Sunday, January 17, 2021

AEW’s Aubrey Edwards on his journey through game development, pro wrestling and AEW games

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Aubrey Edwards of All Elite Wrestling is one of the toughest and most popular referees in professional wrestling today. Her penchant for not taking nonsense from stars like Chris Jericho made her as beloved as the wrestlers themselves, but before she laid the law on AEW Dynamite every Wednesday on TNT, Aubrey Edwards (real name Brittany Aubert) has spent 10 years bringing digital worlds to life in the video game industry.

During her time in the industry, she worked in various roles for several studios, most notably as a producer for the Scribblenauts franchise. With the recent announcement of AEW’s first foray into video games, Aubert finds himself in the gaming world, combining his two dream jobs into one. I sat down with Aubert to talk about all things gaming, including how she fell in love with the medium and what she accomplished during her tenure. It also clarifies what AEW Games is and what its involvement entails.

Game enabled

AEW fans who have paid attention may have heard Aubert express his love of the game in interviews, but this aspect of his life is often a hot topic of discussion in more wrestling-centric discussions. So what types of games does she like?

“I’ve actually been playing video games for a lot longer than watching wrestling,” Aubert says. “I started playing video games as soon as I can remember. My house has always been a video game house. There are pictures of my mom playing Duck Hunt pregnant with me. I played Sonic the Hedgehog with her when she was pregnant with my sister. I played NBA Jam with my dad, so it feels like gambling has always been a big part of my life in general. So when I was growing up I played Ocarina of Time in 1998 and I was like, ‘Oh man, there are people in an office out there who did this thing! It’s something I could do for a living. So from that point on, I’m like, “I’m going to make video games, and that’s going to be what I do with my life!” “

In his youth, Aubert loved JRPGs such as Final Fantasy VII, X, and Kingdom Hearts (“The original, before the story got really wacky,” Aubert says), but his taste changed as life grew. busier. In college, she fell in love with the shorter independent experiences. Aubert cites Braid, for example, as one of his all-time favorites. “My favorite game over the past year or so that I’ve played is Untitled Goose Game simply because it’s only four hours and you become a goose with a hole. It’s fantastic.”

Since the wrestling industry requires constant travel, the Switch has been Aubert’s “savior” for satisfying her gaming fix. She considers herself a child of Nintendo and is a huge fan of The Legend of franchises. Zelda and Pikmin in particular. This is a testament to his general affinity for colorful games that emphasize the light imagination over hardcore violence. “If it’s cute, adorable, and has bright colors, I’ve probably played it,” she says.

Scribblenauts and other companies

Aubert pursued his game development dreams by attending the DigiPen Institute of Technology in Redmond, WA, earning a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science. After graduating, she spent the next decade working at various studios in both development and producer roles.

Her longest tenure in a studio came at 5th Cell, where she worked on the Scribblenauts franchise for over six years. Considering Aubert’s love for whimsical games, the studio seemed perfect.

“I guess that’s part of the reason that drew me to the franchise in the first place,” she says. “I was a Nintendo kid growing up, so hearing that 5th Cell was still making Nintendo games and doing something that was cool and unique that had never been done before, I thought to myself: ‘Well, yeah, I know I,’ I’m going to apply here. “

Photo credit: Luis Yepez

Aubert served as a tool programmer for the early Scribblenauts, moved on to the role of producer for Super Scribblenauts, and eventually became a senior producer on Scribblenauts Unlimited, a launch title for the Wii U. Additionally, she oversaw the development of the game’s iOS. Port. Helping bring Maxwell’s adventures to life for so long has marked a permanent place for the franchise in Aubert’s heart; she even has a Starite tattoo on her arm.

After leaving 5th Cell, Aubert moved to WG Cells (a division of Wargaming) to work on a few mobile games, but Wargaming closed its branch before any of those projects saw the light of day. She joined City State Entertainment, a studio made up of Mythic Entertainment alumni, to help launch her studio on the West Coast. Aubert then switched to Vreal, a now defunct virtual reality game streaming platform. Although he helped develop a working alpha version, the studio ended up running out of funds and Aubert was fired.

The loss of two out of four jobs started to hurt Aubert on the industry: “I hadn’t actually shipped a game since 2012 apart from a few early alpha versions of things, so that tires you a bit.” said Aubert.

