Game Changers | Marilou Lopez-Aguilera Sport Changers is a sequence of profiles on the teams and people going the additional mile to make the video games business a greater place. These interviews embody of us from world wide serving to to enhance situations and attitudes in direction of range, fairness, inclusion, accessibility, psychological well being and extra. You possibly can learn extra Sport Changers interviews right here.

New Caledonia is an archipelago within the Southwest Pacific Ocean, a set of islands that kind an abroad territory of France. It’s dwelling to the indigenous Kanak folks in addition to Europeans, varied completely different languages and a novel tradition of its personal.

It’s not the standard setting for a online game, however Montreal-based studio Awaceb is decided to vary that with upcoming journey Tchia – and a big a part of its work has been boosted considerably by group supervisor Marilou Lopez-Aguilera.

Describing herself as “someplace between HR and a studio supervisor, and likewise the happiness supervisor,” she will not be solely accountable for group welfare and operations however has additionally been instrumental within the recreation’s manufacturing.

Lopez-Aguilera was born in France however raised in New Caledonia. She relocated to Paris at 17 to review artwork and theatre, in accordance together with her art-loving mother and father’ dream of her turning into an actress, however “rebelled” by beginning a profession in communications and HR. She finally realized about a chance at Awaceb (then primarily based in Bordeaux) – based by Phil Crifo and Thierry Boura, who’re each additionally from New Caledonia – and utilized, touchdown her first ever position within the video games business.

“Once you discuss concerning the tradition or the folks on this nation, it is actually essential to have these folks concerned”

Constructing a online game round New Caledonia in Tchia is a significant ardour for Crifo and Boura, a ardour that Lopez-Aguilera shares.

“The tradition of this place is unknown and magical and improbable and actually wealthy, so it was a great way to speak about it by way of video video games,” she says. “And it is essential that we now have folks from New Caledonia within the group to speak about it, as a result of clearly, once you discuss concerning the tradition or the folks on this nation, it is actually essential to have these folks concerned. You possibly can spend two weeks in New Caledonia, however you will not know a lot about New Caledonia and New Caledonian tradition.”

Being a group of 9, naturally many studio members ventured into completely different disciplines of growth – and even Lopez-Aguilera stepped out of her consolation zone to enhance the sport’s authenticity. Given her mother and father’ hopes for her to take up appearing, she spent her childhood attending a theatre within the New Caledonian capital of Nouméa as soon as per week. As such, she introduced an in depth data of the native actors and actresses, and took the lead in sourcing the voice forged for Tchia. She even directed the audio recordings.

“It is a small place. So, principally each actress and actor in New Caledonia, I knew them – I knew their names a minimum of. It was straightforward for me to see, ‘Okay, I’ve the situation. I see these characters, and this character is that this one, and this character is that this one.’ And I used to be in a position to try this.

“Among the actors that I knew did not work out. We needed to meet the aunt, or the mom, or the cousin of everybody, and go to their place and do a studying of the textual content, and generally it was cool, generally it wasn’t. Generally, we did assessments within the studio for vocal issues, and we took hours, and on the finish, we did every part we are able to, and it wasn’t adequate. It was a journey to make it, however a wonderful journey.”

She provides that it is essential to have an genuine forged for any type of leisure, citing 2021 movie Home of Gucci and the Italian accents the forged affected for instance.

Lopez-Aguilera directed the entire auditions and audio recordings

“They do not actually have Italian accents,” she says. “It is tremendous bizarre. There are Italian actors, there are good ones.

“Once you’re speaking about Kanak folks, they’ve historical past. So it is actually essential for us to make voices from the folks in New Caledonia who’re residing this life, by way of this recreation, as a result of this recreation is speaking concerning the tradition. We now have to make everybody discuss concerning the tradition of this nation.”

Lopez-Aguilera is especially happy with the casting of Tchia, the titular character. The younger lady who voices her was the identical age because the character after they recorded her traces and even seems to be like her. The actress additionally had enter into the script, serving to to tailor the traces to make it authentically sound just like the ideas and reactions of a younger lady.

Regardless of her personal origins as a possible actress, Lopez-Aguilera doesn’t voice a task within the recreation – though she says there’s a music that options the complete group.

The group supervisor even travelled to New Caledonia to deal with the casting and audio recording, spending seven weeks away from the Bordeaux studio. However her official position was nonetheless a precedence when it got here to making ready for the journey.

“Earlier than leaving, I used to be like, ‘Are you okay? Are you positive you will be okay for seven weeks with out me?'” she laughs. “And the jet lag is actually intense between France and New Caledonia. It is ten hours. So, I used to be like, ‘Are you actually positive? I won’t be able to speak to you.’ Nevertheless it went effectively.”

