Every month we ask one individual in our network a few questions about their way into tech, their motivation and their lessons learned. This month we sat together with Philomena Schwab, who is Swiss game designer and co-founder of the game studio “Stray Fawn”. In 2016 she not only scored a success with the genetics survival game “Niche” and won several awards with but was also voted “30 under 30” in the category technology by the business magazine Forbes.
Philomena, let’s start from the beginning. Tell us a bit about your background and where you’re from!
Hi my name is Philomena. I’m half Belgian and half Swiss. I was born in Zurich and still live there today, in Schwamedingen to be precise. I did my bachelor and master’s degree in game design at the University of the Arts in Zurich while designing the genetics survival game “Niche” which was released in 2016. In the same year, I co-founded the game studio “Stray Fawn“.
What valuable advice did you get from your parents?
To follow my own dreams independently of what others think. When I was a child, it was never important whether I’m good at school or have a promising hobby, as long as I did what I enjoyed doing.
How did you become interested in tech?
When I was a teenager my career goal was to become a comic artist. But then, a friend of mine started to study informatics. This got me interested and I borrowed his school books about programming. I loved it! My friend and me soon after started to make a game together and I didn’t want to stop doing that ever since.
What aspects of your work are you proudest of?
I think it’s the fact that we make our ideas become reality. We released two games so far, the first one being an expanded version of my bachelor thesis and the other one originally being a hobby project of my business partner. Both these games were nothing more than ideas in our heads at some point. Now many people enjoy playing them.
What drives you at work?
I want to enjoy waking up and going to work every morning. So it’s very important to me to create a work environment that I love. Working with amazing people on projects we care about is very motivating to me. Maintaining and improving this environment is what drives me most. Helping others to achieve their goals also greatly motivates me. For example enabling team members to improve skills that are important to them or helping newcomers to find their way into the game industry. I also hope to make a very successful game at some point, so we won’t need to worry about money anymore.
What was one of your biggest challenges in your career and how did you overcome it?
For me the toughest problem was to stick to one project and finish it. Whenever I began to feel stuck while working on something, other ideas would suddenly look so much more appealing to me. So I switched, got stuck again, switched, never finished anything. The solution to this problem was involving other people. Having team members to discuss problems with and having players who look forward to the game’s next update have helped me to stick with a project and ultimately finish it.
What advice would you give women in tech?
Many of us weren’t really encouraged to consider tech as a possible career path, but that does not mean that we can’t do it. Dare to ask for what you want. Believe in your abilities.
Thank you very much Philomena!