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Creator spotlight with Thomas Barrett

Find out how Thomas built a virtual classroom for his e-learning program using the SynergyXR platform, modeling it after his favorite fantasy theme.

Bringing creativity into the Metaverse

Say hello to Thomas Barrett, an American video game developer who’s recently made a splash in the, now discontinued, SynergyXR Creators Club. Based in Chicago, he’s spent the past five years developing video games of every stripe on the Unity engine, specializing primarily in Virtual Reality (VR) game development and rapid prototyping. Three years ago, Thomas was accepted into the Oculus Start Developer Program for his VR contributions and has since published his games on the Oculus Store.

A candid chat with the most fun-loving Creators Club champion

The SynergyXR Creators Club has come a long way since its inception half a year ago, and since that time we’ve fostered a great community of creative individuals who all nurture a love for knowledge-sharing and pushing the boundaries of XR.

No one embodies that philosophy more than Thomas Barett, the mad genius from Chicago, who has well and truly tested the SynergyXR platform to its very limits with his reality-defying ideas. For his primary project, he set out to build a fantasy-themed classroom in the Metaverse using SynergyXR, a platform in which he can operationalize the developer program that he named The Virtual Creator Fellowship.

We were thrilled to have a sit-down conversation with him and pry into his creative past and future ambitions for e-learning in the Metaverse. This is an excerpt from our one-on-one chat with him.

I believe the Metaverse is a great tool for us to enhance how we play and communicate.

Thomas Barrett  |  Game Developer | SynergyXR Creators Club Member

What inspires you as a creative?

A little unconventionally, my passion for VR game development was ignited by the desire to be a good uncle. You see, the reason I first designed and developed a VR experience was to give my niece something fun and immersive to play. She’s wheelchair-bound, so being able to dive into VR gives her a completely different way of experiencing the world. More movement and freedom.

I remember the first time I brought my PC and Oculus Rift to my niece’s house and watched her play the game I’d made, called Carnival Food Fight, and I was just blown away by how much fun she was having. It’s a very simple game where you throw food at customers, and if you get the order correctly, you get a tip. To her, it was the best time ever. After that incredible experience with my niece, I was hooked on making VR games. I ended up submitting my game to the Oculus Start Developer Program, which is still live on the Oculus store to this day.


And what sparked your interest in the Metaverse?

For my first true Metaverse experience, I was invited to compete in the Horizon Worlds Builder Contest through the Oculus Start program. I spent four weeks building two worlds in VR – a paddling adventure that deals with the environmental impacts of climate change, and a minigolf world that came to be a cosmic tribute to Carl Sagan (famous astronomer).

Both my worlds won third place prizes which in total was $20K in cash winnings. Because I’ve seen the incredible joy that immersive technology can bring to people’s lives, I believe the Metaverse is a great tool for us to enhance how we play and communicate, and I’m looking forward to creating more experiences for everybody to enjoy. 

What was the challenge you faced?

I’d been brainstorming an idea for an e-learning program for almost a year. The gist of it is a roleplay learning program for game developers, broken up into specific classes of development specializations, like it would be in an MMORPG game. While I’ve had plenty of experience with game design, I was looking for the right platform to create my virtual classroom in. That’s when I came across SynergyXR.


How did SynergyXR help?

Not only did SynergyXR give me the perfect foundation to build in, but the team has also given me ample support and guidance from the very beginning. I was able to build out my room with virtually no issues because the toolset is super easy to use. Although I already have experience with world building in VR, what struck me about SynergyXR’s platform is that I was able to build on my PC and effortlessly port to VR and cross-platform. It just makes the building experience more seamless and less of a headache. 

How does the Creators Club support your creative endeavors?

A few weeks ago, the Creators Club gave me the opportunity to give a live presentation of my Virtual Creator Fellowship world and ideas. It was the spark I needed to begin getting the ideas out of my head and into a visual concept. I had so much pent-up creative energy for this project, and between the support I got from the SynergyXR team and a newfound friendship with Jens, I was inspired to push myself and build a room like nobody has ever seen.

The presentation went smoothly, and I also had a great time. The next week, I asked Jens if I could get access to the SynergyXR scene importing tool, which I learned about in the Q&A section of the Creators Club community event. It then took only a few days to set up a meeting with one of the developers (Jonas) and get the tool and proper training to use it.

Again, I had a ton of questions and Jonas was there to give me the feedback that I needed. I feel like I’ve only just scratched the surface of what I can build with the SynergyXR platform, but I really think that it’s a game changer for building in the Metaverse. I can’t even begin to say how thankful I am to everyone at SynergyXR. It’s by far the most positive experience I’ve had in my 5 years as a creator and developer.