Even when again at dwelling, she was in fixed contact with the group members which might be primarily based in New Caledonia, from the voice actors to the engineers recording genuine sounds, the translator consulting on the script and extra.

“As a result of we now have actual landscapes within the recreation, it was phenomenal to have the group see them in actual life”

She additionally determined it was essential the 2 groups meet, and that the studio members get a greater really feel of the nation they have been constructing a recreation round, so she organized a two-week tour for the complete studio to New Caledonia. Lopez-Aguilera describes it as partly a present to the group, but additionally one other means to make sure authenticity.

“After we employed folks, they’d one hour of me telling them the historical past of New Caledonia, speaking about issues in New Caledonia – however that is not sufficient,” she explains. “And since we now have actual landscapes within the recreation that exist in New Caledonia, it was phenomenal to have them see it in actual life. For me, it was so essential.”

The journey additionally gave Awaceb the possibility to gauge ideas from New Caledonians on how effectively they have been doing with the sport. Lopez-Aguilera organized for a visit to Lifou, the place locals may see the sport in motion, in addition to its use of Drehu – certainly one of three indigenous languages spoken within the nation, the dominant language of Lifou and the chosen language for the sport.

“It was tremendous essential for us to current the sport to folks in Lifou. We used actual languages, however clearly we’re not Kanak, we do not communicate Drehu. However we’re from New Caledonia, and needed to indicate to folks [how we used] the language of the island.”

The expertise has been a rewarding one for Lopez-Aguilera, and he or she’s eager to emphasize the significance of studios totally researching the cultures they depict of their video games.

“It is one thing that I believe is actually apparent,” she says. “For those who’re speaking a couple of tradition, you want the folks concerned in that tradition to speak about it. I can not think about a recreation about Kanak folks in New Caledonia performed by folks in Los Angeles. We now have to work with [local] folks as a result of it is essential they’ve their values in it, values that I’ve in my coronary heart. It counts, it issues.”

Tchia is constructed across the cultures distinctive to New Caledonia

Lopez-Aguilera can also be eager to see extra builders discover completely different cultures of their titles, ones hardly ever explored in video video games.

“I believe we put a lot strain on the video video games business, but it surely’s nonetheless younger and so it is easy to leap to issues that folks already know,” she says. “They’re comfy with shooters, they’re comfy with issues [set] in Japan, they’re comfy with issues with vehicles driving quick. And since they’re comfy with it, making it, enjoying it, the those who give cash to video video games are comfy with it as a result of they know everyone goes to purchase that sort of factor.

“So many narrative [games are] speaking about little cultures and deep [topics], they exist however they do not have cash to be proven to the world. We aren’t the primary indie to do that. However speaking about cultures… it is the identical as films, it’ll take time. For the primary 50 years of cinema, the flicks have been the identical [themes and settings]. They did not take the time to maneuver to different nations and make it deeper or speak about issues that no one knew.”

“So many narrative [games are] speaking about little cultures however they do not have cash to be proven to the world”

She provides that that is additionally a consequence of most video games growth studios being concentrated in huge cities, including: “In fact, you might have issues on-line, however in New Caledonia, if you wish to apply and learn to make video video games, principally you possibly can’t. Or perhaps you’re, however you’re the just one. So, it is fairly tough to provide one thing concerning the nation you’re residing in. It is simpler to make a recreation once you’re residing in Paris, and it is simpler to speak concerning the issues folks know in Paris.”

Nonetheless, she urges builders to discover new potentialities in the case of settings for his or her video games and presents recommendation on tips on how to make them genuine.

“Working with those who reside within the nation you’re speaking about, within the tradition you’re speaking about, throughout the stuff you’re speaking about – it is the one factor. For me, it is apparent. It helped us on this mission in some ways. We do not communicate Drehu, so it was apparent that we needed to work with a translator.

“I’ve a very good instance. Within the textual content, we now have the phrase ‘orphans’ within the recreation, and the translator, he was capable of say to us that ‘orphan’ in Drehu would not exist. As a result of the truth that a toddler would not have any mother and father would not exist, as a result of if the actual mother and father aren’t there, in the event that they’re useless, in the event that they’re residing, they do produce other mother and father. Orphan will not be a phrase that exists in Drehu.

“That sort of instance – I’ve a thousand of them – is why it is actually essential for us to make a recreation speaking concerning the tradition with that sort of factor. As a result of I used to be residing on this island, however I am not a Kanak and I do not know every part.”