Dove has always championed Real Beauty – breaking unrealistic beauty standards and putting real women and realistic body types at the heart. Since 2004, the Dove Self-Esteem Project (DSEP) has become the largest-self esteem education provider in the world, giving girls the tools they need to build self-esteem and body confidence.
But the world is changing. More and more girls spend time in the virtual world of gaming, and an estimated 60% start playing video games before the age of 10. While gaming can have a positive influence, like finding new connections, communities, and ways to express your true self, the portrayal of women in video games isn’t always so positive.
Female characters in games do not accurately represent the diverse gamers of the world – and are often heavily sexualised, and created within narrow, unrealistic beauty standards. 74% of girls wish the characters in video games looked more like women in real life, and parents are worried about the impact this representation will have on young gamers.
Introducing Real Virtual Beauty
That’s why we’re taking our mission to the virtual world. Dove is entering the world of gaming with the global launch of Real Virtual Beauty, a series of commitments challenging the representation of beauty online, and changing education for self-esteem in the virtual realm.
We’ve created a coalition of allies in the gaming industry and beyond, including Epic Games’ Unreal Engine, and Women in Games. Together with our Real Virtual Beauty Coalition, we’re on a mission to educate and empower game developers to create a healthier, more diverse representation of girls and women in gaming around the world.
Our ambition? Diverse video game characters. We’re building a global character art collection that appropriately represents female characters in gaming (that developers will be able to access free of charge). To support this, we’re also launching the Real Beauty in Games Training programme – an online course designed to educate developers, creators and artists about beauty and diversity in gaming.
Real Beauty in Games Training
Gamers want true-to-life diversity even in the fantasy realm of gaming, but there’s work to be done on female representation in video games – especially when it comes to the creation of avatars. Featuring modules developed in partnership with the Centre for Appearance Research (CAR), the Dove Self Esteem Project (DSEP), and industry experts, the course will help teach creators how to avoid unconscious bias across the stages of avatar and character development, giving female players an opportunity to redefine how they are represented across the gaming experience.
The coalition and training programme are part of our collaborative efforts to galvanise industry innovators who have the power to drive change – giving them the tools and skills they need today, to help build a more inclusive world online – now, and in the years to come.
The Real Virtual Beauty character art collection
As a result of this training, Dove and Epic Games are launching the Real Virtual Beauty character art collection which is dedicated to broadening the representation and increasing inclusivity in gaming.
We are inviting gaming creators and developers to participate in more creative ways to express individuality, to help evolve self-representations in the avatar world. Dove will deliver a series of grants and awards to the best creators, to help fund and expand their work.
Let’s change representation in gaming
Together with our partners, Real Virtual Beauty can lead the way in transforming gaming into a positive place for women and girls.