*Oakland-based artist and UC Santa Cruz assistant professor A.M. Darke is building a team of creatives who want to make Black hair more realistic in video games.
Here’s more from the report:
The library will be a free, user-friendly, highly curated 3D model database of Black hairstyles and textures and a feminist, anti-racist resource for digital artists and 3D content creators. Armed with more deliberate options for Black hair in video games, it “seeks to address the lack of thoughtful representation of Blackness in games, virtual/augmented reality, and other 3D media” and will lower the barrier for all future creators to “integrate accurate, diverse, and respectful representations of Blackness in digital media”. Before launching the project, Darke did research into the depiction of Black hair in the space, finding that users must scroll past crude racial stereotypes and misogynistic representations of women.
“All of us can be caretakers, all of us can be stewards, all of us can look at the work and think about how to use it ethically and point out unethical practices,” Darke explained. “I want to create a space that’s open for all Black folks to have this conversation about what we want this to be.”
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The Oakland-based artist is frustrated by how Black hairstyles in most video games are limited or poorly designed.
“With every problem, chances are there’s already some Black people who are thinking about this, who are working on this, know how to do it, and just we have not asked them,” Darke said. “My thoughts were, ‘We know how to do this, but may not have the time, the material and communal support to author on our own visions.’”
As reported by MadameNoire, Darke has so far granted six 3D artists $1,500 stipends to create one character bust showcasing “nine unique hairstyles.”
“I am modeling the Open Source Afro Hair library as an impactful tool similar to other open-source software-based interventions such as Twine, Processing, and Makehuman, but that is explicitly designed to uplift and empower marginalized groups,” Darke wrote on her website. “The use of the term “Afro” in the Hair Library is not just an ethnic description, but a political one, and my vision for the library is that it will be inclusive of all ethnically marginalized hair textures and styles.”
The Open Source Afro Hair Library will debut on Juneteenth 2023 — get a sneak peek here.