Pies, psychology and Pixel Rift: the story of Brazil’s first VR game creator

Matthew Jarvis
Pies, psychology and Pixel Rift: the story of Brazil’s first VR game creator

Ana Ribeiro gave up everything to move to the UK and start a new life developing for the Oculus Rift.

MCV discovers her fascinating journey

Asuccessful business and steady wage would leave many satisfied, but Ana Ribeiro's passion led her to give it all up and travel almost 9,000km in pursuit of her dream of becoming a game developer.

I worked for the government for five years,” she explains.

I wanted to do something new, so I moved out and came to England. I enrolled on a three-year games course at the NFTS (National Film and Television School).

"My experience making games is short – I actually have a degree in psychology.”

Ribeiro also sacrificed her flourishing business selling empadas – a type of Brazilian pot pie.

I decided to change my life and start anew,” she explains.

I wanted to do what I wanted to do. I searched for the best place in Europe to do a games course; there was Germany, and the UK. I knew English, so because of that, and because I already liked England, I decided to come here.”

IN LOVE WITH VR

It sounds like a brave move – and it is. But listening to Ribeiro discuss her upcoming game Pixel Rift, it's clear her ambition was always set to trump the safe option. This drive is mirrored in her choice of platform for the game – the Oculus Rift VR headset.

The first time I tried the Oculus Rift it blew my mind,” enthuses Ribeiro. I was really motivated to work in such a strong medium. I can't even begin to describe it – it was just such a strong experience.

The first time I tried the Oculus Rift it blew my mind. I was really motivated to work in such a strong medium."

Ana Ribeiro

I've never wanted to make a game where someone has already done something like it before. Doing something for Oculus was more of a challenge for me.

I also didn't want to go for a market that was already saturated like mobile or shooters; I knew I would struggle to gain any attention because so many things had already been done, and it would be impossible to compete with so many big companies already in the market. Virtual reality is somewhere where everyone is trying new and interesting things.”

Created as Ribeiro's final project for her course, Pixel Rift has already garnered much critical praise and interest – and has made Ribeiro a national icon of sorts.

Apparently I'm the first Brazilian in the world to make a game for the Oculus Rift,” she states. There are lots of people in Brazil who want to make games, but very few who actually get the chance to design them.”

RIFT IN TIME

Ribeiro is only at the start of her career, but it's clear her ambition is set to take her and her creation a long way.

I plan to do as much with Pixel Rift as I can,” she says. I'm hoping to see whether I can do something with Sony, because there's obviously Project Morpheus as well as the Oculus Rift.”

Ribeiro adds that investors are lining up to bring the student project to a wider audience.

I'm talking to investors and seeing how I can bring the project along,” she explains. I hope to bring Pixel Rift out this year, so hopefully Oculus is out by the end of 2015. I'm also really interested in getting the game on Samsung's [mobile virtual reality headset] Gear VR; the challenge will just be optimising it for phones. Even if I don't get investment this year, I'm still going to do the game.”

And beyond that? Ribeiro reaffirms that her passion for virtual reality will continue to see her iterate on the budding platform.

There's a lot still to do on Pixel Rift, so I might do another game in about two years' time,” she says.

I'm still motivated to work in virtual reality, so, at least for now, I'm not planning to do another type of game.”

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