#MeetIronGalaxy – Kimu Villalba
As part of our celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, we’re featuring another member of Unidos @ IGS, our internal employee resource group. Kimu joined us after moving from Puerto Rico to Orlando, FL. Thanks to Latinx in Gaming, we were fortunate to cross paths with this artist and have been impressed with their hunger for growth ever since. ¡Vamos!
Iron Galaxy: Who are you and what would you say you do here at Iron Galaxy?
Kimu Villalba: Buenas! I'm Kimu. I'm a half Puerto-Rican, half-Ecuadorian, full-time video game lover! I'm a 3D Character Artist at Iron Galaxy
IG: What’s one thing you learned to appreciate about games when you were younger?
KV: I grew up with many games that were in English when I was little that I could not understand because my first language was Spanish. I had to rely a lot on game visuals to understand what would be happening in a game. This taught me how important it is for a game to have clarity so players can quickly capture characters and gameplay when text may be in a different language than a player’s norm. It's something I constantly think about when I'm working on character models.
IG: What has been your proudest moment as a member of the Iron Galaxy team?
KV: Because of NDA, I can't mention the game but there are some models I worked on for this one game that I hold dear to my heart. When they were released, it was amazing seeing players express their love for the models and game mechanics. I’m proud my creations are now a staple in the game forever!
IG: We appreciate your discrete answer! If you could give someone who wanted to follow in your career’s footsteps one piece of advice, what would it be?
KV: Don't be afraid of feedback! I used to always rely on myself for how my models should look, but I started growing when I started asking for feedback from other artists. This is important to learn early as it won't only make your models look better faster, but it's something you'll regularly be doing while working with a company! Also, join game jams! They are a valid game project you can add to your resume!
IG: What is the best thing about working at a video game development company?
KV: I absolutely love hearing everyone's thoughts on their game projects, the latest video games, and finding out about hidden gems! I always discover new things that just inspire my creativity. I could not ask for a better place to be!
IG: How collaborative are you with different teams across Iron Galaxy?
KV: Because I work with characters, I usually collaborate with every aspect a character artist touches! From Concept Artists, Tech Artists, Animation, VFX, and even UI! It's always so cool to see how everyone comes together to bring characters to life!
IG: It takes a village to make just one part of a game. What’s the most rewarding aspect of creating things that other people get to experience?
KV: Seeing positive reactions to Characters I worked on and them making memories from their gaming experience is the most rewarding for me. Video games gave me my happiest memories when I was a kid, so I joined game development because I want to create those happy gaming memories for new and old players like me!
IG: Game devs will never shake that childlike wonder of games, will they? What’s the most significant impact you’ve seen a video game have on someone’s life?
KV: There is no doubt that the biggest impact it has had on all of us is how they bring everyone together! Games really open doors to meet new people from all over the world. Hearing stories, learning about culture, all while you get to share yourself too in a game. Even if gamers may speak different languages, games are so cultural that our laughs and joy are the same!
IG: That’s an answer that can resonate with everybody. What video game would you recommended with a Latin/Hispanic character?
KV: This might be a popular answer but Spider-Man: Miles Morales game and for good reason. The game is such a masterpiece! Not to be a bit biased, but when me and my friends saw the Puerto Rican flag in the trailer and the Puerto Rican food in the game, along with other cultural stuff, we became really emotional. It's so rare for Puerto Rico to be represented in games, so it's amazing to have Miles Morales as a Puerto Rican Spider-Man in one!
IG: It’s a popular answer for good reason. Miles represents a lot of minorities with an impactful spidey-sense for culture. What’s it like being a part of Unidos @ IGS (Iron Galaxy’s employee resource group)?
KV: I absolutely love having another Familia here at IGS, where we can share our different stories and backgrounds!
IG: How do you celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month?
KV: During the month, I end up doing a combination of a lot of Puerto Rican and Ecuadorian food jajaja! Last year I brought some to work. It was awesome to see my co-workers trying Puerto Rican and Ecuadorian food, some for the first time! This time I'm trying to learn new recipes from other Hispanic cultures and learning the stories behind them!
IG: Other studios other than Iron Galaxy Orlando are reading this right now full of jealousy! Please share photos of your next creations! What is your hometown?
KV: In Puerto Rico, my hometown is Bayamón mi gente! In Ecuador, it's Guayllabamba!
IG: Aside from creating art and playing video games, what’s another hobby of yours?
KV: I love scrapbooking! My memory is a bit bad so I love putting receipts, stickers, and scraps of cool places I have gone to into a page so I can look back to it with the memories I made at the time!
IG: Creative way to document fun memories! What’s something you have always wanted to create?
KV: I’ve always wanted to 3D print and paint a 3D model of mine! I have yet to do it, but it's definitely on my bucket list!
IG: There are plenty of 3D print creators around the office, we’ll have to connect you with someone. If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would you choose?
KV: Nachos with Cheese has a grip on my soul.
IG: A dangerously delicious combo. What’s your favorite travel destination that you have visited?
KV: I just came back from Japan! I'm absolutely in love with it! I was able to visit some friends and made new gaming friends while playing Taiko no Tatsujin! It was a blast!
IG: Welcome back! What’s one genre of games that you think is underrated?
KV: Pixel Horror RPG! It used to be popular back in 2012 but lately, it's so rare to see people talk about them anymore. They influenced a lot of my love for games back in the day!
IG: Sounds like a cute + scary bundle all in one! What’s your favorite book?
KV: Le Petit Prince book! I read it when I was a kid and then read it again as an adult and it felt like two different books, yet I cried both times. A short but impactful read!
IG: If you could pick a song to play every time you entered the room, what would it be?
KV: Hard to choose but between “Legend” by The Score and “Warriors” by Imagine Dragons.
IG: For either song choice, you’ve got some epic drums leading you in. What game have you spent the most time playing?
KV: Team Fortress 2! Even though I have not played for some time now, my other games don't beat its time of 1,000+ hours on it!
IG: That’s quite the commitment. More than forty one days of your life! What has been your favorite series binge?
KV: Those series on YouTube channels that analyze different video game lore, I'm addicted to them!
IG: What’s one superpower that you would like to have?
KV: The power of 'no matter how little I sleep; I will always feel and be fully rested.' I would be unstoppable.
IG: You get one wish. You can’t wish for more wishes. What do you wish for?
KV: I wish I could understand all languages so I can always travel anywhere, talk with locals, and get to know them and their culture more!
IG: What fictional universe would you choose over our own?
KV: I want to be a game dev and Pokémon trainer in the Pokémon world JAJA! Just having a little buddy come into the office here and there. Just how fun and chaotic it would be.
IG: A productive art-filled morning, followed by a quick afternoon battle. It sounds like a recipe for a great workday! If you could have dinner with anyone in the world, who would you invite?
KV: Shigeru Miyamoto, creator of Mario and other games that started my journey into video games! I wish to hear about his thought process on creating such amazing characters, iconic gameplay, and I’d want to personally thank him for changing my life. I have never been happier than while I’ve worked in game dev!
Shigeru has probably helped encourage more careers in game dev than is possible to count. His games transcend language, teach it, and have helped bond the world in our interactive medium. We appreciate you taking the time out of your typical work schedule to speak with us, Kimu! Learning about your adventurous career and the journey you’ve explored, thanks to games, has been an inspiring one. Have a great rest of Hispanic Heritage Month and congratulations to all the love on your secret character models!
Interested in joining Unidos @ IGS? Looking to begin your career in game development or land that next step in your career? We’re hiring. Visit our Careers page to view our openings.