Women in Games, Unreal Engine's Education Team, game studio Toya, and toiletry brand Dove have partnered to create "a series of actions to increase diversity and representation of female characters in games, alongside supporting young girls with self-esteem education across the virtual world".
In a joint statement, the partnership said that despite 1.3 billion women and girls making up half of the global games community – 60 per cent of whom started gaming before turning 13 – 60 per cent of "girl gamers" polled by Dove "feel misrepresented and recognise a lock of diversity as a key issue in video games".
35 per cent of young girls also reported that their "self-esteen is negatively impacted after seeing a lack of diversity in characters and avatars".
To help change this, the companies have launched Real Virtual Beauty, a "series of actions to shatter beauty stereotypes and equip the next generation of young creators and players".
These commitments include education course Real Virtual Beauty. Run by Epic Games' Unreal Engine Education Team and Dove, it will invite game creators to reflect real-life diversity, "avoiding stereotypes and biases" in design and help players and young creators build self-esteem and body confidence.
Real Virtual Beauty Avatar Library, on the other hand, will provide an online character art collection host on Epic Games' Art Station platform with the aim of raising "the standard for the authentic, diverse, and inclusive representation of women and girls across the stages of avatar development".
Finally there's SuperU Story, "the world's first Roblox games experience" which will also deliver self-esteen education, "enabling young girls to customise their own avatars allowing them to experience more representative versions of beauty".
“The representation of women in gaming platforms, products and services has long been an issue,” explains Marie-Claire Isaaman, CEO, Women in Games. “As activists, Women in Games has a key objective to support women and young girls in the games industry, and those who play games, so we are delighted to see Dove and allies in the games industry tackle this."
“We’re honoured to work with Dove and leading experts to create the Real Beauty in Games Training course, and we hope that together as a community, we can make real beauty a reality in digital worlds,” added Julie Lottering, Director, Unreal Engine Education.