What was your work experience before joining Watch_Dogs?
My career began after my studies in France, where I completed a Master’s in sociology on web deviations. So I was already acquainted with the web, and I was familiar with coding and web design. I’d already been in Quebec for a couple of years when I started working at Ubisoft Montréal in 2005. I started out in marketing, working on games like Rainbow Six, Splinter Cell and Far Cry. Before joining Watch_Dogs, I also ran a small department, with a few other colleagues, to offer creative support to games that were in the early design stages. I then joined Watch_Dogs after it was announced at E3 in 2012. I was approached by Stéphane Decroix (the game’s Executive Producer) to join the team as Brand Content Director.
What does your job entail?
I’m in charge of all the brand-related content, including the games, but also by-products like books, comic books, etc. I work on defining the vision of the brand and developing
it over the long term. As such, I work closely with the Watch_Dogs brand management team in Montreal, as well as the international marketing and PR teams. In my day to day, I support the creative and narrative teams around themes like “hacking” and “connected cities.” I have to do a lot of research in order to always provide them with the best support.
What does it take to be a brand content director?
You have to be passionate and curious. I already had an interest in hacking, but you need more than that. Ubisoft allowed me to attend a lot of conferences and invest time in research and networking. I got back in touch with old industry contacts and expanded my network over time. I found some very good allies – even friends – who constantly help me better my understanding. I wouldn’t be able to talk about hacking without knowing the basics, and it’s through delving into my passion, research and network that I’m able to stay current and revelant in my work.
“I was stunned at how easily I was welcomed into the hacker community.”
What was the biggest surprise when you started working on Watch_Dogs?
To be honest, I was stunned at how easily I was welcomed into the hacker community. It’s a world full of differing issues, values and opinions. I arrived with my own set of skills
and experiences, but also with an open mind and a thirst for learning, so it gelled perfectly with the community. I was able to meet all kinds of interesting people, from the professional hacker working in the Silicon Valley to the underground hacker who, for example, was covering the Arab Spring.
What has been your biggest challenge since joining the team?
My background was more theoretical, and I used to do a lot of analysis and research. My main challenge is to translate ideas into gaming experiences. With Watch_Dogs, the themes (i.e. hacking and technology) are pretty complex. We thus had to make them accessible and fun so that players could understand them and start asking themselves real questions without really realizing it.
How do these notions fit into the game?
We wanted to humanize hacking, because technology itself can be rather cold and neutral. It can be good or bad—it’s defined by how humans use it.
As such, we created missions that illustrate the specific problems that come with hacking, as well as their impact on society. The city is at the heart of the game, because it helps to depict the impact in a realistic way.
What’s your favourite place in the Mile End?
Sencha restaurant. Their noodle soup is comforting when it starts getting cold.
If you could have a super power, what would it be?
A photographic memory so I could learn and remember more stuff.
What’s your favourite game (all genres included)?
Lumines, a really good Sony PSP game. The PSP came out two days after my son was born. As soon as he’d fall asleep, I’d go and play on it for a bit. The first songs in the game are really nice and soothing, so for me, I associate the game with a feeling of rest and relaxation.
Soccer or Hockey?
Hockey for sure!
Do you have a motto?
Ordo ab chaos (Latin for “order from disorder”). I feel like the more you know, the easier it is to put order in your thoughts and create something out of them.
Play with Thomas
On Sony : Ordoabchaos
On Steam : Orph3o
On Twitter : @Orph30