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What can soap teach you about gaming?

This is a sponsored article by Dove, and you may well be wondering what on Earth we are doing cropping up on GameDeveloper.com. You may suspect it's another brand trying to force its way into the gaming scene but it turns out, we're on a bit of an important mission and if you have a couple of minutes to spare, we'll tell you why you should care about it.

February 13, 2023

3 Min Read

Author: by Dove

Presented by Dove

The world’s gaming community is vibrant and diverse. 1.3 billion women make up around half of it, and that number is continuing to grow every year. It’s not a ‘boys-only’ playground, and hasn’t been for a while. According to our study that we published with Women in Games and the Centre for Appearance Research (CAR), around 60 percent of girls start playing video games before they turn 13. So, we think it’s unacceptable that there is an epidemic of misrepresentation that pervades the space we, and they, increasingly love.

From the research we published, it transpired that 60 percent of girls feel misrepresented and identify that lack of diversity is an issue in the gaming industry. Female characters are heavily sexualized with designs that perpetuate narrow, unrealistic beauty standards. 62 percent wish that characters looked more like women in real life, and parents are concerned about the impact this can have on their daughters. There is no excuse; as technology develops and graphics become ever more realistic, it’s time for our women and girls to be faithfully represented, and not reduced to limiting and damaging stereotypes.

Challenging virtual beauty standards 

Dove is a brand that is known for championing ‘real beauty’, we know that unrealistic societal beauty standards can have a demonstrably negative impact on self-esteem and confidence. We created the Dove Self-Esteem project back in 2004, and so far we’ve helped 82 million young people across 150 countries with academically accredited programmes. We feature real women in our ad campaigns – with zero digital distortions – and have loudly advocated for others to do the same to shatter harmful beauty ideals. But advertising isn’t enough, the virtual world has an increasing influence on our future generations. We’ve pledged a series of actions, supported by a coalition of allies across the gaming industry, some you’ll know very well.

We’ve worked with Unreal Engine Education to release a new course, Real Virtual Beauty Training supported by us, Dove, and the Centre for Appearance Research. It teaches you how to create even more diverse and authentic characters for your games. By bringing variety to the appearance and functionality of your characters - particularly female characters - you can be part of a bigger movement to improve the well-being of players by raising their self-esteem, elevating their idea of how they fit in the world, and broadening representation. We want you to upload your character design into your ArtStation profile and tag your work with #RealVirtualBeauty.

From a game development point of view, designing a broad range of characters provides the opportunity to achieve greater originality and creativity. The course will focus on self-expression through character design, creating unique characters and understanding character design principles. Head over to the Epic Games Dev Community and take a look.

Roblox, Super U Story – building girls’ confidence through gaming

We couldn’t resist the opportunity to plug our educational game on Roblox, Super U Story. If you are, or know a girl between the ages of 9 and 16, get them to check it out. We teamed up with female-led studio Toya to create the first-of-its-kind game to help girls build body confidence and self-esteem. The story centers around a school for kids with superpowers and allows players to deeply customize their avatars. The characters within the game itself were designed to reflect the diversity of real life beauty, celebrating diverse bodies, skin tones, and abilities. 

Thanks for your time - let’s make virtual beauty, real.

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