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Celebrity hairstylist Lacy Redway recently debuted new Black haistyles in the latest Sims release as part of a move to increase hair diversity in video games.
In an interview with Allure, Redway announced that five new Black hairstyles would be available in the new The Sims 4 “Get Together” expansion pack. Released earlier this month on March 16, the expansion pack features hair designed by Redway in various styles, such as braids and top knots with baby hairs.
The new hairstyles focus on representing women, men and children through the story of the Michaelsons. Living in Hopewell Hills, the family of four gets its newest member when Sebastian, the grandfather, comes to live with them; the game focuses on the relationships between them all as they adjust to the grandfather and a new baby living with them.
In fruition since February 2022, Redway detailed how her collaboration with The Sims revolved around depicting the hairstyles as realistically as possible.
“I was really specific about parting and baby hairs and how things lay, or how the hair came out of the scalp,” she said in an interview with Allure. “I feel bad because sometimes I would send back so many rounds of feedback on specific styles or be very specific about hairlines and how the hair grew out of the head, or how the braid came out of the scalp.”
Despite the increasingly advanced technological additions being made in video games, the representation of Black hairstyles is still a missing piece in their game design. High-profile video games, such as the Elder Scrolls series and Destiny, have all failed to offer accurate hair design.
As more Black creators enter the video gaming field, however, initiatives have already begun to address this issue.
In fruition since 2021, Open Source Afro Hair Library is one of the newest projects dedicated to pushing for more inclusivity in hair design in the virtual world. Led by UC Santa Cruz assistant professor A.M. Darke, the initiative features the works of Black artists depicting 3D-modeled Black hairstyles; this is the video gaming industry’s first free database to offer such.
“We’re on a mission to radically expand the images we see on screen, as well as the people who make them,” said the creators of Open Source Afro Hair Library. “More than a resource, together we are building a queer, feminist, creative community to celebrate every shade of Black.”
After two years in creation, the initiative will officially launch on Juneteenth of this year.