#MeetIronGalaxy – Jess Ulloa
We’re keeping with the theme of interviewing Hispanic and Latin members of Iron Galaxy all month long. Today, we have a fiery creative who is always chasing new cultural experiences. Meet an artist with a knack for finding excitement around every corner.
Iron Galaxy: Hello there. Tell us your name and what would you do here at Iron Galaxy?
Jess Ulloa: Hey there! I’m Jess Ulloa and I am a VFX artist here at Iron Galaxy. As a VFX artist, you have the opportunity to work on anything from fiery spells to insect swarms to threatening storms. It’s the extra bit of magic that makes me excited to play a game.
IG: So, you’re the person who makes the cool effects that divide fire and ice mains in games. Cool! What’s one skill you learned growing up that you use in your role?
JU: I’d say collaboration. Growing up, I played flute in a marching band, sang in choirs, and later went on to learn guitar and drums. Playing music has taught me how to work with others to create a unified and cohesive sound. It’s beautiful to see the result of a project that everyone has poured their hearts into.
IG: Music to our ears… What has been your proudest moment as a member of the Iron Galaxy team?
JU: The release of Rumbleverse! It was the first game I worked on in my career as a VFX artist and it was so exciting to get to play this with loved ones.
IG: If you could give someone who wanted to follow in your career’s footsteps one piece of advice, what would it be?
JU: It’s difficult to just give one piece of advice, but I’d say keep yourself open to new opportunities to learn and grow. Take in all the reference you can and learn from others around you.
IG: Essential advice to grow in any career. What is the best thing about working at a video game development company?
JU: The people. I’m surrounded by so many talented people who all have such unique experiences. I love walking by desks and seeing the decorations and individual pieces chosen proudly to display. It’s a fun and inclusive environment.
IG: There’s certainly plenty of personality whenever you walk through one of Iron Galaxy’s studios. What is your favorite perk associated with your job?
JU: The Chicago studio location. We’re located right in the center of downtown, so I have my pick of delicious restaurants and beautiful architecture to walk around. I have even on occasion walked over to the Art Institute for a short visit during my lunchbreak. Can’t say I’ve ever had a job where I could just take a quick stroll over to one of the best museums in the country.
IG: The Loop has a hold over all of us at Iron Galaxy Chicago. What is the most rewarding aspect of creating things that other people experience?
JU: A memorable experience for me was playing duos on Rumbleverse with one of my friends. I’ll never forget listening to his genuine reaction of laughter and excitement as we fumbled through some matches and almost came close to winning.
IG: What is the best impact you’ve seen a video game have on someone’s life?
JU: While going to school for game dev, I worked at an afterschool program where we taught children how to make video games. I had a student who was really engaged in our 3D modeling class. After the course was over his father came up to me and thanked me for inspiring his son to work on video games. He said all he talked about was 3D modeling and was even working on it in his own time at home for fun.
IG: Inspiring the future of game dev. If that student is ever looking for an internship down the road, you know where to refer him! What video games would you recommended with Latin/Hispanic characters?
JU: RE4 is one of my all-time favorite games and it takes place in Spain. Luis, a sort of sketchy, yet lovable, character in the game, pops up throughout to help you fight off those infected with las plagas. I do wish he had a larger role, but nonetheless, still a fun character.
IG: What’s it like being a part of Unidos @ IGS (Iron Galaxy’s employee resource group)?
JU: I haven’t had the experience of knowing many other Hispanic or Latin gamers so being able to have a resource like Unidos to connect and share our knowledge of our different cultures is unique and special to me. We have some exciting Unidos events coming up and one I’m particularly excited for is our Bailar Conmigo dance event where one of our members will be teaching us how to dance to merengue. Wepa!
IG: The Chicago office will be looking to you to follow the steps! How do you celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month?
JU: I celebrate by cooking! I absolutely love to cook all types of dishes, but I will be specifically focusing on creating a new dish outside of my wheelhouse, Pupusas, as well as an all-time favorite traditional Dominican dish, Sancocho (my recipe can be found in our Iron Galaxy cookbook!). Pupusas are a traditional El Salvadorian dish which consists of flat corn cakes stuffed with things like cheese, shredded meat, beans, and/or veggies. They are then topped off with a pickled shredded cabbage mixture and in some recipes the mixture is spicy. Very delicious!
IG: Yum. Both of those recipes look and sound tasty. Where are you from?
JU: I was born in New Jersey and lived in Bloomfield until the age of 12. Our family then moved down to Palm City, FL and I lived there until moving to Jacksonville for college. Living in New Jersey gave me a diverse mixture of culture and food while Florida provided beautiful beaches and lush landscapes.
IG: Diverse scenery and experiences. Experiencing so many cultures must be a treat. What is a favorite hobby of yours?
