— 20 July 2023 | Portrait
Together We Are Ubisoft Québec: Arnaud, Game Intelligence Analyst
Globetrotting, motorcycle enthusiast and meticulous professional who works on international projects: but who are we talking about here?
You’d think we’d be describing the career of a Hollywood star, but it’s Arnaud Lévesque-Poirier, game intelligence analyst at Ubisoft Québec, we’re talking about!
“It’s a bit flashier to say it in English than in French: analyste de jeu,” he says with a laugh when asked to name his official title. That said, no matter what you call him, his role within the Ubisoft Data Office is anything but beige.
He and his team are one of the reasons we can determine – scientifically! – whether a weapon is too powerful in a game or whether you can find enough resources in a level.
And all this… thanks to the power of data!
Science at the Service of the Game
“Everything the player does in the game, such as actions, purchases or menu navigation, we are the ones who make sure that it’s properly tracked within the game,” Arnaud explains in a few words.
On paper, it sounds simple enough, but it’s a process that involves many teams and is ongoing before, during and after the development of a game,” he says.
If the various members of the production team initially tell Arnaud and his team what they want to monitor and analyze in the project, it’s then up to the game intelligence analysts to figure out how to do it. And once everything is implemented in the game code by the programmers, it will also be the analysts who will be in charge of collecting the data, especially during playtests at the studio. And finally, it will be up to them to interpret the data and present it to the production colleagues who have requested it.
Does this sound like a scientific process to you? That’s because it is scientific!
That’s probably why when we ask Arnaud to name THE most important quality you need to have as a game intelligence analyst, he doesn’t hesitate for a second: you have to be thorough!
“It’s very, very easy to get a number out of a database, but are you sure that it’s exactly the RIGHT number? That there were no problems in the entire process before you came up with that number,” he gives as an example.
In that sense, it’s especially important to be thorough when you know the impact that this data can have on the final version of a project.
Because if a game seems “fair” and balanced in its difficulty, in its battles, in the resources and the equipment it provides to the player, it is partly thanks to this data collected, which has allowed to adjust the different mechanics of the project.
All Over the World
It may seem relatively atypical for an analyst to work in the video game industry, but Arnaud’s previous job wasn’t much more conventional.
As an IT consultant and then a data analyst for Développement international Desjardins, he travelled the world for nearly ten years to implement business intelligence systems in various locations!
“It ranged from installations to configurations, including training people in the proper use and maintenance of the systems,” he describes.
Initially called upon to help set up an inter-credit union system in Haiti following the 2010 earthquake, he eventually set foot in a number of countries in Africa and Asia as part of his job.
And if Arnaud already had a certain interest in travel before taking on this position, his years at Desjardins have transformed him into a true globetrotter… and not just any globetrotter: a globetrotter who isn’t afraid of being out of his element.
“That’s what I liked the most, actually. Most of these destinations are countries where I probably would never have gone if it hadn’t been for work. Togo, Mali or Burkina Faso, these are not places that are touristy. Not at all. But once you’re there, the people are so warm and happy to meet you,” says Arnaud, who adds that he particularly liked the human aspect of these trips.
“To be able to work with them directly and not go there as a tourist, to be invited to dinner with their families… it was really a great experience,” he recounts.
However, a reorganization led him to look for another job and it was by following another of his passions, video games, that he ended up at Ubisoft Québec.
It was an upheaval, of course, but one that led him to take the plunge into a field he had had his eye on for quite some time and which, in the end, he feels has taken him even further professionally.
“Desjardins is a job that has allowed me to travel a lot. The financial data analyst side, however, was less in my field of interest. In the video game, it’s quite the opposite. It’s the kind of data that I love, that interests me and that makes me better at my job… precisely because I’m interested! I’m still a gamer and I’ve always loved statistics, so it’s a great mix of the two worlds,” says the game intelligence analyst.
A Taste for Adventure
That said, it is not because Arnaud is no longer “obliged” to travel that he has lost his taste for adventure, on the contrary!
The pandemic and nine years of travelling around the world may have initially slowed down the ardour of this friendly Quebecer, but by his own admission, the desire to leave again is slowly taking hold. A desire that he does not yet know how he will fulfill.
“I’m really a ‘go with the flow’ kind of person, so it’s rare that I make plans well in advance. I might just wake up one morning and say I’m going to Japan or South America,” he confides with a smile.
And until then, there will always be his sport bike to give him that little dose of adrenaline, as he travels somewhere between 6,000 and 7,000 kilometres every year on two wheels.
That… and the pleasure of making sure that Ubisoft delivers the best games possible, in all scientific objectivity!
Your go-to comfort food?
The underrated TV series that everyone needs to discover?
The Good Cop, on Netflix
The first tape you bought?
“I don’t remember the first one I bought, but I think the first one I got was a Vilain Pingouin tape!”
A person, anyone, you’d like to chat with over a drink?
Astronaut Chris Hadfield
The first app you open in the morning?
If you were not a game intelligence analyst, you would be…?
Console or PC
What do you put in your coffee?
“It depends on how I feel! Black, cream or sugar, I do everything. I’m not consistent on that!”