Salvatore Riniolo hails from California, near San Francisco, where he went to school and have lived for the last six years. Mesmerized by video games and the worlds they open, he wanted to developed games from a young age. Chasing his dream, Salvatore majored in Game Development and worked on art projects, mainly in the gaming industry. Now he manages art content for Unity, one of several major game engine developers in the world.
San Francisco to Lithuania, and not the other way around. What’s your story?
Once the department, where I was managing my team, started shifting to Europe, I was tasked with building a team here, in Vilnius. Since I hadn’t travelled much before that, having spent my whole life in that little area in California, I had a dream to see a lot more of Europe and other countries.
Did you know a lot about Lithuania in advance?
I feel like my knowledge of geography when it comes to Europe was just a blank slate. I learned about Lithuania about a year and a half ago when I was told I would be building a team here. I had no idea what to expect, but I quickly fell in love with Vilnius. While some of the more modern areas of the city remind me of big cities in the U.S., there’s also a very European feel to the Old Town here, with all of these different architectural styles mixed together. I just love it! Also, since I’m a big fan of street art, I really like Užupis – it’s beautiful, and it just seems really fun to be in that neighbourhood. And no – I don’t care if it’s an expat stereotype to like Užupis!
Art projects by Salvatore Riniolo
Have you noticed any differences between the people in Vilnius and your peers back in San Francisco?
I think Lithuanians tend to be a little quieter than I’m used to, but that’s not a bad thing. The people on my team are incredibly hardworking, and there’s a different culture of communication here. I find that I don’t need to follow up as much or to micromanage what my teammates are doing. Given how direct Lithuanians are, there’s not much beating around the bush or sugar-coating anything. I appreciate that.
The work-life balance here is another thing I really appreciate. Lithuanians focus significantly more on spending time with family, taking days off, celebrating holidays, and simply enjoying themselves when not at work. It feels a lot better, and it’s a big reason why I wanted to move here.
Could you talk a little bit about your life under quarantine?
After arriving here at the end of January, I was swamped looking at apartments, filling out paperwork and settling down. And that’s when the lockdown happened. I just hope that my wife arrives here as soon as the travel ban is lifted. Once the quarantine is over, I plan to do more events because there seems to be always something happening in Vilnius – meetups, networking events and tons of art stuff.
Other than that, I’m looking forward to eating in a restaurant again. There’s this place in Užupis (there I go again!) I’d especially want to visit. It would also be great to take a hot air balloon ride with my wife. It’s a rare thing to see in big cities, so we want to take advantage of that!