Fortunately, an unexpected opportunity appeared in the form of professional wrestling. Not only did this provide a welcome change of scenery, but ultimately served as a return path in the creation of the game.

Photo credit: Scott Lesh

Find pro and AEW wrestling games

Aubert became a wrestling fan in 2011, sparking an obsession that led Aubert to learn to officiate in 2017. Although she still worked in games full time, Aubert officiated on the independent wrestling circuit as a hobby on weekends. end. Fortunately, as his love for the sport grew, so did the opportunities; Aubert even had a brief stint in WWE as one of the referees for the Mae Young Classic 2018, a women’s wrestling tournament (she officiated the infamous bout in which Tegan Nox blew her knee against Rhea Ripley). When All Elite Wrestling formed in 2019, the young organization approached it with a full-time gig.

“Eventually he got really big,” Aubert says. “It just got to the point where I said, ‘I can go on with this gaming thing full time, or I can chase this AEW thing.’ Because at that point it’s early 2019, we have Double or Nothing coming up, no one really knows what to expect. But they’re talking about changing the world, and that always seems like a really fun thing. So I took a risk, quit the matches and joined AEW.

Photo credit: James Musselwhite

When Aubert joined AEW, she quickly gained ground for not only being one of the few female referees in mainstream wrestling, but also for her penchant for keeping men in tights lined up, imposing as they were. . AEW gained a passionate fan base, and a video game was one of the first things die-hards begged for once the business took off. Their wish came true, then some when the company unveiled AEW Games in November (via a satirical press conference) with three games in the works: a console game inspired by No Mercy and two mobile titles.

Of course, given Aubert’s background, it was obvious that she would be involved in AEW Games.

“At one point or another, someone found out that I had a background in technology,” Aubert explains. “And I sent my resume to various executives in our company and they were like, ‘Oh, you’ve been working on games for a very long time.’ So when the conversation on AEW Games started [started] to develop games, it was obvious that I was involved in that.

Aubert’s primary focus is overseeing the CEO of AEW Elite, a mobile game that allows players to book shows and manage the roster. However, she has her hands full helping with the production of all of AEW’s titles in a role that combines her experiences as a developer and hands-on producer.

“It’s almost like a hybrid role.” Said Aubert. “I do development things like I work with art and I make sure all of our characters are portrayed correctly, that our brand is portrayed correctly. I’m working with the team to work on different features and follow the design of the game we’re building with this game. I’m currently writing narrative stuff for tutorials and the like. So I do a lot of day-to-day development things at random, but at the same time I’m also acting as an editor role, working with marketing and trying to figure out what our deadlines are and working with budgets and all those different things.

We still don’t know much about AEW’s mysterious console game; for the moment, Aubert can only tell me that she “can’t wait to talk about it”. Since Aubert became a wrestling fan much later in her life, she hasn’t grown up playing beloved classics such as WWF No Mercy. That’s why she made it a priority to dust off the N64 and study No Mercy to figure out what makes it click. “We really want to make sure that what we do is what the wrestling fans want. So as a person who makes games – and it always has been – if I’m building something and trying to hit a particular vibe or a particular market, it’s my job to do the research for me. ensure that we succeed in this. “

Photo credit: Steve Yu

Wrestling and game development are two very large and often tumultuous animals. When I asked him to describe the differences, Aubert pointed out how one of the most important is adjustment to feedback.

“With games, you build something for potentially years to come, and then fans can play it when you’re done.” she explains. “You get to see this amazing reaction to what you did. With wrestling, I get this several times every Wednesday. That we have a bunch of people telling a story and, 15-20 minutes later, we know exactly how that story was viewed, and even when we have the fan reaction to something. Do they love him, don’t they love him? And that’s something that’s completely unique to any other performance medium. ”

By combining her passions into one, Brittany Aubert has proven that following your goals (especially if they involve interests you really value) can lead to dreaming dreams in ways you often can’t predict.

“I’ve always wanted to advertise a developing video game on a stage,” she says. “It had always been one of my goals in games. So all I needed was to quit matches and join a wrestling company to be successful.

You can watch Aubrey Edwards in action on AEW Dynamite every Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET on TNT and listen to her talk about wrestling as co-host of the AEW Unrestricted podcast.

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