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Alek Sinn

Sinn Studio is a VR developer and publisher based in Toronto, with the creators of Swordsman VR — an award-winning VR game and a best-seller on the PlayStation store. We’re solving some of the toughest problems in VR, with a dedicated focus on real-time combat with the help of artificial intelligence.

Tell us about yourself?

I’m the CEO & Creative Director at Sinn Studio, overseeing the production of our first-party games and software. I’m a strong believer in virtual reality and its ability to impact the industry, so I absolutely had to get involved early to grow with this technology.

I have a background in film and animation, which gave me an edge in exploring this new creative and technical frontier. In 2017, I co-founded Sinn Studio with Almir Brljak and Anas Siraj, and we’re now one of the leading VR companies in Canada (and beyond), with dozens of talented team members and a new HQ in Liberty Village (Toronto).

If you could go back in time a year or two, what piece of advice would you give yourself?

Delegate! During the first few years of the company, as a startup in a new industry, I had to wear many hats and work harder than I’ve ever worked. When we became profitable and started to scale, I struggled to surrender responsibility to others. I felt less productive when I relied on others because my personal baseline for how much I had to do was very high. This isn’t sustainable, and a company is only as good as the collective effort of its people.

I would tell my past self to focus on surrounding himself with as many competent people as possible, who are as passionate about VR as he is, and to surrender responsibility for the greater good of our products.

It seems obvious in retrospect, but growing a company for the first time comes with many blind spots, and it has been a journey of constant learning and growth.

What problem does your business solve?

Action games are some of the most commercially viable across all platforms. But in VR, where players control their character using their real-life body, being able to predict their behaviour can be the difference between a good action game and a disappointing gimmick.

Our primary mission is to develop AI software that empowers our action games by accurately predicting the intent of our players before they even act on it. This gives the player’s opponents a serious chance at keeping up in combat, which has made Swordsman VR, our flagship title, the go-to sword-fighting game on the market.

What is the inspiration behind your business?

We’re inspired by the technological implications of VR, particularly in the entertainment industry. Video games have evolved countless times over the past few decades and are now experiencing explosive growth through the most immersive medium yet.

We love the process of creating worlds that players will be (literally) transported to in virtual reality and crafting high-impact experiences that allow people to experience things they could never experience otherwise, like being a powerful medieval warrior and a master in combat.

What is your magic sauce?

We witnessed the birth of modern machine learning and recognized a clear path forward. This symbiosis between high-octane action in VR and AI is a very complicated problem to solve and one that our entire company is dedicated to solving.

Our efforts to build sophisticated AI systems that can predict and engage with players in combat, in real-time, using their real bodies to interact with the world, is something that no one else is currently doing. Certainly not at this scale.

What is the plan for the next 5 years? What do you want to achieve?

In the next five years, we plan to expand on our existing Swordsman IP and iterate through several generations of our proprietary AI software. Some of our work will involve training machine learning algorithms to better predict players in VR combat and allow AI opponents to procedurally generate their own motions (with less need for human-made animation).

The latter will enable us to produce AI opponents with more nuanced, human-like movement and intelligence, further pushing the limit of what’s possible in VR combat.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?

Because realistic combat in VR hasn’t been done before, we faced countless problems that no one has ever faced before. These aren’t problems we can google our way out of — we had to invent the solutions ourselves.

But it has been as rewarding as it is challenging, and we’re only getting started!

How can people get involved?

We’re frequently hiring! If you’re in the video games industry (VR or otherwise), and believe you’ll contribute to our goals, please feel free to email us a CV at: