Womenize! – Inspiring Stories is our weekly series featuring inspirational women from games and tech. For this edition we talked to Cynthia Sipes, User Researcher at Invuse and at Glazed Games Studios. She shares how exploring different studies and industries led to finding true professional passion. Read more about Cynthia in this interview:
Hi Cynthia! What makes your newest game “Welcome to the Donut Diner” special?

The thing I find so special about working on “WTTDD” is the amazing team that dedicated so much time to it. All of us are from different parts of the world and have come into the project in various ways. I remember posting a message in a Discord channel about wanting to join a game jam as a UX/UI designer. I got this message from John, the lead audio engineer and lead admin on the project, telling me the vision for “Welcome to the Donut Diner”. It was meant as a portfolio piece to help get into the gaming industry –
something a little more polished than a game jam project.

I read the game doc and the theme really intrigued me. It is this interesting blend of sci-fi and fantasy with a sprinkle of horror. It has been amazing to be a part of this project and really watch it grow. For all of us involved, it is becoming more than just a portfolio piece but something we want to really bring life to and share. I am also very excited to finally be a User Researcher and use those skills for “WTTDD”. And of course there are donuts, so what’s not to love!

via Glazed Games Studios on Twitter

Which challenges did you overcome on the way of becoming a professional User Researcher?

Wow, this is such a good question because I honestly feel like there were so many challenges. I felt lost for a long time on my career journey and really didn’t know what I wanted to do for a large portion of my life. I knew different things that I really enjoyed like art, talking to people, languages, video games, and stories. I really love narratives and how powerful they can be in helping us realize different aspects of ourselves. I love how art can be such a powerful act of creation and release of energy. I love how learning different languages can really make you shift in your thinking. But I had no idea how to bring any of these aspects together.

I was a student for so long. I went to school for a BA in Humanities, then studied graphic design, then eventually went to get an MA in Applied Linguistics, then went back to school for illustration before finally figuring out what I wanted to do. It was while studying illustration that I discovered UX/UI and in that process learned that I really enjoyed research. For a long time, I felt like I had wasted a lot of time and it was hard not to feel regret about this. I knew though that I had made up my mind on the path I wanted to take and I wasn’t going to give up.

It was so difficult to get so many rejections or no responses at all when applying for jobs. I went through so many emotions during that time and it really was mentally challenging. All I could do is just decide to keep going forward. I made up my mind that if I could learn and implement at least one thing a day, then I would have made a step towards my goal. I was very fortunate to find an amazing company, Invuse (formerly known as Invotra), who was looking for someone just like me. Now that I am on the other side, I can see how all of the steps I took throughout my whole life built into this. I don’t feel that regret anymore nor feel that I have wasted any time.

Could you share some insights into your illustration work?

I loved studying illustration and am so thankful that I decided to do it, even though I don’t plan on making it a full time job. I always wanted to have a formal art education so for me it was a huge bucket list item. It was me investing in myself and who I want to be. I also learned that I really enjoy slow art, which is why concept art just isn’t for me. I want to take my time, play, and explore while making a piece. I don’t want to feel the pressure of the outcome of what I am creating. I remember listening to Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. I don’t remember the exact words she used but she said something like “Don’t make your art pay for you. Pay for your art.” That really resonated with me. It is completely fine to sell art and I do, but I think that quote really freed me from putting pressure to make money from my art and just create. If someone else likes what I made, great. If not then I had an amazing time creating something and learning from the process. 

As far as what I like to make, it really varies! Generally, I’ve come to really enjoy abstract art and alcohol inks are one of my favorite mediums for that. I also enjoy painting nature – flowers in particular. I have a lot of different patterns I’ve made with floral designs and am very proud of them. Oh and the moon! I’m obsessed with drawing the moon. Figure drawing is my weakest area, so I am actively trying to focus more time on that and improving.
Drawing is so interesting because it really makes you slow down and pay attention to what is around you. Also, I do love learning about how other people create and what art means to them. I have an art blog where I interview various artists and share their work. I love learning about other people’s journeys and hopefully the stories will inspire others to pursue their creative-self more.

Thanks for this interview, Cynthia!

Cynthia’s links: LinkedInGlazed Games Studios on TwitterCynthia on Society6Art Blog on Squarespace

Womenize! – Inspiring Stories Feature by Sophie Brugmann