from “Dishonored” to “Deathloop”, the video game without formatting

“It was love at first sight! » Dinga Bakaba still remembers the moment when he discovered Dishonored, in 2010, during his first day of work at Arkane Lyon, which had just been taken over by the American Bethesda Softworks (Skyrim). The video game, jointly developed by the French studio and its Texas branch in Austin, was only a draft. “It was visionary. I never wanted to get out of there again and I was like ‘I’m going to do everything I can to make this thing great'”remembers the game designer.

What seduces him immediately? The ability to Dishonored to encourage the player to be creative, cunning and improvise rather than rush into the pile. Indeed, he prefers experiences that are not offered as turnkey solutions to ready-made concepts: “You emotionally appropriate a game when there is some intentional friction, that’s how it is”he explains. Dishonored has multiplied the titles of “game of the year 2012”, feeding the shelves lined with heterogeneous awards in the entrance hall of the premises of the Arkane studio, in Lyon, located in the La Confluence district.

This success has not only propelled the company among the most exciting French studios of recent years, it has also given a new start for Dinga Bakaba, now director of Arkane Lyon after having produced a new flagship title, death loop (2021).

The entrance to Arkane Studio overlooks an entire wall of awards.  In Lyon, September 26, 2022.

Hesitant beginnings

At 42, this Lyonnais by adoption (he was born in Paris) makes no secret of the professional trial and error preceding his arrival at Arkane. Installed on the large sofa in a room where are arranged shelves of consoles and games of yesterday and today, he dates back to the end of the 1990s. In high school, he struggled to find his place in the system school and stopped studying after graduation. At that time, he intensely practiced capoeira, a Brazilian martial art mixed with dance and singing, which led him to do extra work and participate in video clips. His sharp silhouette also indicates that he has not abandoned discipline; he puts on the capoeira instructor costume twice a week, in his free time.

The course ” unbelievable “ of his parents, two emigrants who realized their professional dream, is then as much a model as a burden for the young man. His mother, who came from Algeria, is a university student. She has taught philosophy, psychology and has long devoted herself to African anthropology. His father is the Ivorian actor, director, director and screenwriter Sidiki Bakaba, whose footsteps he briefly considered following. “They both took the side of saying [à leurs enfants] : “You, you will do what you want and can go your own way.” Oddly enough, it might have been a little scary”he says.

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