Reflections: A Ubisoft Studio

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Energy and passion are often cited as key attributes a business looks for in potential employees and these are certainly in abundance with the young people undertaking the Trainee Finder programme with Reflections, Ubisoft’s only UK Triple A studio, based in Newcastle.

Giselle Stewart, General Manager at Reflections, owned by Ubisoft, which is the world’s fourth largest triple A studio, has found these qualities, and more, in the 2014/2015 group of trainees.  “They are all bright, energetic, and passionate and, without a doubt, they bring something extra to our business as they are so fresh, enthusiastic and have a unique energy,” said Giselle.

It is the second year Reflections, the UK’s longest established studio, has used Trainee Finder.  There are currently ten trainees and Giselle sees it as ‘a great opportunity for new entrants to step in and see the world of work, bridging the gap between education and employability’.

Our trainees have enough self belief to put forward their point of view and bring a noticeable contribution.” Gisele Stewart, Reflections' General Manager

Lauren Brown, 22, originally from Litchfield, Staffordshire and now living in Newcastle, had always been drawn to the world of games.  “I’ve played video games since I was four and at school did maths and science as there wasn’t an opportunity then to do computing at A level,” said Lauren.  “I went on to do Computer Science with Game Engineering at Newcastle University.  In my third year I did a dissertation in games that used finger movements to get cars around tracks in order to help kids who had difficulties using their hands.  It was from there that it was suggested I go on and do a Masters.

"After that, I was asked to come for an interview at Reflections and I got onto Trainee Finder and started in April 2014.  It’s been a wonderful opportunity and I am enjoying every aspect of it.”

Dan Bradshaw, 22, from Newcastle, was a big fan of Reflections’ Driver when he was younger. “I loved Driver and it started me making my own games and I realised I enjoyed manipulating games to the way I wanted them to be,” said Dan.

“When I came to choose my university degree, I specifically looked for the Creative Skillset accredited Ticked courses as I knew these were courses that worked closely with industry.  I eventually chose Computer Games Programming at Teesside University.  The course was absolutely amazing and directly applicable to what I wanted to do,” added Dan.

“I was asked to come for an interview at Reflections and did feel a bit conflicted as initially I wanted to work for a small indie company but on Trainee Finder I got the best of both worlds as I was in a triple A studio but involved in small prototype games with developers who worked on the games I played in my youth.”

Dan is now a full time junior programmer with Reflections and believes you have to have ‘the passion for making a game that you would have the passion of playing yourself and expect other people to enjoy’. 

I wasn’t sure what to expect as it is my first experience in industry but everyone is really supportive and positive and I am learning so much” Lauren Brown, Reflections trainee 

Max Pears, 22, is a Level Designer trainee with Reflections and a great example of determination and the benefits of networking.   “I’d always played games and particularly Driver but when it came to careers advice on games, there wasn’t a lot available,” said Max.  “So I started making games myself.  I was determined to make a game before I turned seventeen as I wanted to do it before one of the great games designers, Cliff Bleszinski, who’d created his first game at seventeen.  I did it with three weeks to go before my 17th birthday!”

Max was self taught and encourages other young people to make their own games.  “I went on to Teesside University which was amazing but I kept improving my portfolio. I also attended lots of networking events and met different people in the industry."

I started making games myself. I did it with three weeks to go before my 17th birthday!” Max Pears, Level Designer trainee

It was networking and his self starter attitude that worked for Max as, when Reflections were considering their next intake of Trainee Finders he was the person people remembered.  Giselle said, “In our studio we rarely have game design internships but due to Trainee Finder  funding, we were able to create one so I asked three of our designers if they had anyone in mind.  They all said ‘I met this guy and I want to put him forward’.  That guy was Max.”

Bryn Felton, 22, originally from Durham but now living in Newcastle, also became aware of games at a young age. “I played with my dad from when I was around three years old,” said Bryn. “It was a really old computer but I fell in  love with games straight away particularly when we found Driver. I then discovered Driver was made by Reflections and based in Newcastle which really encouraged me to believe I could find a future in games in my area.  I went to Teesside University to do Computer Games Art and at the end of university they held a show called ExpoTees which Reflections attended.  I’d also been entered and accepted for the Dare to be Digital completion which was great.  Two weeks afterwards I was offered the training at Reflections and now I am a full time employee,” continued Bryn.  “It’s been fantastic working for the fourth largest publisher in the world.  The small team sizes make great family units and it feels really good to have my voice heard.”

Giselle is in no doubt of the benefits of Trainee Finder and encourages other businesses to consider the scheme.

“As a result of Trainee Finder, Reflections can take on twice as many trainees as we have done and as we are expanding, it’s been really important and helped us enormously,” said Giselle.  

We’ve been on a journey together and we have been able to create careers and opportunities for young people and they have brought additional dynamism to our business."

Ubisoft is a leading creator, publisher and distributor of interactive entertainment and services, with a rich portfolio of world-renowned brands, including Assassin’s Creed, Just Dance, the Tom Clancy franchise, Rayman, Far Cry and Watch Dogs.  The teams throughout Ubisoft’s worldwide network of studios and business offices are committed to delivering original and memorable gaming experiences across all popular platforms, including consoles, mobile phones, tablets and PC’s. 

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