Womenize! – Inspiring Stories is our weekly series featuring inspirational women from games and tech. For this edition we talked to Daniela Gamarra, Founder & Creative Director at Indaga Studios. She provides insights on how the games and entertainment industries can have a meaningful impact on the population and culture of a society. Read more about Daniela in this interview:
Hi Daniela! Has there been any project you were involved in, which stood out as being more special than others?

I know that I have been extremely lucky during my career, especially considering my country (Peru) has a pretty small digital entertainment industry. Since the beginning of my career, I have landed on projects that were passion-driven, from webtoons and animation to creating educational projects that helped vulnerable families in my country and the Latin American region.

I have learned so much from each experience that it is hard to pick just one, but if I have to choose a special one, it would be the “Cusco Paradox” game. “Cusco Paradox” was the result of combining many paths and passions in my life. In the development of this project, I was able to use every single piece of knowledge and skill I had, like drawing, art direction, game design, UX/UI, and interactive narrative. I also had to deal with new challenges such as musical direction, team building, project managing, user research, and field research to better understand the complex thematic we chose and finally deal with my first investor.

The “Cusco Paradox” project has a special place in my heart because it was the first time I made an open LGBTQ+ themed project. As many of the readers may know, Peru is a very conservative country, and being part of the LGBTQ+ community is hard for most of us. I wanted to make a game that showed two parts of me: being Peruvian and gay. There are no other games like this in the country and we made it in order to fight homophobia in the Peruvian Andes. 

Finally, “Cusco Paradox” was the first project we developed as a studio (Indaga Studios) and it meant the first step of my lifelong dream: to change the world with digital media.

How does your company Indaga Studios aim to fight social and educational issues?

Can you imagine a game that changes the world? The whole purpose of the studio is to build the world we want to live in. Our vision is to create projects, harnessing the power of digital media, to fight for social causes and to improve education in developing nations.

Growing up in Peru, I witnessed the average media my country produces and, above all, what it consumes. I grew up watching and playing American and Japanese media as a child. The stories were fantastic and exciting, but I could not find stories and characters representing myself or my country. Peru does not have an entertainment industry; there are few productions, and unfortunately, many are low quality, generic, or copies of foreign projects. For this reason, I began to draw, trying to tell stories with images in comics and graphic novels, and create worlds and characters in which I saw myself reflected. When sharing my creations, someone told me: “I would have liked to see this while growing up, I feel that you have told my life”; and it was at that moment when I realized the power that the media has to influence lives, digital media is transformative.

I fervently believe that the media we consume shapes us, changes us, educates us, and, if we use it in the right way, it can become a powerful tool for transformation. We learn from everything we consume, and the question becomes the following: what positive impact can we create through entertainment? My vision for the future is to develop projects that deeply move the player; it is to create entertainment products that are so good that they attract the masses to consume them while talking about real-world problems. I seek to inspire the player to be interested in the issues, igniting the spark of change. 

Indaga Studios aims to create purpose-driven experiences. We want to solve problems with narrative and interactive solutions and give a voice to those who have never had a chance to share their own.

Why do you personally see comfort zones as a nightmare?

I can remember the exact moment in my life when I started feeling this way about “comfort zones”, without knowing that there was a name for them. It was when I wanted to learn how to draw: I was 12 and had just discovered anime and manga. I rapidly became obsessed with learning how to draw like my heroes and how to tell the unforgettable stories they were creating. I felt I could draw forever. Every single time I drew from ages 12 to 15, I was trying to improve: every bad line, every ‘not-great story’ was a nightmare. I wanted to be always challenged, but I was a lonely kid, so I became my greatest competitor and judge. Since that experience I have always wanted to learn more, to experience more. What is out there? What does the world look like? 

When I feel I know enough about something – or if I am just feeling too “ok and comfortable” – I can then sense the urge to grow, to go out there and find a new challenge. It may sound weird to some people but for me, the challenges to improve myself personally and professionally have always been among my most memorable experiences in life.

Thanks for this interview, Daniela!

Daniela’s links: LinkedInIndaga StudiosIndaga Studios on InstagramCusco Paradox Game

Womenize! – Inspiring Stories Feature by Sophie Brugmann