Empowering women through gaming


Sherria Ayuandini, a devoted board game fan, frequently hosted game nights with the McDonnell Academy Scholars when she lived in St. Louis. Dr. Ayuandini is a McDonnell Academy alumnus and partner Scholar from the University of Indonesia. Her 30th birthday bash, a colossal game night, became the “highlight of her decade” as many Scholars joined in the fun.

Yet, Sherria noticed a troubling trend in modern board games: the replication of colonialism, where players plunder and conquer destinations. She yearned for games that promoted decolonization to bring balance to the industry.

In 2020, she submitted her game, Kartini: From Darkness to Light, to the Zenobia Award competition, celebrating diverse designs inspired by history. Her game became a finalist, centered on women’s empowerment during Indonesia’s late 1800s and early 1900s struggle for education and freedom from Dutch colonialism.

The game’s Kickstarter campaign was a resounding success, fully funded within 14 hours. Swedish publisher, Ion Game Design, recognizing its historical significance, picked up the project for wider distribution.  Sherria also collaborated with Professor Christienne Hinz from the Department of History at Southern Illinois University to create an educational guideline for classrooms, promoting “Kartini” as a tool for learning about empowerment and decolonization.

With the game now featured on Gamefound, a crowdfunding platform, Kartini: From Darkness to Light continues to inspire a global audience.

Sherria’s story demonstrates the impactful potential of gaming as a medium for education and social change. Through “Kartini: From Darkness to Light,” she has effectively contributed to fostering an inclusive and diverse gaming community.