space where 136 cameras are set up to film actors and employees to create 3D models, and advanced capture technology allows the team to create realistic characters based on real people. The tour then continues to the sound studio, where dialogue, background noise, and sound effects spring to life. Finally, the visit concludes at the user test lab, where the general public can test games in development before their official release.
In addition to the visit, the kit also includes a presentation on the phases it takes to create a video game, with Assassin’s Creed Origins Creative Director Jean Guesdon and Vice President of Editorial Bio Jade Adam Granger. It's a chance to navigate through the four main phases: design, pre-production, production, and the final live phase.
Rounding out the experience are profiles of employees who work in programming, game design, and art from the Montreal and Saguenay studios. "The idea is to offer a full mix of role models that young people can identify with. We want to demystify academic programs and show them the wide range of careers our industry has to offer," says Verge.
This new content is designed for students in the midst of choosing their careers, and is designed as a complement to Ubisoft Education's existing program. It strives to attract more young people to STEM-related disciplines (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and diversify the talent pool in these fields in Quebec.
"The good news is that we're seeing that professors are open to the kits,” concludes Verge. “We've seen people tagging colleagues and school friends on social networks, and it's content that's easily shared with schools that contact us directly, even during the pandemic. Our thinking is that it gives more schools and more students a glimpse of our reality and our work environment as we wait to welcome them back to the studio."