Ribeiro: “My goal is to inspire girls around the world to run for their dreams and become leaders in their own activities”

Before being a pioneer in virtual reality games in Brazil, Ana Ribeiro was an entrepreneur who sold pies. When she managed to sell four thousand snacks per month, she took a course at Sebrae, called Empretec. It was then when she discovered she didn’t want to be a public servant or to sell pies, but to develop games, which was her childhood dream. G&M News talked to her about her Pixel Ripped game series. Read this very interesting interview here.

With clear ideas, she expresses the need for more innovation, female characters and a more diverse environment in the video game industry.
With clear ideas, she expresses the need for more innovation, female characters and a more diverse environment in the video game industry.

How did your relationship with video games initiated? What did you play when you were a child? What games inspired you? What was your favorite title?

I have three brothers and I have been lucky enough to play video games with them all my life, but I also competed with them for the use of consoles, haha! My favorite video games are the Phantom System and Mega Drive. I also really liked Megaman 2, Super Mario World and Sonic The Hedgehog.

How was Pixel Ripped created?

My inspiration came from a dream where I was in a room playing video games and the game I was playing was evolving its graphics to future times. The appearance of the room where I was in was also modifying. When I woke up, I thought about that, and look beyond my own life as a player since the late 1980s. Being a girl with three brothers and only one console, it was difficult. Video game marketing was very focused on boys then, and I was the only girl fighting for having some game time when they weren’t using the console. After that, we bought a Nintendo 64 and played a lot together. We enjoyed these precious moments so much, so I always kept a very vivid memory of how games were really like back then. In addition, a strong inspiration for Pixel Ripped 1989 was limited time and multitasking. During my childhood, it was difficult to have time to play. I always had to do something else or had a limited time before my siblings, school, or my parents called me to help them with some tasks! The series of the game has evolved a lot since the beginning. Originally, in the first prototype, the game was just about winning a classic video game. One day, a random bug caused the main character Dot’s sprite to leave the screen for the 3D world. When I suddenly saw this, it looked more like a feature than a bug! And as soon as one of the most special and surprising moments of the game emerged, it quickly became an important pillar and a fundamental concept of the entire series.

What is the reason for choosing retro aesthetics? What games did you seek to honor? Why are they historic to you?

Pixel Ripped is designed as a series of games and I have a place for all my favorite games and characters. I remember even before we announced which games we were going to reference, fans got most of the main ones, like Zelda, Metroid, Castlevania, Star Fox, Ninja Gaiden, Alex Kidd, Super Ghouls ’n Ghosts and Donkey Kong.

The game uses the Virtual Reality (VR) system. What future do you see for this technology?

I really wanted to create a game that transported people into the past, and virtual reality was the technology that best allowed it. VR is here to stay and even more so during the pandemic, it proved to be the best medium for connecting people, making it possible for us to be closer in lockdown times.

According to the specialized portal Metacritic, Pixel Ripped 1989 is considered one of the best video games of 2020. What does this mention mean to you?

It is really a great achievement for us. It is an honor to really stand beside titles like Streets of Rage 4. Receiving this positive feedback from our audience is the best recognition that any developer can expect.

What can you tell us about the sequel of the original title? How challenging was to continue the story?

Two episodes have already been released: Pixel Ripped 1989 is a tribute to 8-bit machines like NES and Game Boy, and Pixel Ripped 1995 was inspired by the war between Nintendo v SEGA consoles of the 16-bit era. But we have planned another three titles to be released in the series. Each episode will refer to other major milestones in the gaming industry, such as the Golden Age of Arcades, 8 Bit era, Atari and early home consoles, Video Game Crash, the emergence of 3D games such as Nintendo 64 and PlayStation 1, and the Internet era s well.

Taking a look on your Instagram account, we discovered you’re also a cosplayer. For a long time, cosplay has been related to manga and anime. What is the reason for this new relationship between cosplay and video games?

When I designed Dot, the main character in Pixel Ripped, I decided that she would become the toughest video game character I could ever create. She would represent all those heroes that I grew up playing with and that I always dreamed of becoming. I went far beyond that dream and even became Dot for cosplaying her character at events. It’s my way to interact with fans and also with the rest of the developers, to personify my character in the game.

You are also a creator and innovator. Historically, video games were related to men. Do you realize that there currently are more women involved in video games than ever, and that they have more recognition? Are there more spaces for them, both players and creators?

All I can remember from my childhood are games with strong male protagonists. I had this growing frustration of never finding good games with strong female leads. Now, my goal is to inspire girls around the world to run for their dreams and become leaders in their own activities. I thought that, when I grew up, I would like to have stronger women to admire, someone to follow up who was not a male figure. I think that, if we continue with our hard work, we can prove to the world that women are relevant to the sector, launching great creations and making history. In this sense, we will inspire these younger girls to become leaders in the future as well. In a time of new technologies such as VR/AR/XR and so many ‘Rs’ to come that we can’t even imagine, we need innovation to break through and really change industry’s trends. Bringing variety in genre, experience and themes, we can increase the chances of innovation in the right direction. We are in a blue ocean now, and we have to get the most out of the box to become better persons and professionals. All this variety of visions that women, transgender, gays and men can bring together will only increase our chances of success. The minority group in any sector generally struggles to be accepted. We can start by helping people around us, supporting them and recognizing their efforts. By empowering women, transsexuals and gays, we can help them become more confident and successful, inspiring others to also join this industry and help it transform into a more diverse and welcoming environment. The Facebook group ‘ARVR Women and Allies‘ was a great space that I chose and that helped me when I sought support. It helped me a lot to share experiences with other women in the industry. I strongly recommend it.