Dove is challenging narrow beauty stereotypes within the games industry with a new campaign that promotes avatars that look like real women.
The Real Virtual Beauty in Games campaign, launched in collaboration with technology companies Women in Games, Epic Games and Toya, aims to promote more diverse and inclusive female characters.
Research by the Unilever-owned brand revealed that 35% of women and girls feel the lack of diversity in avatars negatively impacts their self-esteem.
Meanwhile, 60% would be more confident in the way they look if they saw characters that reflected real life.
The campaign was launched with a film that featured four gamers of different ages, nationalities, backgrounds and physical abilities, who were all transformed into avatars.
Further actions that will be taken by the campaign to address the lack of diversity in games include:
- Real Beauty in Games Training: an education course in partnership with Epic Games’s Unreal Engine which invites creators to design their own avatars, “which will help reflect the diversity we see in everyday life,” the brand said.
- Real Virtual Beauty Character Gallery: an online character library hosted on Epic Games’s Art Station which will raise the standard for authentic, diverse and inclusive representation of women and girls across the stages of avatar development.
- SuperU Story: the world’s first Roblox games experience designed to deliver self-esteem education, enabling young girls to customise their avatars so they can experience more representative versions of beauty.
As part of its ongoing commitment, Dove will also deliver a series of grants and awards to the best creators to fund and expand their work.
Why is Dove addressing the lack of diversity in gaming?
The brand’s campaign for the games community comes after research it conducted highlighted that 60% of female gamers feel misrepresented in video games.
“Dove believes that beauty should be a source of confidence, not anxiety, in every aspect of life – both real and virtual,” said Leandro Barreto, VP at Dove Global.
“Although the games industry has made significant strides to become more inclusive, progress needs to be accelerated to challenge the narrow definitions of beauty still visible in the virtual world.
"We hope to make a real impact on the millions of women and girls who are spending their free time playing games.”
Julie Lottering, Director of Unreal Engine Education, commented on the partnership: “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.”
This is not the first time the beauty company has tried to help tackle societal issues.
Dove launched a social media initiative to portray black fatherhood accurately and has worked on campaigns to help end race-based hair discrimination.