DOVE LAUNCHES AFRO HAIR CODERS TOOLKIT

Dove continues to tackle representation in games, as part of its ‘Real Beauty’ initiative, having launched the Code My Crown guide for coding textured hair and protective styles in games.

It comes a year after Dove teamed with Women in Games and Epic Games to roll out the Real Virtual Beauty, and this time sees the Unilever brand collaborate with Open Source Afro Hair Library.

Created by Black artists, Code my Crown is an instructional guide for coders and developers to code more diverse, true-to-life, depictions of Black hairstyles in 3D to ensure more representation in the virtual world of gaming. It is free for anyone to download at Dove.com/CodemyCrown.

Millions of black gamers play for fun, a sense of community, and self-expression – yet, for all the technological advances in the gaming industry, the depiction of textured hair and protective styles continues to be limited, often highly stereotypical, and not representative of the breadth and beauty of its real-world counterpart. 85% of Black gamers believe video games poorly represent textured hair.

A.M. Darke, Lead Code My Crown Contributor & Founder of the Open Source Afro Hair Library, said: “In the real world, there is an incredible variety of Black hairstyles. But this is rarely reflected in the gaming world. When Black hair is absent from the games we play or are consistently low-quality, it communicates that Black players and our culture are an afterthought, that our stories aren’t worth telling. How else can we explain the ubiquity of matted Cornrows, bald patches instead of parts, giant disco ‘Fros, and the messy, Unstyled Locs? Why is a common Fade or Twist Out rarely an option?”

In response to learning that 74% of developers want to play a role in promoting better representation of textured hair in games and learn how to code textured hair, Dove and Open Source Afro Hair Library enlisted a team of Black 3D artists, animators, programmers, and academics – from around the world and across the Black diaspora – to develop 15 original hair sculpts that can lay the foundation for hundreds of virtual hair possibilities.

Each sculpt comes with step-by-step instructions, 360-degree photo mapping, and cultural insight so that any developer, anywhere, can better model and represent textured hair and styles in the digital world. In the absence of formal reference materials for modelling textured hair and styles, many Code My Crown artists are self-taught and their work is a result of trial, effort, and personal innovation.

Women in Games CEO Marie-Claire Isaaman offered: “Representation in games is a key focus for Women in Games, so we applaud this new initiative by Dove which follows the Real Virtual Beauty campaign we collaborated on in 2022. The Code My Crown toolkit will surely prove invaluable to studios around the world.”

Head to Dove.com/CodeMyCrown to access the FREE guide and learn more about Dove’s mission to expand textured hair and protective styles in games.