Sunday, June 28, 2015


Why video games are superior to movies, how to make machinima for fun and profit, and the dearth of African VG-makers in North America

Leo Lucien-Bay is a cinematic designer on the BioWare blockbuster video games Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3.

In addition to essentially “directing” the playable dialogue sequences of those games, Lucien-Bay is also an animator in the hacker’s form of animation called machinima, also pronounced ma-kin-ema (like cinema). He wrote and directed an award-winning machinima called “Beast” that got him his job at BioWare.

Lucien-Bay’s originally from England and lived part of his young life in Cameroon. He’s a lifelong fanboy who favours DC over Marvel. He hates bragging almost as much as he hates smiling. And he’s made a life for himself and his young family in Edmonton. In full disclosure, we worked together on Mass Effect 2 and we’re friends.
In today’s episode, Leo Lucien-Bay discusses:
  • How you can make machinima for endless fun and massive profit (but not really) 
  • Which game engine you’ll need to commandeer to make machinima
  • His opinion of Roger Ebert’s claim that video games aren’t art 
  • The consumer cost per hour of playing games vs. watching a movie 
  • The training required to be a cinematic designer, and what’s even more valuable than a diploma or a degree
  • Lucien-Bay’s perspectives on being a role model and why there aren’t more Africans in North America’s video game studios, and
  • The difference between the work of a cinematic designer and a cinematic animator.

This episode’s conversation is from deeps in the archives of the Grand Lodge of Imhotep. This interview originally ran on my show Africentric Radio on CJSR FM 88.5 Edmonton on April 4, 2012. Leo Lucien-Bay spoke with me at the restaurant beneath the offices of BioWare in Edmonton on March 1, 2012, just after completing work on Mass Effect 3.

He began by talking about the personal demands of career mobility.

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