— 8 March 2023 | Portrait
Together, We Are Ubisoft Québec: Juliette, Gameplay Programmer
In the media, on the Web, in our studios; we often talk about the “new generation”. But who is it, exactly?
This new generation is made up of young, dynamic and talented creators like Juliette Pelletier, a gameplay programmer at Ubisoft Québec.
Freshly graduated in software engineering, she was hired in May 2022, after a successful internship at the studio a year earlier. And while programming wasn’t on Juliette’s radar at first, a love of math and video games, coupled with a need to create, eventually led her towards the industry.
“At first, I wanted to be a physicist and/or mathematician, but when I got to CEGEP, I realized that I didn’t have the discipline to do a PhD and stay in school for 10 years,” Juliette recounts with a smile.
Despite a slight fear of “breaking the magic” of her favorite games by discovering the world behind the scenes, she enrolled in the software engineering program at Université Laval… and immediately fell in love with the profession.
“I had never programmed before and I completely fell in love with it,” she says.
After her first internship at Revenu Québec, there was no doubt in her mind: the next one had to be at Ubisoft Québec.
A few months earlier, Juliette had already worked with our studio on a project for one of her courses – a chatbot, to be exact – so an official reunion as part of an internship made sense.
Despite the pandemic and an almost exclusively remote adventure, the young programmer fell under the studio’s spell: a warm atmosphere, a team that is not afraid to do things differently and, above all, a lot of collaboration.
A positive experience that continued a year later when she joined the Ubisoft Québec team for good.
The image of the programmer alone in front of their computer, glued to the screen, may be a persistent cliché in popular culture, but it couldn’t be less true.
“In my math classes, it was my brain, my problem, and I figured it out by myself. Now it’s like 20 people on a case! It’s crazy how much you can combine brains and create one giant one,” Juliette points out with a laugh.
“It’s a stereotype that we all have hoods on our heads and work in the dark alone…but it’s really the opposite!”
This constant collaboration is even more true in the case of Juliette and her position as a gameplay programmer.
In a few words, the Baie-Saint-Paul native compares her role at Ubisoft Québec to that of a cook in a restaurant who prepares ingredients for the other members of the brigade, who then assemble the different dishes on the menu so that they can be served to customers.
“We’re giving tools to the designers and level designers. We don’t necessarily make the game, we make components, which are then used to build the different levels and mechanics of the game,” explains Juliette.
By her own admission, it’s a shadowy job, especially when compared to an artist or animator, for example. That said, it is no less satisfying a role for Juliette. In fact, it’s quite the opposite, because the elements her team designs end up being used throughout the game.
“It’s cool to see that it’s because of us that something works, but also to see how all the elements complement each other and form a whole,” she explains.
To Program Is to Create
When Juliette isn’t at the studio shaping the foundations of Ubisoft Québec’s next adventures, she’s writing stories, playing guitar, and is passionate about movies, video games and video editing.
In short, she creates! And, more often than not, she creates for herself. It is about expressing her creativity, quite simply.
“The poems I wrote when I was 17, I burned them afterwards,” she confides with a laugh.
This love of creation is something she brings to the studio every day, in every project she undertakes.
“I like the intersection of math and creativity, because that’s what programming is all about. Somewhere between the myth of the left brain and the right brain, I think it meets,” she illustrates.
From One New Generation to Another
As we mentioned at the outset, Juliette is part of a promising new generation of young talent that has been joining our studio for the past few years.
It’s a more diverse and inclusive generation of creators. However, Juliette is lucid: there is still a lot to do in this area. She has seen this in her software engineering cohort, where her female colleagues were rather rare, “even though there are more and more of them.”
That’s why she’s glad to see associations like Génie uELLES, a group of female students at Université Laval who want to “democratize women in engineering,” emerging. And it’s also why Juliette is involved, notably with Ubisoft Éducation, to introduce her profession to high school students in order to encourage them to embark on the adventure.
“I think we need to reach out not only to young people, but really to all young people, girls and boys, and introduce them to programming. I had never heard of it earlier in my life,” she says, adding that it is also essential to democratize programming in the broadest sense.
Not only with projects that allow kids to learn the first notions as early as possible, but also to discover that programming, in the end, is not rocket science!
“You shouldn’t be afraid of the jargon. When you’ve never programmed before, the learning curve can seem terrifying, but even if it’s hard at first, you have to keep going. It’s so much fun, you have to try it! Once you know how to program, you realize how much you can really do with it,” she emphasizes.
These words speak volumes about Juliette’s enthusiasm and prove that it’s never too early to inspire the next generation.
Your go-to comfort food?
“My mom’s spaghetti.”
The underrated TV series that everyone needs to discover?
The first CD you bought?
“Either Crazy Frog or Marie-Mai.”
A person, anyone, you’d like to chat with over a drink?
Neil Druckmann, creative director of The Last of Us
The first app you open in the morning?
Twitter or TikTok
If you were not a gameplay programmer, you would be…?
“I think I’d like to be a truck driver, because I love driving!”
Console or PC
What do you put in your coffee?