Stéphanie Pépin: the brain of a video game

The School of Digital Arts, Animation and Design at the University of Quebec at Chicoutimi (NAD-UQAC) once again distinguished itself in the Ubisoft university competition by winning an award. Among the winners, Stéphanie Pépin, a native of Saint-Mathias-sur-Richelieu.

“For the first time making a game, having received five nominations and winning the best design, I am very happy with it and would like to thank our entire team. It was on the ninth day that Stéphanie Pépin, a student enrolled in the DESSdesign de jeux at NAD, welcomed the results of the 12th edition of the Ubisoft University Competition.

On April 28, Stephanie’s team learned that they had just won top honors in the “Best Game Design” category, in addition to several nominations in other categories for their Brain Fried game prototype.

And yet it was not the competition that was missing. Coming from 12 universities in Quebec, a record 184 students worked in teams for 10 weeks to reinvent a video game from scratch.

Themed “Student XP: An Introspective Look at Your Student Life”, Stéphanie’s team, with the support of mentors from Ubisoft studios in Montreal, Quebec City and Saguenay, drew the attention of a jury chaired by Leroy Athanasoff, creative director at Ubisoft, who said he was “impressed with the creativity and quality of the work performed by the students. It’s so refreshing to be able to immerse yourself in the diverse and inventive experiences of the next generation! It reminds us how rich the medium of video games is and how much we have yet to discover.”

The story of the game devised by Stéphanie’s team seems to have met all the criteria. “We imagined the story of two students who had to turn in work at the end of the semester that they had forgotten. They only have one day for that. The game consists of successfully completing the required task by managing a brain in panic mode. Various events will be generated by the game to create fear to stop the progress of labor. The students will be able to help each other”, summarizes Stéphanie.

“For the first time making a game, having received five nominations and winning the best design, I am very happy with it and would like to thank our entire team. – Stephanie Pepin

Ten weeks of effort
Stéphanie and her seven teammates were there studying for 10 weeks, 15 hours a week, deeply involved in the competition, even though they knew the game would not be released. “For various reasons, we have decided in mutual consultation with the team not to develop the game further,” says Stéphanie. And even if the contest is hosted by Ubisoft, Isabelle Lacasse, project manager at Ubisoft, is formal. “The game is 100% young people. This competition is a way to connect with the best students and secure the next generation. The University Contest is one of the many initiatives of the Ubisoft Education program. In 12 years, 189 game prototypes have been developed by 1,507 students from all over Quebec. In addition to supporting 398 employees, Ubisoft offered a total of $154,000 in scholarships and 776 medals. Among the discoveries of the competition, more than 260 people were recruited.

For Stéphanie, a graduate of her program, her resume has not yet been sent to Ubisoft, but she will have a nice business card to hand over with this award. Especially since Ubisoft is committed to offering internships and jobs to at least 10 participants who have distinguished themselves during the competition. During the last edition, about thirty participants were hired in studios in Quebec.

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The world of video game design, long thought of as a boy’s world, is rebalancing. “In my program we were 3 girls out of 14 students. We can observe parity at NAB level, says Stéphanie. I even have four teachers. †

For Antoine Leduc-Lebelle, head of public relations for Ubisoft Montreal, it’s the same observation. “Last year, 30% of new employees were women. It is a long-term job in occupations that are traditionally more masculine. There are many more women in this industry than before. It is very positive and gives hope. †
“Even within the jury, we were not far from gender equality,” added Ms Lacasse.

Founded in 1992 and located in Montreal, the School of Digital Arts, Animation and Design of the University of Quebec in Chicoutimi (NAD-UQAC) is a training and research and development institution in the field of 3D animation, effect visuals, design and digital arts that, over the past 28 years, has trained thousands of 3D animators who today work in the fields of film, television and video games at renowned companies around the world.

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