— 26 August 2020 | Portrait
12 devs in 12 months: Jean-Christophe Gagnon
To celebrate our 15th anniversary, we wanted to introduce studio employees in an original way. People that are not usually under the spotlight, but that deserve to be known for their impact on the games we create. From that idea, we created the 12 Devs in 12 Months initiative. Until the end of 2020, you will get to meet 12 talented and friendly developers.
This month, we’re introducing you to Jean-Christophe Gagnon, Director User Research Lab, here at Ubisoft Québec.
WHAT’S YOUR GREATEST MEMORY AT UBI?
It’s pretty hard to say. I think my first day at Ubi Québec was one for the book. Passing from one gaming company to another, I wondered if I would find the same kind of passionate and interesting people there. Within 15 minutes of my arrival, I ran into a barefoot long-haired guy, with a Megadeth t-shirt who was walking around, singing in the studio, a full foot of celery in his hand, offering branches to others. The table was set.
WHAT BROUGHT YOU INTO THE VIDEOGAME INDUSTRY?
The game has always interested me for the product but also for its industry. I’ve always enjoyed watching E3 and industry news as much as playing the latest releases. Having a background in marketing administration, I also saw opportunities to seize in such a young and flourishing industry.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE PROJECT YOU’VE WORKED ON?
Assassin’s Creed Syndicate will always be special for me since it is with this game that we have moved into the big leagues. PowerUp Heroes was also full of challenges. Seeing families tearing themselves apart in front of us in a fighting game on Kinect at a time when technology was still capricious made us live out of the ordinary moments at the Lab.
15 YEARS, IT FLIES BY! WHAT WERE YOU DOING IN 2005?
I was the manager of a cinema and an assistant manager at another cinema during my studies in administration. I was also the head of a fight club and an underground bar but that’s another story.
WHAT GETS YOU OUT OF BED IN THE MORNING?
Clearly the need to go to the toilet…. Believe me, there’s no better motivation.
UBISOFT QUÉBEC WOULD’T BE UBISOFT QUÉBEC WITHOUT…
➝ The healthy competitive spirit that constantly drives us to want to do better than other studios.
➝ Catherine Grenier, who is doing such great decoration and design in the studio that I feel like I’m living in a crack house when I get home.
➝ The IT who knows you by your name and tells you about the migration of sea urchins in freshwater when he comes to your workspace to solve all your problems 4 minutes after the opening of your ticket.
➝ The coms team you ask for a helping hand in recruiting playtest participants and who book interviews with Radio-Canada and 3 radio stations the week after.
➝ A finance team with whom you want to have meetings to talk about big cash!
I think you get the point… It’s the wonderful, knowledgeable people who make Ubisoft Quebec what it is.
NAME A COLLEAGUE THAT INSPIRES YOU. WHY?
My team inspires me a lot. It is with them that we pass through all the challenges that the job brings. Capable of navigating through all kinds of situations with a smile and a constant desire to help colleagues.
There is also Jeff Skalski. The guy worked on Ultima Online with Lord British himself! I don’t mean he’s old * coughing *, just that he collaborated on one of the games that brought me into this industry.
WHAT IS THE MOST REWARDING THING ABOUT YOUR JOB?
When players come to the Lab to try a game in production and their breath is taken by what they have in front of them. It’s also pretty rewarding to see our methods in user research and data analysis in constant evolution.
WE OFTEN TALK ABOUT THE VIBE AT UBISOFT QUÉBEC. DESCRIBE THIS VIBE IN 3 WORDS.
Proximity, creativity and reactivity.
WHAT WAS YOUR SONG IN 2005?
It’s hard to only pick one. I like every kind of music. But if I had to choose, I’d probably say Seventeen Years from Ratatat.
WHAT WAS YOUR GAME 2005?
World of Warcraft. I was in for a ride. ?
UBISOFT QUÉBEC IN 15 YEARS, WHAT WILL IT LOOK LIKE?
➝ A green studio with (almost) 0 waste, compost and a garden on the roof of the building.
➝ Cool initiatives like English lessons for employees and by employees in the form of dungeon and dragon games with English DMs and French players who are trying to learn.
➝ A growing number of employees, but also strong communities within them.
➝ 4 lead projects with Ubi Nord overflowing with talent.
➝ A dude who walks around singing and distributing celery…