Dove, in collaboration with the Open Source Afro Hair Library, has just launched a groundbreaking initiative, “Code my Crown”, setting a new bar in the gaming industry for the representation of Black hair textures and styles. This pioneering project introduces the first-ever comprehensive and free guide for coding textured hair and protective styles in video games, marking a significant stride towards inclusivity in digital representation.

The gaming world, despite its rapid technological evolution, has long grappled with the limited and often stereotypical portrayal of textured hair. This gap in representation has been a point of contention, with a substantial portion of the Black gaming community feeling underrepresented. Dove’s “Code my Crown” initiative directly addresses this issue, bringing an unprecedented level of detail and authenticity to the depiction of Black hair in virtual environments.

Developed by a team of Black 3D artists, the guide is a rich repository of 15 meticulously crafted hair sculpts. These sculpts, accompanied by comprehensive instructions, 360-degree photo mappings, and cultural insights, equip developers worldwide with the tools needed to create more realistic and varied representations of Black hair styles.

The initiative isn’t just a technical advancement; it’s a cultural breakthrough. Many contributors to “Code my Crown” are self-taught artists, whose work embodies personal innovation and a deep connection to the cultural significance of Black hairstyles. Their contributions are not just models of hair but also embodiments of cultural identity and expression.

“In the real world, there is an incredible variety of Black hairstyles. But this is rarely reflected in the gaming world. When Black hair is absent from the games we play or are consistently low-quality, it communicates that Black players and our culture are an afterthought, that our stories aren’t worth telling. How else can we explain the ubiquity of matted Cornrows, bald patches instead of parts, giant disco ‘Fros, and the messy, Unstyled Locs? Why is a common Fade or Twist Out rarely an option?” explains A.M. Darke, Lead Code my Crown Contributor & Founder of the Open Source Afro Hair Library

“Out of hundreds of possible hairstyles to choose from in the video games I play most often, only a handful are textured hairstyles. It feels great to play an active role in a cause that I truly believe in. I am personally grateful to the many talented artists that have selflessly shared their knowledge before me. Their generosity has shaped my artistic journey and it feels incredibly rewarding to give back to our artistic community with this guide, by sharing my knowledge of 3D, as well as my personal experiences,” notes Isaac Olander, Lead Code my Crown Developer, 3D Artist and Character Modelling & Digital Sculpting Expert

“At Dove, we believe every single person should see their beauty represented in the world around them – this is no different for the virtual world. 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,” explains Leandro Barreto, Senior Vice President, Global Dove Masterbrand. “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.” 

Dove’s involvement in this project is in line with its commitment to diversity and inclusivity. As a prominent supporter of the CROWN Act, Dove has actively campaigned against race-based hair discrimination. Extending its advocacy from the real world to virtual spaces, Dove is now leveraging its influence to drive positive change in the gaming industry.

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