JU: I’ve always had a deep love for music and have played different instruments throughout my life, but my favorite to play is the drums. Then there’s also my hobby of spinning fire hula hoop and less occasionally fire poi. It makes me feel like a real-life fire sorceress and I love it.
IG: Woah! That sounds dangerously fun. It might be time for Iron Galaxy to host a talent show soon. Maybe… outside though? What is something you have always wanted to create?
JU: A horror movie. My favorite genre of games and movies is horror. I’ve cultivated this passion from a young age watching movies like Night of the Living Dead and the Exorcist probably before I should have been watching them. I love the idea of creating a horrifically beautiful movie and have had an idea in mind for a while now. Maybe I’ll have the opportunity to terrify viewers sometime in the distant future.
IG: You often hear stories of adults being terrified of horror after being exposed too early. Your takeaway was the opposite! If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would you choose?
JU: SUSHI. I can never have enough of it.
IG: What’s one place that you hope to see one day?
JU: I really want to visit Portugal and have been learning Portuguese for the past year and a half. I grew up speaking both English and Spanish, so I never really had the opportunity to learn a new language and wanted to give myself the challenge. I have plans to visit Porto next summer and I’m trying my best to keep up with practicing.
IG: Best of luck on the language journey and props on becoming trilingual. What was the last concert you saw?
JU: The last concert I went to was Gojira and Mastodon in Milwaukee. I was right up front and had the cool experience of having the lead guitarist from Mastodon lean over and hand me his guitar pick.
IG: Sick. We bet you have that stored somewhere safe. What is the one song most likely to earn you a speeding ticket?
JU: Well, this one is easy to answer since it almost happened to me. Years ago, I was driving down 95 to visit my parents and I was blasting Parabola by Tool. I was almost at my destination, so I was excited and just belting out the lyrics. Mid-epic song moment, I noticed blue/red flashing lights in my rearview mirror. The officer was nice and let me go with a warning since my speeding wasn’t too excessive.
IG: Lucky you! The officer must have heard you singing. If you could pick a song to play every time you entered the room, what would it be?
JU: Them Changes by Thundercat. This song has such a good groove to it. It compels you to dance and I would need everyone to dance with me. Thank you.
IG: If anyone needs help dancing at the Bailar Conmigo event, you can help them find their way. What game have you spent the most time playing?
JU: Dead by Daylight. I just love playing this game as a survivor. One of my favorite things about this game is the unexpected camaraderie between killer and survivors. I’ve had some really funny and wholesome moments playing with random people. Gotta love a killer who lets you escape but be sure to let them get a quick stab in before you run out those exit gates!
IG: You stay consistent with the interest in horror! What has been your favorite series binge?
JU: Basically, any series Mike Flanagan has made. The Haunting of Hill House, Midnight Mass, and The Haunting of Bly Manor. Spooky stuff.
IG: Spooky. Horror. It’s perfect that we’re interviewing during the month of October. What’s one superpower that you would like to have?
JU: The ability to travel anywhere in the universe. I want to be able to go off into the farthest reaches of space and get to come back to tell people about the cool space aliens I met.
IG: Alien existence confirmed. If you had one wish, what would you wish for?
JU: I wish I could speak all languages so that I could communicate with people all around the world. I’d love to learn recipes from them and be able to laugh at their jokes.
IG: You’re three steps there, but that would be a really handy wish if it was granted. Given a time machine, which historical period would you like to experience first-hand?
JU: Probably the disco dancing era of the 70s. I want to groove on some light-up dance floors. Maybe head over to a skating rink and dance while I skate, but first I need to learn how to skate.
IG: The members of the event team here at Iron Galaxy reading this, take note for another fun event. It’s time to roll at The Rink. What fictional universe would you choose over our own? What if there was no coming back?
JU: As a kid, I loved the movie Little Nemo Adventures in Slumberland. I’d like to get picked up in a derringer, presented with a box of the rarest most delicious cookies, and whisked away to the magical world of Slumberland. Oh, there’s a Nightmare king? No worries, we can be friends and watch horror movies together.
IG: Daring choice. If you could have dinner with anyone in the world, who would you invite?
JU: Danny DeVito. I had the opportunity to meet him during Sundance a few years back and would love to get to sit with him again and share some rum ham.
You’ve met him already? He must’ve left a considerable impression on you. Thank you for sharing your love of horror, music, art, and culture with us Jess. Your creative side shined all throughout this interview. Enjoy your cooked creations as you celebrate Hispanic Heritage month.
Our Recruitment Team just hosted a free Career advice session featuring members of Unidos @ IGS. No worries if you missed it, click here to view the session. Already have a resume and cover letter lined up? Go ahead and visit our Careers page to apply now.