Gaming's stratospheric popularity has been dogged for decades by failures to represent women realistically, instead opting in many cases for hypersexualized avatars that can be damaging, especially for young female gamers. Yasu Arakaki, chief creative officer of Ogilvy Perú, looks into this failure and Ogilvy's own recent creative attempt to redress the balance.
Gaming is one of the fastest-growing industries in the world of entertainment. But it's haunted by a problem that has been going on for years and still needs solution: female hypersexualization. Four out of five female characters in gaming show unreal physical proportions and semi-transparent costumes. Female avatars tend to have big breasts, short skirts and few clothes.
It's something that bothers, especially, the new generations.
Girls who start playing at 10 years old grow up seeing a particular pattern of beauty, dress and behavior that becomes, in a sense, socially accepted. But they do not identify with the characters they play as. Often, they choose male characters instead, after they are left with no realistic female options.
It's essential, then, to identify a realistic solution and create an inclusive and real gaming community together.
At Ogilvy Perú we had the opportunity to develop a campaign for AB inBev titled "Shed Skins". Since gaming is one of the most important communicational territories for the brand, we accepted the challenge of making a concrete change, seeking to break with stereotypes.
In order to give young gamers a voice in relation to their participation in the industry, we invited three young gamer girls: Diana Pomar (@dianapomarr); Mariana Fulle (@i_marie02) and Julisa Li (@la_chinex).
We listened to what they wanted from their skins: they told us about comfort, power, and weapons. Each decided what they wanted their avatar to look like and we made it possible. Throughout the creative process, it was fundamental and enriching to work together with women sharing their vision and experience.
Every girl on earth should be able to play without prejudice and with total comfort seeing themselves reflected in their avatars.
We used Core, a free-to-use platform in which each user can intervene with their avatar, their world, and their skin. Anyone can customize their worlds and characters. The resulting skins are far from hypersexualization and more aligned with real tastes.
Spawning a new attitude
This is a step toward conversations about an existing problem. We see it as an opportunity to invite great developers in the world of gaming to create more realistic skins, in order to promote a more inclusive gaming society that invites more and more women to be a part of it.
It's time to make visible a problem so that the great gaming empires understand that the design of their avatars decisively influences the behavior of the new generations. We'd love for them to join this initiative creating real designs so that girls cal start playing in their own skin.