Chong Boon Sim: What it’s like being a Razer designer 

During school orientation, I remember a girl introducing herself as an avid Dota player, leaving the guys in the room instantly intrigued. It’s rare to hear about female gamers, which only reinforces the perception that gaming or pursuing a gaming-related career path is more of a guy thing

That’s why I was extra inspired when I got to speak with 41-year-old Chong Boon Sim – who goes by Sim, who fulfilled her teenage dream by landing a job designing gaming gear. Sim currently holds the position of Associate Director for Industrial Design and is one of the few female Razer industrial designers

Here’s a glimpse into Sim’s journey towards making her mark in the world of tech and gaming design, including becoming one of the female Trailblazers #WomenInInnovation recognised by  the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) for the World Intellectual Property Day 2023, in celebration of women innovators.

Designed the Razer DeathAdder, used by 15 million gamers worldwide

Sim’s 14-year journey as a Razer designer – since she first joined in 2009 – was like embarking on an epic gaming quest, with the gaming mouse as her weapon of choice. Over the years, she levelled up her design skills to create gaming mice that revolutionised the way gamers play.

Razer Designer DeathAdder
The upgraded version of the DeathAdder sports a lighter weight and includes the Focus Pro 30K Optical sensor and Razer HyperSpeed Wireless functions.
Image credit: Razer

One of Sim’s innovations was the Razer DeathAdder – the palm-fitting masterpiece that won over the hearts and hands of 15 million gamers worldwide. Its ergonomic design made marathon gaming sessions a breeze, and so much more comfortable.

Razer Designer Razer Naga
Sim even
helped with the creation of the Razer Naga Left-Handed Edition, showcasing her dedication to inclusivity.
Image credit: Razer

What made Sim stand out was her gamer-first approach to innovation. She put herself in the shoes of users and created products they never knew they needed. For instance, Sim knew the frustration of fumbling with keys during intense gaming sessions.

That insight enabled her to bring the idea of the Razer Naga MOBA/MMO gaming mouse to life, featuring the ingenious idea of using the thumb to control multiple keys, as well as swappable side plates for customisation and convenience during long gaming sessions. Imagine activating Black King Bar with a flick of your thumb when opponents suddenly jump on you in Dota 2.

Sim’s extensive experience as a gamer herself has played a crucial role in making these innovations possible. With years of engagement in console and PC games, such as Super Mario and Call of Duty, Sim has gained invaluable insights and first-hand understanding of the needs and preferences of gamers, which have greatly influenced her design approach.

Joining Razer in its early years as an industrial designer

Razer Designer Chong Boon Sim 1
Image credit: Razer

Sim’s journey wasn’t always a bed of roses. She faced her fair share of struggles before achieving success. As an Industrial Designer, she joined Razer in 2009 when it was still a start-up and was immediately overwhelmed by the sheer volume of work thrown her way.

As a rookie, she juggled assignments from her supervisors while simultaneously contributing independently to various projects, with tasks like doing sketches, conceptualisation, ideation, conducting research, and drafting 3D designs. The long working hours added to the challenge, with her days filled with meetings, leaving her only nights to work on her ideas.

Razer Designer 3D printing
Numerous prototypes were crafted through 3D printing before the ideal mouse design was finally unveiled to the world.
Image credit: Razer

The stress at work was compounded. It seemed like there was no light at the end of the tunnel as constant revisions were required for her work, where proposals were not getting approved. Sim felt disheartened and considered giving up just 1 month into the job.

Despite the challenges she faced, Sim knew that the road ahead would be long and challenging, but she also believed that it would be fulfilling if she persevered. With that mindset, she gritted her teeth and pressed on. Her experiences shaped her into an empowered woman, as she learnt the ropes and overcame each obstacle along the way. 

Navigating tough times in a male-dominated industry

Back in those days, being a female in a male-dominated industry can be intimidating. But Sim learnt how to navigate the challenges and communicate effectively with her male colleagues. There were numerous instances where Sim had to raise her voice to make herself heard, literally.

Working with engineers was an additional hurdle for Sim to overcome, as it often diverged from her vision of bringing her product to life. 

Despite the engineers’ proposals to deviate from her original designs by simplifying and streamlining functions, Sim stood her ground and insisted on preserving her carefully crafted designs to optimise the product.

Razer Designer Chong Boon Sim 2
Image credit: Razer

Over time, Sim grew more independent and developed effective problem-solving skills to tackle the challenges she faced at work. She always reminded herself to be confident and to see herself as an equal in the industry. 

This even extended to her attire, where she would consciously avoid wearing dresses, as a way to assert her professionalism and equality in the workplace.

Sim persevered and worked her way up the ranks through her diligence, dedication, and positive attitude. She was always open to taking on assignments, no matter how demanding, and consistently put her best foot forward. Her experience and knowledge in the field gradually earned her respect from both colleagues and clients alike.

She also learnt the importance of managing her mental health, recognising when she needed to take a step back from work. This approach worked wonders for her, especially when she experienced creative blocks. 

Razer Designer Table Tennis
Table tennis became one of Sim’s favourite activities to destress. The office had a table where she could step away from work and engage in a friendly game whenever she needed a break.
Image credit: Chong Boon Sim

But at times where she needed to seek comfort from her family, running back home to Malaysia whenever Sim wanted wasn’t really an option. Thankfully, her sister was just a call away. She would often reach out during the week to share her frustrations and challenges, knowing that she had a reliable source of support.

Winning a SG100WIT award & tips for aspiring designers

Razer Designer - SEA HQ Official Opening
Sim shared some of Razer’s products with DPM Heng Swee Keat during the Razer
SEA HQ Official Opening in 2021.
Image credit: Razer

Sim’s humble nature was evident when she asked her HR team in disbelief upon hearing that she was announced as a recipient of the Singapore 100 Women In Tech (SG100WIT) award in 2021. As a Razer designer who worked quietly behind the scenes, Sim never thought that her hard work would be recognised by the public, let alone receive an award.

Being a designer is no easy feat. It requires countless hours of research and revisions, far beyond the typical 9-to-5 workday. As Sim puts it, “You have to be passionate in what you’re doing and [be] ready to commit, in terms of spending time and effort, and doing a lot of homework and churning out things, and grinding.”

Despite being in awe, Sim was deeply grateful to receive recognition for her hard work over the years. It was a form of validation of her dedication and efforts, and she was proud to share this achievement with her family and friends. The acknowledgment also helped others better understand her job, and the significance of her contributions to the gaming industry.

Protecting the rights to her creations

As a Razer designer with an impressive 32 design patents and 4 innovation patents to her name, Sim understands the significance of protecting her work after investing so much time and effort into it. 

Razer Designer - Gaming Mice
Image credit: @razerstore via Instagram

Just like how we lock our doors to protect our homes, filing for patents helps you secure exclusive rights to your inventions. Sim is a strong advocate for this practice, emphasising that it prevents others from copying, using, or profiting from your hard work without your permission.

Moreover, in today’s knowledge-based economy, intellectual property (IP) has become a valuable asset. Filing for patents is like putting on a suit of armour to protect your ideas and making the most out of your creations.

Your patents can also be used strategically to generate licensing revenue, attract investors, and gain a competitive edge in the market. They can also enhance your reputation as an innovator and help you establish a strong personal brand.

Grow your business by managing your intellectual property

This post was brought to you by the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS).
Cover image adapted from: Razer

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