Video games often miss the mark when it comes to representing non-white hair, particularly Black hair, styles, and textures. You might get an afro, cornrows, and dreadlocks – all three, if you’re lucky – though Dove and a team of dedicated designers are aiming to improve representation for indie and AAA developers alike.
Dove partnered with the Open Source Afro Hair Library on Code My Crown, an extensive new resource offering models, in-depth explainers, and even coding guides to help developers and designers accurately create Black hair in their projects. The Open Source Afro Hair Library already includes a broad selection of models and textures that are free for anyone to download, but Code My Crown’s guide takes it further by giving creators the tools and education to actually build their own models from the ground up.
Dove said in its Code My Crown announcement that the project fits with the company’s goal of building a “world where beauty is a positive experience for everyone.”
“The importance of accurately and respectfully depicting textured hair in video games cannot be overstated, and we are proud to play a small part in taking action to set a new standard for diversity and representation in video games,” Leandro Barreto, senior vice president of Global Dove Masterbrand, said in a press release. “There is more to be done to ensure Black gamers see themselves in the games they play, but we can’t do it alone. We are calling on gaming developers and industry leaders to join us to help make virtual beauty a reality with Code My Crown.”
Data showing that a large majority of Black gamers feel dissatisfied with the current state of representation also inspired Code My Crown.
It’s not hard to see where the dissatisfaction comes from. Cozy games like Palia and even The Sims offer few or no options for Black hairstyles. Character creators in major games, including Monster Hunter and Baldur’s Gate 3, occasionally give players a few more choices, though these either fall into established tropes or don’t accurately represent the style or the culture unless players mod their own styles.
Written by Josh Broadwell on behalf of GLHF