The other day Emmy and I were driving home from school when she asked me to play a game when we got home. Now this is nothing new, it happens quite frequently. And frequently I ask her which game she would like to play and she can tell me. There are times, however, when she cannot remember the name of the game she wants to play, and that is when the fun begins. She tried to describe it to me, and I try to figure out what the heck she is talking about. This was one of those days.
E: “Mommy, I want to play that game that takes time”
Me: “Baby, they all take time.”
E: “No, not time, TIME. You know the one. With all the girls. And the ooze.”
Me: “Oooooh, One Deck Dungeon!”
Yep, One Deck Dungeon, published by Asmadi Games, and designed by Chris Cieslik, the one that takes TIME, and has all the girls. Now here’s the thing. When I was trying to figure out what she was talking about it was the “all the girls” that brought it together for me. Do you know why? It is the only game that I own that can be described that way. The other day I got a new game in and she asked me if she could play the girl. I explained this new game did not have characters, if she played with me, she would just be herself. It got me to thinking about the games that I play with Emmy and what character choices she makes in them.
Emmy always chooses the female characters, or the pink or purple wooden bits. She does not like when they are not included in the game. If you are a game designer, and you are reading this, these things matter to her, and to the thousands of other little girls out there who want to identify with the characters in the games you are producing. Girls want to see themselves in these fictional worlds you are creating. There are meeple colors outside the traditional red, blue, yellow and green. A pink or purple can replace these easily. It is one of the reasons she first wanted to play Agricola. They have purple farmers, and that was all she needed to see to be interested.
I remember when One Deck Dungeon was on Kickstarter last year. I read a few articles where the creator, Chris Cieslik came under heavy fire for making the game all female. He got tons of internet posts flaming him for not including male characters. Chris held fast to his stance though, and both of his games, One Deck Dungeon, and One Deck Dungeon: Forest of Shadows, have only female characters. Unfortunately this should not define the game, but for many it does. Many people threatened to pull their funding unless he changed, but folks, he stood fast. This decision, may have lost him a few backers, but it has made all the difference to my little girl.
Enough of all of that, how does it play? Outside of the character selection the game play is easily accessible to her. She loves the different colored dice, and the different baddies she can face. It should be no surprise to anyone, anywhere, that her favorite is Glooping Ooze. Now, let me say this, she has never won a game, but for her it is more the journey than the destination in this game. She loves assembling her dice army, and seeing what is lurking behind the next door. She loves figuring out which dice to use, and what hits to take. She doesn’t always make the best choices, but she loves it anyway. The more she plays the further in the quest she is getting, and she has made it to the big baddie at the end a few times. It ends ugly from there, but it also ends with her smiling and asking to play again. The game appeals to her, and allows her to be in charge and make decisions on her own. As a bonus it sharpens her math skills as she adds the dice to see if they can satisfy the requirements on the cards. To date, she has played this game more than I have! She plays solo, and I make sure that she uses all of her time, and other minute rule housekeeping that she may need help with. Overall, she can play this on her own, and has even taught others how to play.
After playing these games she takes these worlds into her own long after the game has ended. After playing One Deck Dungeon she was running around my house as a warrior, a ranger, a cleric, or a dwarf. She set up her stuffed friends in different dungeons, or rooms, around my house. She ran around defeating them, and every now and then dropping little red cubes, or HP, as she did so. Her imagination was fueled and she was loving it. Designers, it matters!
“One Deck Dungeon is good, you guys. I like it because it is about monsters and monsters are my favorite thing. I like that I have to fight them. All the characters are girls, and I’m a girl, and all the characters are not usually girls! To play, you roll dice, and there are pink dice, my friends! After you roll the dice you see if you defeat the monsters or not. And that, my friends, is how you play One Deck Dungeon! Bye everybody, I’ll see you again soon, friends!”
I haven’t said this enough, it matters, straight from her, it matters!!
One Deck Dungeon gets a solid:
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