The concept for Frobelles was created in 2018 by Yvonne Ottley. Her daughter, at the time 6 years old, loved using the tablet to play dress up games. During screen time, she turned to her one day and asked: “Why can’t I play with the black girls and how come they don’t have hair like mine?”. Yvonne found out that the games her daughter had been playing did not include black characters, if they did she would have to pay a premium to access them, even then, the characters did not truly represent a black girl’s features or hair.
Frobelles is a dress up game featuring characters that young black girls can relate to and aspire to be. Over the last two years, Yvonne has been working alongside her daughter, Alyssa, to design the looks and hairstyles for the characters of the game; sisters Coco, Kelli and Krista. The game is simple, colourful and fun. Players get to choose from an array of beautiful afro hairstyles, select stylish clothing and accessories to complete the look, with the voice of Alyssa guiding the players through each stage. Each Frobelle has their own unique fashion sense and hairstyle choices, from locs, to puffs to statement t-shirts such as “Girls Can” and “Girl Power”.
Once players have completed the game, they will also be able to share their beautiful looks on the Frobelles Instagram whilst browsing styles created by other users for inspiration. Prior to the game launch, Frobelles has been working on building a community of 10,000 Instagram followers through interactive content and in collaboration with girls who embody the Frobelles spirit through their brand ambassador programme.
Frobelles is more than a fun dress up game for children. It seeks to change the industry by aspiring to bridge the diversity gap in games for kids, particularly where there is a lack of representation. According to a recent study by Currys PC World, on average, across 10 genres, you’re likely to get a white-only protagonist in a game (67%) compared to people of colour (3%).
It is no surprise that this is the case since only 2% of game designers are black / African-American / African / Afro-Caribbean. Black people can be severely underrepresented and misrepresented in games. With children spending up to 2 hours a day playing games, it is worth recognising the importance of black children seeing inspiring characters that look like them on a daily basis.
Not only this, it is an easy way to educate children of all skin tones on the physical and cultural characteristics that are unique to women of colour. Frobelles reaches children at a critical age, a time where they start to understand differences, begin to form attitudes about themselves and others based on the world around them.
As prejudices are learnt not inherited, it is important to have a positive representation of people of colour in everyday media so that children can learn to respect and empathise with others. Failure to do this can lead to negative attitudes following children into their adult life.
“We deserve to be well represented in all areas of media and creative content. The Gaming industry is no exception. I truly believe we are making the difference and the game is a fun and engaging way for girls to learn through play. The key message here is black is beautiful, we are challenging the European standards of beauty and championing OUR beauty as we know it to be.”
The frobelles game will be free to download, allowing access to one of three characters and featuring over 20 style items to choose from. Players have the option to upgrade the game for a one time purchase of £3.99 to unlock the rest of the characters and update their looks with new collections. The Frobelle’s website also provides empowering children’s clothing and accessories including t-shirts, bags, phone cases and mugs with their favourite Frobelle character.
Release date: Tuesday 10th November 2020