Inclusive Gaming

Inclusive Gaming: Female Protagonist in Dungeons of Dreadrock

Welcome to a new series of Interviews at LadiesGamers: Inclusive Gaming. Since Yvonne and I are now ambassadors for Women in Games (WIGJ), we thought to do some interviews based on female characters in games and how the gaming industry is changing towards inclusivity.

Our first interview is with Christoph Minnameir, developer of Dungeons of Dreadrock. James reviewed the game and had this to say in his conclusion that Dungeons of Dreadrock is a solid dungeon crawling adventure that will appeal to gamers looking to enjoy a good puzzler in bite-sized chunks. What also stood out to us about Dungeons of Dreadrock is that it has a female protagonist, so we asked Christoph some questions about why he had chosen a female protagonist to be the lead in his game.

LadiesGamers Dungeons of Dreadrock


Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your studio?
Actually, I’m not part of a studio, much less do I own one. I’m an individual with a day job as a game design professor. I always try to self-educate in my free time, and Dungeons of Dreadrock started as a test project that I didn’t even plan to finish or publish at first.

In our opinion, Dungeons of Dreadrock is a solid dungeon crawling adventure that delivers a good puzzler in bite-sized chunks. The graphics are lovely. What was your inspiration for the level design and fantasy setting? (Eg games or books)

I have loved fantasy literature/settings ever since I was a kid, from The Hobbit to Harry Potter. As an adult, I came to value fantasy books that do address social topics under the hood of the main narrative (yes, these are rare, but they exist). Accordingly, I tried to address gender thematics without making it the focus of the game. And I established a heavy social lore/setup (i.e. the society controlled by a brotherhood of old men) as the basis for the story.

LadiesGamers Dungeons of Dreadrock

Female Protagonist

You chose a female lead for Dungeons of Dreadrock. Was this a deliberate choice on your part?

Absolutely. I wanted to feature a strong female protagonist (alongside other strong female NPCs) to allow young kids (not only girls but also boys) to experience a game in the role of this character. In my opinion, most media lacks strong female role models, and I wanted to change this – or at least help change this – with my game.

Who is your inspiration to trigger this view on women in gaming?

I have a daughter, she’s about to turn eight, and I’ve been reading a whole lot of books to her over the last seven years. When you do this every day, it does not take to be a very reflective person to quickly realise to what dramatic extent we live in a man’s world. Most kid’s books feature boys as protagonists, especially older ones. As for fairy tales, there is a lot in which no female character plays any relevant role except for being rescued or won as a trophy. We need to change this as a society and provide girls with strong and self-conscious role models.

LadiesGamers Dungeons of Dreadrock

Development of the Game

Is the game developed specifically with a women’s audience in mind?

That’s actually not the case. While it is true that the game makes gender roles a topic, it does so subtly. The opening scene informs the player that women are not expected to carry weapons in the world’s lore, and the protagonist is a young woman who defies the elders. But the game is not developed or designed for a specific audience. I also have a son (3 y/o), and of course, I want him (and other boys) to grow up with strong female characters in media, too, because media consumption will also (partially) shape his view of women his entire life.

LadiesGamers Dungeons of Dreadrock

Inclusive Industry

How important is it to you that the gaming industry is an inclusive industry, being a good representation of society?

Hm. I know about the ongoing discussions that the gaming industry is not diverse (enough). While I consider that to be true, I never participated in a public (or any private) discussion about this topic. There are a lot of areas of work that are male or female-dominated. If you’re going to change this, you’ll have to ask for the reasons: I think the lack of women, e.g. (i know the discussion is broader), is not so much due to the fact that the male game development workforce doesn’t want to admit women to games (by rejecting applications). Instead, I suppose that the reason for this imbalance starts with an imbalance in the applications sent to companies.

Additionally, I suppose that the reason for this imbalance starts with an imbalance in the applications sent to companies. I agree that one reason for this might be the “intimidation” of potential applicants by the aforementioned imbalance. But I would also assume that male persons might have a stronger “inclination” towards video games, not for biological reasons, but because of the different role models they grow up with. So what I’m trying to say here is, we can solve this and other imbalances at the same time if we stop making different toys for boys and girls.

LadiesGamers Dungeons of Dreadrock

Playing Video Games

Are there any other video games with female leads you admire?

Actually no. But that’s probably because I don’t really play much anymore. That being said, I think the new Star Wars movies do a very good job of providing great role models for girls.

You have a daughter. Do you feel it’s important that she plays video games and why?

It’s actually not important to me that she plays. I think today’s kids are likely to consume too much digital media (mainly video games and TV) rather than too little. I’d say watching TV is a passive activity, so playing games (solving problems) is to some extent preferable to me. That being said, I think a lot of today’s games are very repetitive and/or apply addictive reward mechanisms. A movie at least has a start and an ending, and it doesn’t give you a fast-levelling avatar that provides you with the illusion of making progress (of any kind) as a human being yourself.

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