Womenize! – Inspiring Stories is our weekly series featuring inspirational women from games and tech. For this edition we talked to Aleksandra Iakusheva, Selina Capol and Martina Hotz, the founders of 5am Games. Read more about them in this interview:

Hi Aleksandra, Selina and Martina, thanks for sharing your stories with us! Apart from being co-founders, you all have different roles within your company, 5am Games. Could you tell our readers a bit more of how each of you found their role and how you then ended up founding a company?

We met at university in 2014, where we studied Game Design and it clicked right away. We love meaningful and wholesome games, so we decided to make our own. Lucky for us, we already had complementing skill sets – Martina is all about writing, sound and level design, Selina is a passionate artist and animator, and in Aleksandra’s hands everything comes together (she’s our mighty programmer and manager).

We developed a prototype of our first game and started to exhibit it in Switzerland. Shortly after this we won some development grants, which gave us the means to found our company 5am Games.

You’ve had to face quite some challenges in the process of founding your company. What kind of challenges have you encountered, and how were you able to overcome them?

Switzerland is a very expensive country to live in and the local game industry is not yet seen as a lucrative business opportunity for investors. So funding the development is a big challenge. But we know that’s a very common hurdle for many start-ups in the creative industry. We’re two years in now and still can’t make a living as game devs, but we see it as an investment in our company, and the upcoming release of our first title makes us feel optimistic for the future.

The other difficulty was to find out how to found a company at all. Generally, the process is not too complicated but receiving all the information you need is quite a challenge unless you hire someone to do it for you. Fortunately, we have friends and family who went through the process already or have a business background. Without their help it would have been A LOT more difficult to navigate through this bureaucratic nightmare.

As an all-women team, you focus on reaching female gamers who tend to get ignored most of the time by the general games industry. How do you achieve this goal?

We strive to make all players feel welcome by not relying on overused, hurtful stereotypes like the girl in the refrigerator or the princess that needs saving. Growing up playing video games, we rarely had the option to play a female character and if we did get one she seemed like an afterthought. So we always felt like these games weren’t made for us. Luckily these days you see more and more non-male playable characters. This leads to a rising number of women enjoying video games, because they feel included.

In our game “Letters – a written adventure” we’re telling a heartfelt story about the ups and downs of growing up and finding one’s place in the world. We don’t put unnecessary violence in the game and focus instead on wholesomeness and questionable puns. We hope that “Letters” will resonate with non-typical gamers too and that they will have a fun time playing the game.

Thanks for taking the time to talk to us, Aleksandra, Selina and Martina!

Links: 5am Games Website“Letters” Website“Letters” on Twitter“Letters” on Instagram“Letters” on Steam

Womenize! – Inspiring Stories Feature by Jessica Hackenbroch