The lack of diversity in video games has been a longstanding issue in the industry. Black gamers play for fun, community, and self-expression. However, the depiction of textured hair and protective styles remains limited. Black characters are often highly stereotypical and not representative of their real-world counterparts.

Dove and Open Source Afro Hair Library launched ​​Code My Crown – the world’s first complete and free guide for coding textured hair and protective styles in video games to combat the issue of representation.

Code My Crown is an instructional guide for ​coders and developers ​​​​​to code more diverse, true-to-life depictions of Black hairstyles. The 3D designs ensure more representation in the virtual world of gaming.

“Often, if Black artists are asked to create something representative of their culture, they are not given the autonomy and agency to create something authentic and representative. They’re asked to recreate someone else’s idea of Blackness,” said A.M. Darke, owner of Open Source Afro Hair Library and lead contributor for Code My Crown. 

Darke oversaw the contributions of OSAHL’s design team, which included 3D artists from around the world and across the Black diaspora. She stated she approached the team with the opportunity based on Dove’s work with the Crown Act

“We looked at what would be the potential impact of this,” she said. 

The designers behind the project faced the challenge of creating 15 original 3D sculptures of textured hair with no templates.

Each sculpture comes with step-by-step instructions, 360-degree photo mapping, and cultural insight so that any developer, anywhere, can better model and represent textured hair and styles in the digital world. Many Code My Crown ​​artists are self-taught.

Darke said the absence of any prior framework made it imperative that artists of color worked on the project. “At the end of the day, everybody was so motivated because we understood how necessary this was.”

She continued, “This is what you see Black folks do. We usually have to say, ‘This just has to happen.’ We have to be so generous with our culture to see ourselves represented well. So we weren’t going to do anything that felt subpar.”


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She emphasized that Dove’s understanding of hiring and paying Black creators to create things impacting Black consumers indicated their commitment to the guide’s mission.

“If you say you need to have a programmer, you’ve got to pay them for their specialized knowledge and specialized training…Black hair is a specialized training,” she said. “This is trained knowledge, cultural ancestral knowledge that gets refined and it should be taken seriously and valued.”

The hairstyles in the Code My Crown guide include braid-outs, wash-n-gos, two-strand twists, Bantu knots, Afro-puff ponytails and so much more.

Members of the OSAHL worked to ensure the details of each design felt authentic to women of color. Isaac Olander, CEO of TALLGRAN Studios, assisted with the design of some of the 3-D sculptures. 

Celebrity hairstylist Nai’Vasha Johnson helped bring the idea to life. Her expertise in working with all hair textures is evident in her client list, including Tracy Ellis Ross, Alicia Keys and Ava DuVernay.

Dove also made an effort to include Black gamers in the process. Content creator and professional streamer Amira Virgil was a model in the project. As a professional gamer, Virgil has been championing representation in the space for years. In 2016, she created the Melanin Pack for the infamous life simulation game, The Sims. She also owns Noir Network, a networking platform for Black women in content creation and digital spaces.

“It’s normalized for brands to take advantage of content creators, especially Black creators. I wanted to create a space where we could network and educate women on how to get the pay and opportunities they deserve,” she said.

Virgil shared her excitement when Dove revealed her 3D model donning twin cornrows.

“When I saw that finished result, I almost cried!” she said. “I said, ‘Oh my God, you got me down to my nose ring.’ It was so cool.”

Code My Crown provided more than style options for Black gamers; it exposed the importance of having Black creators and decision-makers in gaming. Darke and Virgil agreed that removing the bias of images and options associated with white gamers is the key to promoting inclusion.

After sharing the project with her massive following, Virgil’s overall feedback was, “Game developers have no excuse now. None.”

Check out the trailer for Dove’s Code My Crown below!