We had the good fortune of connecting with Sally Slade and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sally, we’d love to hear about a book that’s had an impact on you.
I’m in the middle of reading “Reality is Broken” by Jane McGonigal, and I can already tell it’s going to stay with me for life. Reason One is a bit selfish: This book has helped me to understand the nature of games and gamers. What is the draw of video-games? I never understood the long hours poured into them by my friends and colleagues; now I feel that I do. As someone who has essentially chosen “game developer” as a career, this has been an essential read. Reason Two is more community-minded: In her book, McGonigal meticulously identifies a slew of “problems” with reality. I’m about halfway through at this point, and so far I’ve identified with each one. She frames reality as a game, and these issues as game design flaws. As a Technical Designer, this is an energizing perspective that empowers me to believe I can contribute to a solution.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Lately, I’m excited about Virtual YouTubers or “VTubers”. VTubers are people who stream video content not as themselves, but as a specific character of their own invention. These characters are animated in real-time using various motion capture systems. Almost like puppeteering! This trend excites me for a number of cultural and social reasons, but most personally I am excited for the opportunity to cross-breed my own 2D illustrations with the powerful solutions offered by the AR/VR Industry. I believe my technical background in combination with my ability to design and illustrate is what sets me apart. I may not be the best developer, nor the best character creator, but I can move fast and invent tools, and that’s a great feeling! I don’t believe what I do is easy: It takes a specialized skillset which I’ve developed thanks to my uncommon career path. It also takes a lot of expensive technology, which I am often lucky to borrow from my employers. However, it’s my mission to make this technology more accessible, as I believe offering such a creative outlet to a broader audience would make the world a more interesting place. You can keep in touch with my work on this front at http://www.vodcasto.info/, or check out some of the characters I’ve designed and powered over at https://www.twitch.tv/mandyandthetones/
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
My god, how can I select? There are so many gems! I can hardly bore you with an entire week’s worth of locations, so I will cherry-pick for you the perfect Sunday. Ditch your car in the Culver City neighborhood near Harajuku Taproom, where you’ll start for a delightful Izakaya style lunch. You’ll need to walk-off the postprandial stupor induced by delicious food-on-sticks and the warm and fuzzy feeling you get from patio dining, so you’ll head straight to Tanner’s. At Tanner’s, you’ll grab a “big Kahuna” latte of your choosing to wake up. You can sip on that while you browse through endless shelves of new releases and trade paperbacks at the beloved Pulp Fiction Books and Comics shop next door. Once you’ve picked up some new reading material, you can catch the 33 down to Winward Circle. Snap a tourist photo under the light-up “Venice” sign, and mosey over to the skatepark at Dogtown. Examine the latest art on the graffiti walls, and by then the hunger kicks in. Enjoy happy hour appetizers at Hotel Erwin’s rooftop lounge, watch the sun go down, and finish the night off at Hama Sushi for an always interesting affair. You are now exhausted, goodnight! The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I have an Oscars-worthy laundry-list of people to thank, but today I’d like to shoutout to Chris Nichols, the Director of Chaos Group Labs. Chris was perhaps the first person to convince me that my story was worthy of public consumption. I’d always been proud of my work, but I never considered that I, the person behind the work, might also be worth talking about. For this reason, I was squirrely about accepting an invitation to be on his podcast “CG Garage” (https://www.chaosgroup.com/cg-garage). However, we had such a great chat, and the episode was so well received, that it gave me the confidence to follow-up on more and more public speaking opportunities. Now, I have a lovely list of people who have reached out and told me that my story or perspective has helped them in some small way. And that’s what it’s all about!
Emily Van Belleghem Ben Grossmann