In a press release Monday, Girls Who Code said the platform, called Girls Who Code Girls, is designed to “challenge a gaming culture marked by misogyny.” Currently, over 76% of video game developers are men and as a result, women rarely get to see themselves represented in video game characters.
“We want our students to know that they deserve to take up space in gaming and game development, and can create characters that reflect the best parts of who they are,” said Tarika Barrett, CEO of Girls Who Code.
Even when women characters are featured in video games, they are frequently oversexualized with little to no other options. For example, games like Tomb Raider, Mortal Kombat and Overwatch all feature women characters wearing tight outfits and showing lots of skin.
Girls Who Code Girls gives women and girls an opportunity to have more control of how they are represented in video games by offering endless code-able options for skin tone, body size, hair texture and other features.
The collection of avatars designed by users will also be licensable and offered to gaming companies to help them create more inclusive games.
Girls Who Code was founded in 2012 by activist Reshma Saujani to close the gender gap in technology. The nonprofit says it has reached 500,000 students through in-person and virtual programming.