Matthew Feir (né Baker), BA’11, didn’t begin his undergraduate degree at King’s targeting a particular career, but he knew what was important to him. He saw himself doing something where he would be “supporting others” in some way. He first thought that might mean teaching, possibly high school or at the university level. But over time, circumstances and opportunities drew him toward something else entirely.
Eleven years after graduating from King’s, Feir is a producer of groundbreaking games in the virtual world. As intended, he’s supporting others, shepherding teams of creative and technical people in the ever-expanding world of the metaverse.
Born in Dallas, Texas, as a child Feir lived with his family in Oklahoma, Louisiana, New Brunswick and eventually Maine, where his Orono high school was the first step on the path toward King’s. “I’d always had an affinity for writing and I became passionate about literature. I heard that King’s might be a good place for me and I applied.” But not, surprisingly, to the Foundation Year Program. “I looked at it and thought, ‘that’s for smart people.’ I didn’t think of myself as particularly smart,” he laughs.
It was King’s registrar, reviewing his application, who suggested FYP might be perfect for him. “I loved it,” Feir says. “I loved the format of it, the reading and discussion of what you’re reading and how everyone was studying the same thing and it carried over into other aspects of your lives.”
After graduation, Feir and his then-girlfriend Alyssa Feir, BJ(Hons)’09, spent a few months in New Zealand before moving to Vancouver where Alyssa did a Master’s. They came back to Halifax— and to King’s—to marry. “Neither of us really had a hometown and King’s had become important to us both,” Feir says. They married in King’s Chapel in 2012.
Feir began looking for work in Halifax and landed a job as a video game tester. “People think, ‘Cool, you play video games all day.’ You do, though not like a normal player. You’re trying to break the game … cause a bug in the software … find the crashes so the team can fix them.” When the contract ended, Feir was offered a job as a production assistant at the company, Longtail Studios, and his path to becoming a producer in the industry had begun. “I thought, ‘Ok, I can make this happen.’
“It’s not unlike teaching or academic administration. It’s about supporting other people. It’s working with the artists and designers and programmers. I’m there to guide and support them and be a force multiplier.”
Eventually, Longtail was purchased and became Ubisoft Halifax, the local arm of an international game development company where he worked as a producer on products like Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Mobile and Assassin’s Creed: Rebellion.
When Covid hit, Feir took some time off to be with this family—which now includes three children, aged six, four and eighteen months. He took stock. A ping on LinkedIn led him to Lucky VR, a Canadian virtual reality game development studio. “The virtual reality space was gaining speed,” he explains. “Lucky was a small team with great ideas and they realized they needed producers. They had partnered with PokerStars, the world’s largest poker site to create PokerStars VR.”
Today he is part of a team that’s developing PokerStars VR into a full casino experience with craps, blackjack, roulette and more.
Asked if he sees a connection between the work he does and his FYP experience, Feir doesn’t hesitate. “The big thing FYP brought me was the constant examining of everything. Nothing was taken at face value. I’ve taken that into my work, I’ve applied it to the virtual world. How are these games made, what makes them have the impact they do, what makes them fun and enjoyable. My critical lens was fostered in the Foundation Year Program.”