Alumni Profile: Anthony Shafer '97

Anthony Shafer

Anthony Shafer '97

Current Location | San Rafael, CA
Current Industry | Animator and Senior Product Manager
Current Project | The Real System,
Recommended Reading | The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph by Ryan Holiday


Anthony Shafer ‘97, a Pacific alumnus with a rich history in animation and entertainment, has found a unique way to blend his creative skills with cutting-edge technology to make a meaningful impact on veterans' lives.

Shafer's current project is "Real System," a medically approved virtual reality therapeutic portable system, offering distraction therapy and pain management, along with physical and cognitive therapy components. Through an extensive marketplace of games and experiences tailored to address specific clinical needs, from phantom limb syndrome to PTSD to pain management, Real System was built with clinicians and the Veterans Affairs (VA) to meet the needs and wants of veterans. It is now widely available and is being implemented in select VA hospitals and private practices nationwide.

Shafer serves as the Senior Product Manager for Real System, overseeing all of the product lines. He collaborates with 12 different game teams, including top game artists from AAA titles and studios, to develop specific titles for the platform, offering clinicians the flexibility to select characters and body parts to tailor the experience to the patient's needs. The result is a product that successfully immerses patients in therapeutic experiences while keeping them engaged and entertained. Shafer finds it rewarding to see the impact of his work on people's lives, particularly veterans who have gone through physical and mental hardships in their service.

While he previously worked on popular entertainment projects like the Star Wars and Harry Potter films, Shafer now sees his current project as the highlight of his career because of its potential to transform lives. Shafer's journey from animation and entertainment to a role focused on improving the lives of veterans is a testament to his adaptability and innovative thinking. He appreciates the unique combination of engineering, creativity, and healthcare that his current role entails. With a network of colleagues from Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) and LucasArts, Anthony is well-suited to navigate the diverse challenges of this interdisciplinary role.

Shafer credits his undergraduate experience at Pacific for giving him the flexibility to merge creative thinking with technical problem-solving. Pacific's supportive environment allowed him to carve his own path as an engineering student, and he was the first to present a 3D animation as his senior project. As an alumnus, Anthony remains connected to Pacific through his role on the Pacific Alumni Association Board of Directors. As the parent of a second year Media X student, he is committed to advising Media X students and continuing to infuse the program with the latest technology and out-of-the-box thinking that benefited his own education.

Shafer's story is a testament to the impact of Pacific's commitment to nurturing creative and technical talents. His work is transforming the lives of veterans, and it serves as an inspiring example of how creativity and innovation can be channeled to make a profound difference in the world.