- Role: Junior Programmer
- Company: Ubisoft Berlin
- Location: Berlin, Germany (previously Lyon and Besançon in France)
We chatted with Amélia, a junior programmer for Ubisoft Berlin.
QRM: Can you tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do in the games industry?
Amélia: I am a 24-year-old woman doing gameplay and UI programming at Ubisoft. I am also a game jam organizer and I am currently learning project management for my next career path.
QRM: How long have you been involved in the game industry, and what projects have you worked on? What are you working on currently?
Amélia: I started making games in 2013 with university friends for some French game development contest. We got certain successes, and tried a lot of stuff. Because 'game dev' was not a big thing in our small French region, we started organizing game jams in 2014 and we become regional organizers for the global game jam in 2015. And since we started, we’ve grown from 20 jammers to more than a 100!
After finishing my masters degree in computer graphics and game programming in 2016, I worked for a middleware company making interactive applications, game programming outsourcing and their own game engine. After some hard times here when I started my gender transition, I moved to Germany to work at Ubisoft Berlin. I have been here since July 2018 and have had a far better time!
Also, I am in the Ubisoft graduate program, an internal 2 year program for young graduated students. I was doing gameplay programming for the Far Cry brand and I am now doing UI programming. Because of this program, I will also move to another Ubisoft studio next year in order to expand my skills.
QRM: What inspired you to get started in the games industry?
Amélia: I was always interested by the industry and decided to make it a job goal after seeing Indie Game: The Movie. Since then I also started listening to some fantastic developers like, Jennifer Scheurle or the Accidental Queens team, who always gave me the ambition to create meaningful player experiences and work on making the industry a better place for everyone!
QRM: In what ways do you feel your experiences as a queer person manifest in the games you work on, and influence the work you do?
Amélia: Being queer did influence the work I want to do. I am not able to explore the subjects I would love to yet, but I have the ambition to bring some of them into the AAA industry. Or at least I will try. Otherwise, I always bring inclusivity and personal experiences into my side projects.
QRM: Do you have a favourite queer character—in games or media more generally? If so, what is it about them that makes them your favourite?
Question asked by @kamienw.
Amélia: Well, there are some great characters I could choose from, like all my RPG characters, which are trans-women because I can say so! But the ones I really love are the cast of Night in the Wood; Mae and her friends are queer in a very subtle way and their fear and questioning during the game really touched me.
QRM: Have you ever encountered roadblocks in trying to include queer characters in games? What do you think is preventing greater diversity within games?
Question asked by @dustinalex91.
Amélia: I haven't encountered that kind of roadblock yet as I am still young in the industry. But I might tell you more if I get to pitch a game in the coming years. 😉
For me, what is preventing diversity is the fear or risk. Big companies do not want to go into a PR nightmare, because putting queer characters [in your game] could, sadly, create social media noise and strong opinions as some people still thing those characters are the doombringer of the industry. But take some risks, fellow devs; this is what will make a difference at the end.
Beside this, I think more diversity will not mean good diversity. It is a great thing to add a character from any social minority, but if you do, please stop going for tokenism and/or writing tropes, and to avoid this, hire people from those minorities and listen to them. If the industry itself gains in diversity, the games will follow.
QRM: Why do you think it is important that queer audiences are able to see themselves represented in the games they play, and in the developers who make the games they see? What can we do to improve the industry for queer audiences and devs?
Amélia: For me, as a queer person, it is important to see yourself in a game, or any media, because it eases that feeling of being alone, of being an outcast. When I see a queer character, I feel valued and meaningful.
We, as game makers, can really improve the industry with direct action. Like hiring staff from different minorities, and making space for people to speak about issues.
QRM: Have you ever mentored somebody in your role in games, or been mentored? If so, what made these experiences worthwhile for you?
Question asked by @pepelanova.
Amélia: I haven't been able to do a lot of mentoring as I am still fresh out of school, but I am really looking forward to it: to give advice and share my experience.
But I have the luck to have some great mentors now. Mentoring is part of the Ubisoft culture and, even though I started only three months ago, I already have two great people helping me to expand my skills and find my path.
Being listened to, being able to hear about their various experiences, and also having them to help me find and work on my personal goals is what makes it fulfilling and meaningful. So yeah, thank you for your amazing work M. And Q. (Now I realize that their initials make me sound like an MI6 spy).
QRM: In what ways can non-queer folk increase and support queer diversity present within games, as well as in the industry more broadly? How can we all work to support intersectional approaches to diversity, and why is this important?
Amélia: So, what I say to my non-queer folk is this: listen to us, ask questions and get better. Understand that you can’t understand everything and, with this in mind, accept our differences, our experiences and our recommendations. And that is advice for everyone. For example, I am white and therefore have to listen a lot to people of color.
And to do so in the industry, you need to hire more of us. We might come from backgrounds you’re not used to working with, but trust me, this will bring a lot of great things.
Finally, if you are not working in the industry, then support and buy games and work made by minority developers. I can assure you that you will discover some wonderful pieces of art.
QRM: Is there a message that you would like to share with the queer game players, game studies researchers, and other interested folks who comprise the Queerly Represent Me community?
Amélia: Well, if you read this until here, then always remember that you matter no matter what is happening and always take care of each other.
And stay hydrated, especially if you work with computers!
Check out more from Amélia on her Twitter.