Did you know that 50% of people who play games on most days are female? 46% of those are also aged over 40 but that’s a statistic for another article. Anyway, I bet you’d never have guessed that due to the lack of representation for female gamers.
Beauty brand Dove often sits at the cutting edge of media inclusivity being one of the first brands to pioneer representation of plus size women, mature women and other people who don’t adhere to eurocentric beauty and gender standards. Dove launched their larger Self-Esteem Project in 2004, the goal being to help younger consumers develop a positive relationship with the way they look and combat appearance-related anxiety. 74% of women wish more female video game characters looked like women in real life, while 62% of women feel misrepresented in gaming, according to a survey conducted by Dove, Women in Games (a nonprofit that focuses on equity in the video game industry), and the Centre for Appearance research.
Their next mission? Launching a training course to make gaming avatars more representative and inclusive as the brand looks to connect with female gamers.
The Unilever brand partnered with the Centre for Appearance Research, which focuses on the role of appearance and body image in people’s lives, to have game designers create a wider range of avatars and avoid the hyper-sexualization of female characters. The training is made up of six 10-minute long modules and final avatars will appear in a free-to-use character gallery available on Epic Games’ Art Station, a 3D creation software.
Dove will also fund a series of grants and awards to the best creators, along with the opportunity to have their avatars featured in upcoming games.
“Our goal with the training course is to educate game developers on the research that’s available so artists understand why representation in game design matters, and also to teach artists how to use the tools and techniques available to create more authentic characters so all players feel empowered to have fun with friends,” Julie Lottering, director of Unreal Engine Education, said in a statement.
The partnership comes as several female-focused brands look to reach young women in gaming. OPI, Tampax, Benefit Cosmetics, American Eagle and Hally Hair have all entered the gaming space to connect with the younger women who are traditionally overlooked by the gaming industry. Just under half of gamers (41 percent) identify as female, according to a 2020 report by the Entertainment Software Association, a trade association for the video game industry.
Dove has also partnered with Toya, a female-founded and led Roblox studio, to create SuperU Story, a Roblox game aimed at building self-esteem and body confidence in young female gamers. The game was validated by experts from the Centre for Appearance Research. The game takes place in “The Academy,” a school for kids with superpowers that’s under siege by a group of rogue students spreading negativity. Players can customise their avatars to experience a more realistic version of beauty, team up with friends to explore the school, earn power-ups and complete quests.