You work at the interface between art and technology. Did the one lead to the other?
I initially wanted to illustrate children’s books. Later, comics led me to computer games, which in my opinion offer more possibilities – animation with sound and interactivity – than almost any other medium can. I’m able to push the limits of those possibilities because I also began to grapple with the technological aspect. When I started my studies, I was still intimidated by it. I hadn’t the slightest idea of how a game works behind the screen. I could visualize how a children’s book comes into being. But a video game? And there were others in the same boat. The other women in my class – there were six of us out of a total of 15 students – also found themselves at a loss when it came to source codes. Three of us work today, though, as programmers, one even outside the gaming industry.
What explains your and your colleagues’ change of heart?
Many design academies make you choose between a creative or technical degree course right from the outset, so a typical gender role division takes place there. I, too, would have opted for the creative route under such a setup. Fortunately, ZHdK takes a different approach. Every student does both sides of the curriculum. And many a student ends up finding enjoyment in a field that initially hadn’t been on his or her radar, or that he or she originally wouldn’t have dared to try out. ZHdK’s interdisciplinary approach, by the way, is also the reason why women and men are represented pretty evenly across the Swiss-German gaming industry. Internationally, women make up 15% to 20% of the gaming industry’s headcount, so we have some catching up to do.