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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 21 July 2018

UAE students can win chance to work with leading French video games developer

Winner of university competition will get six-month internship with Ubisoft, known for publishing games for franchises such as Assassin's Creed and the Tom Clancy series

UAE students are bidding to work with top games developer Ubisoft, who have released smash hits such as the Assassin's Creed series. Courtesy of Ubisoft.  
UAE students are bidding to work with top games developer Ubisoft, who have released smash hits such as the Assassin's Creed series. Courtesy of Ubisoft.  

A number of lucky UAE students are making a French connection in a bid to win the chance to work with global video games developer Ubisoft.

A competition across at least seven third-level institutions, including Khalifa and Zayed universities, will see rival teams try to develop their own video game.

It is game on for entrants as the winner will get a six-month internship with Ubisoft, known for publishing best sellers such as Assassin's Creed and the Tom Clancy's franchise.

It’s all part of “gamelab”, a new project from the French Embassy in the UAE and Ubisoft Abu Dhabi which aims to ultimately train talented students here.

Starting in September, interested students will be asked to develop a video game concept, helped by mentors from Ubisoft through a series of workshops at the universities. The winner will be selected towards the end of the coming academic year.

The deal was signed by Ludovic Pouille, French Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates and Yannick Theler, managing director of Ubisoft studios in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.

France is perhaps better known for its cultural collaboration such as Louvre Abu Dhabi but now it’s showcasing its technology expertise.

“Louvre Abu Dhabi has brought a lot of interest into what France could do outside its borders,” said Mr Pouille.

“France was mostly known for gastronomy, museums and history but not really for technology, so now we are ready to connect in what is not so well known. We look to the past but also to the future. This is the place to do so.”

Ubisoft is a French company that formally started operations here in 2011. From just ten people then, it’s now grown to 55 people across different areas of video game development. Mr Theler said the UAE was picked as a location because more developers were needed and the region had a significant percentage of people below the age of 25.

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“We thought it would be a good idea to come here and try to develop the studio, programmes for schools and get young people interested in these jobs. That was the vision,” said Mr Theler.

The gaming industry is growing rapidly here and more companies are now localising content and offering customer support in Arabic. The first game to be created by Ubisoft here was CSI: Hidden Crimes and was made available for free on mobile and Facebook. NCIS: Hidden Crimes was released on mobiles in 2016.

“What’s important is to tell universities that we are here and developing games and games can be a job,” said Mr Theler.

“People like to play but not everyone knows you can make a career out of it. It also will be channel of recruitment – we really want to hire people from here. We need youth.”

More information about the competition will be made available in the coming months.