Meet Sam Matson!
After joining the Arnlea team just before covid, it’s safe to say his first year or so wasn’t quite the ‘normal’ experience. However, taking it in his stride Sam has flourished as a key member of our development team. Outside of work, Sam keeps busy making films, developing games, and caring for his ‘unusual’ pets.
To get to know Sam a little more, read our interview below…
1. You joined Arnlea in 2020 the week before lockdown, how did you find that experience?
Refreshing! As far as I knew, it was just me on my way to a new job and enjoying it all. Everyone at that point was sure that Covid wouldn’t reach the UK and my biggest worry was seeing the TV at reception covering the outbreaks in Spain and thinking “Huh, my grandparents are there right now, I hope everything’s alright” (It was).
2. If you could give yourself one piece of advice back then, what would that be?
Get a VR setup sooner rather than later. Even if it’s not real, there’s at least lots to see that isn’t the inside of my flat! The added exercise from that would also have been a worthwhile addition.
3. Three years later, Covid has gone, how has your role / Interactions with the team changed?
It’s tough to quantify, all the people I worked closely with during lockdown have since moved on to roles elsewhere at other companies. It’s certainly weird coming back to the office and essentially re-meeting the team as most of them I hadn’t seen in person, but we’ve definitely hit a sweet spot for hybrid working and I’ve even found myself managing to answer some questions now, instead of asking them all.
4. What do you like about working at Arnlea?
Having come here from a company that wasn’t software focused, I’m going to risk sounding strange and say the presence of moderately basic industry standards. Even things as simple as our development software not being from the 80s, having environments set up for testing and even just keeping track of product versions has been a delight to me. Some parts of the Oil & Gas sector are still just the Wild West, as far as software goes (both for the “as long as it works” loose cannon mentality and the time period some of the tech probably came from).
5. How do you stay up-to-date with the latest tech trends?
I don’t think I do, truth be told, but I bet having an army of nerds as friends probably keeps me more up-to-date than I think. The number of screenshots I got sent of stupid questions being directed at the ChatGPT bot, for example, brought me up to speed on that fairly quickly. Just having a nosey around online in general seems to be a decent enough way to keep up these days.
6. In your spare time, you do some amateur game development. Can you tell us a little about the games you create?
As anyone who has touched Game Development will probably agree, ideas have a habit of spiralling out of hand and they almost all end up being far more work than you’ll ever plan to do, so I tend to try and pick up on retro ideas that have been done before and bring them a little more up to date. The jump from 2D to 3D over the past 30 years really led to some strange little niche genres in the industry that were very well received, yet saw no copycats being made and I try to dig some of those old ideas up if I can; localised party games, in particular, are always fun. Other times, I’ll just copy something like Tetris and make every block look like part of my friend Paul’s face.
7. You also do a bit of independent filmmaking, tell us about that too.
I can’t take too much credit for any of it, as it's mainly through some ambitious friends. It started not long after Uni with a “48-hour filming challenge” in which we won three awards for a short creature feature about a killer sandwich. After this, my friend who was big on special effects teamed up with one of the judges who had graduated from an LA film school and they ran a non-profit organisation for a while. I’ve since gotten involved across numerous short movies through them, as a versatile set of spare hands: Acting Extra, Sound Operation, Camera Operation, Data Technician, and even a bit of Writing. Even this upcoming weekend, we’re doing one of our routine trips back to our roots and taking on another 48-hour challenge being hosted in Edinburgh.
8. What do you enjoy most about owning some ‘unusual’ pets?
Me and my girlfriend currently own 3 rats, 2 of which we recently rescued through the SSPCA. Above all, I love how much they’re still able to surprise me with how smart they are, yet are still little dummies at the same time. Like they’ll have taught themselves how to use a litter tray and they can solve a huge treat-hiding puzzle meant for dogs, but I’ll still be able to sit and watch them sleep in several awkward positions and fall out of their bed on a semi-regular basis. They’re like tiny little dogs, they make great pets and are full of character.
9. And finally, where is your favourite place in the world?
I could visit anywhere on Earth for a relaxing holiday and by the end of it, I can bet anything there will be a sizeable portion of my brain that will be excited to be back in my very own bed again. I think there’s just something about the comfort and familiarity of it that makes it unbeatable once you spend enough time away.