Caryn Vainio

Was in astrophysics, now a video game UI/UX designer. Also a belly dancer, alpaca farmer, yarn spinner. See my work at

Don’t Be Afraid of a Pencil.

“Oh, I can’t draw.”

This is invariably the thing I hear when I’m having a conversation with someone, probably in a work context, and probably…

A Story Not About Jeans

Imagine you’re a mostly average guy who needs to buy some jeans. So you go into the store of a company that’s known to make high-quality jeans, because you want to spend your money on quality things.

You go in and look for jeans in your size, but they don’t seem to have any. You think of yourself as average — most guys you know are about your height…

Life As a Game Dev Mom

The difficulties of parenting in an industry with a history of poor work-life balance

The GOP’s Problem with Women as Humans

Something has been bothering me about the reaction I feel when confronted with quotes and quips from representatives of the GOP about their stance on…

Publications edited by Caryn Vainio

Thoughts and inspiration about design.

Don’t know what those four letters and a slash mean? Here you can find out.

Good reading about good (and bad) UX design.

A bellydancer, a game developer, and Quiet walk into a bar

Or, how being a woman with an empowering hobby does not invalidate her opinion on sexism in games.

I’ve been a game developer for over a decade. I’ve been a bellydancer for seven years. And inevitably, when the issue of oversexualized female characters comes up in games, someone tells me…

The Right Fidelity for the Job

Sketches, prototypes, and wireframes. Oh, my.

For many people who aren’t UI designers but have put on the hat, the entirety of UI…

UI: It’s Not the Tool.

When good mock-up tools go bad.

There are many times in professional life when those who are not UI/UX designers are called upon to do the job…

Stop Saving the Boobies. Save a Life Instead.

On the same day that Angelina Jolie wrote an Op-Ed in the New York Times about her preventative double mastectomy, I saw an ad on the side of a bus on my way to work. The ad was for some breast cancer prevention event, and it was called something like Save the Boobies, or Life for the Tatas, or some other ridiculous slogan whose specifics I…

What Are Your Project’s Design Pillars?

When I’m faced with crafting the proper user experience for a particular part of the game I’m working on, there’s one thing I do right at the start…

The UI Sorting Hat

If you’re a game developer, into which house does your company’s Sorting Hat put your UI team members? Art, Design, or Engineering?

Throw My Work Away. No, Really.

I had an interesting moment with my design director not too long ago. After working up a paper prototype to test a series of interactions and UI screens that…