The world of gaming has come under some scrutiny recently, particularly as the metaverse enters our mainstream vocabulary.
Despite stereotypes, women and girls make up a large percentage of the gaming community. In fact, research by Newzoo found that women account for almost half (46%) of gamers, and collectives like Black Girl Gamers are heightening Black Women’s voices in gaming.
But a new report has found that the games industry still reflects narrow beauty standards, leaving many women and girls feeling underrepresented and their self-esteem negatively impacted.
The research, from Dove, has been co-published with Women in Games, an international organisation striving for equity and parity for all women and girls in games, and the Centre for Appearance Research (CAR) – and coincides with a campaign that aims to «shatter beauty stereotypes and equip the next generation of young creators and players with the tools to build self-esteem and body confidence».
It found that 60% of girl gamers feel misrepresented and recognise a lack of diversity as a key issue in video games, while 35% of young girls state their self-esteem is negatively impacted after seeing a lack of diversity in characters and avatars.
Meanwhile, 60% of young women said they’d feel more confident in the way they look if they saw characters that reflected real life, and over 50% of parents worry these issues could negatively affect their child’s attitudes going forward.
Dove is launching Real Virtual Beauty, a concept which will provide training courses that will help game creators reflect the diversity we see in everyday life, and to avoid contributing to stereotypes and biases in design. Their final works will be showcased in a character gallery, to showcase the authentic and inclusive representation of women and girls across the games world.
Along with the campaign, Dove has introduced its own Roblox game, called SuperU Story – «the world’s first video game specifically designed to equip young girls with the tools they need to help combat negative self-esteem». The free platform enables young girls to customise their own avatars with different skin tones, abilities, conditions and body types.