Meet The VI Team - Sebastian Toy
Updated: Mar 13, 2020
What is your biggest career milestone to date? I want to say that it's something from Virtual Immersive but unfortunately it's not. It's still early days so who knows, but for now I'd have to probably to say, having my name in the credits of an actual professional game, Awake: Episode One VR. That was published on Steam - and I even got to set up the store page! Game development is my dream, so to see it realised like that was just indescribable.
What do you find unique about working at Virtual Immersive? It sounds cliche but it's honestly that the whole company feels like a family. At previous jobs there was a bit of professional detachment and expectations to 'behave', but here I feel like I can genuinely be myself without filtering as well as still being productive (that part is important). You know it's a good setup when your boss still makes himself feel like your equal despite the mountainous gap in experience between you.
Favorite snack in your desk drawer? The biscuits I steal from the Vandal jar, but shh don't tell anyone.
What is your dream AR/VR job? Virtual Immersive is actually pretty close to this (I swear they didn't pay me to say this), because it's giving me continuous variety and opportunities to pick up new skills, which is invaluable as someone that kind of needs personal growth to stay sane, plus it genuinely feels like we're on the cutting edge of technology. I'd say the only thing that feels lacking is that I'd love to work on a bonafide video game and really put my game development education into practise.
Where do you see the industry in 5 years? Good lord, who knows man. This is one of the most rapidly changing industries there is. It's crazy to think that there's pretty much no one out there that has considerable VR/AR experience, we're all kind of still figuring things out and that's quite a humbling and fun experience because everyone is on the same page - which is more conducive to a collaborative spirit. If I were to take a very uneducated guess though, it'd probably be very different in regards to how we interact with VR/AR experiences. I recently saw this tech demo where someone was able to map all of the functions of the controller to hand-tracking, meaning they didn't need the controller at all. That was quite mind-blowing to me, and it definitely made me rethink the foundations of interaction, which always traditionally required some kind of controller.
Which AR/VR experience has inspired you the most? Tooting my own horn a bit here, but probably Awake: Episode One. I remember when Start VR brought me in for the first time and they offered a prototype version of that game as one of my first VR experiences ever, and it was kind of mind-boggling how immersive it was. There's something incredibly special from even just a storytelling capacity to have the feeling that you're inside a movie but can choose your own camera angles, and get as far or close to the action as you like - as if you're a disembodied spectre. I think it also really helps you connect with the world and the characters too for obvious reasons.
Are you a Snapchat, Instagram, or Facebook person? I'm going to say something controversial and maybe even contradictory to some of the stuff we work on, but I really don't like social media. I use Facebook for messaging friends, and Instagram for visually tracking gym progress but that's about it. I can appreciate the tech that we develop but the whole digitised social craze is something I really can't get behind.
Where were you before joining the VI team? Right in the middle of my degree actually! I had significantly cut down my hours at Start VR because trying to balance full-time work and full-time study was abject torture, and eventually the work just kind of waned, which is to be expected when you stop committing as much time to the company. However, I was trying to keep an eye for the future, and upon hearing a potential opportunity at VI from my friend Sam, I decided that any short-term pain of trying to balance study with more work would be worth it - and thankfully I'm still here so I can thank my intuition on that one!
Why does the world need AR/VR? Even beyond the new avenues of entertainment potential it brings, there's just something that resonates with everyone about AR/VR more-so than other mediums. I'm not even talking about just on a metaphorical level either, the human body itself responds in an incredibly unique way to these experiences. For example, VR can and has actually been used as a form of anaesthetic, engaging the senses so thoroughly that the body is unable to transmit pain. Another example is the positive reports with VR being used for training, proving not only how efficient it is as an educational tool but also how effective it is when it comes to absorbing the information.
How do you feel about the rise of facial recognition technology? As a tech-lover, I'm all for it. However, as a human being I'm very cautious. I think there's a lot of things we take for granted when we look at technological development, for example, we're currently at an unprecedented level of technological growth, unmatched by anything in history. This is both a great and a terrifying thing, for the worry is that we'll be going so fast that we won't have time to see the metaphorical brick walls ahead of us until we've slammed into them. Because the thing that has to be noted is that even seemingly minor technological advancements utterly change the way we view the world, re-defining and creating new definitions that alter to the core our day-to-day human experience. All I ask is that people are a bit more cautious about how technology could change things for the worse, not to the extent of stopping research because development and research is inevitable, but just to the extent of being more prepared and aware of what could happen when the technology becomes widespread. We've long since gone from being a tool-using culture to being a culture used by the tools themselves, and we should do well to remember that.
What are your passions outside of the tech industry? I'm very much into quite a few artistic endeavours. I have a great passion for music, especially the way it is constructed, as well as the human voice. Can never say no to a good round of Karaoke, even if I can only sing a few songs some-what decently, but I've also taken up amateur voice acting as a hobby. The ability for someone to completely transform their persona just through their voice is mesmerising to me, and I have immense respect for professional voice actors who are in a fairly cut-throat industry - which is why I'm happy to just keep my stuff to a hobby for now.