Journalist Joe Donnelly found help with accepting his hair loss in an unlikely place – online video games.
Adjusting online hairline
After suffering from Male Pattern Hair Loss for a number of years, Joe started to use balding characteristics when creating his avatar in the computer game Dark Souls. The game allows players to customise every detail of their online image, including the ability to give themselves a receding hairline.
Donnelly explains in The Guardian how adapting his avatar’s image helped him defy his real-life balding: “Somehow, the bald-headed GTA avatar I’d designed for myself, using the game’s character customisation tool, was an attempt to outwardly reflect the inevitable. It was a mark of virtual defiance.”
But after being insulted as a “baldy” character whilst playing online, Donnelly began to face up to his own reality: “I began to ask myself: why did it bother me so much? After all, many men accept Male Pattern Baldness. Many even look better for it.” Story continues below
Lack of realistic hair loss representation
Donnelly noted how many video games fail to realistically represent characters as naturally ageing. Whilst a shaved head is an option in games like Grand Theft Auto, it is unusual for male avatars to show thinning hair or the bald spots which can signify male hair loss.
Male Pattern Baldness is the most common hair loss condition in the world, with over two thirds of men likely to be affected. Yet despite this, and the fact that animation technology is constantly developing in order to provide hyper-realistic images, a true representation of male – and female – ageing is still elusive.
One exception to this is when computer game characters are based on real people, such as with the NBA2K series. These popular basketball games have sought to faithfully represent players’ images through their avatars, with their depiction of LeBron James’ hairline changes being the subject of recent media reports.
Accepting and dealing
Many men struggle to deal with the emotional effects of hair loss and Joe credits Dark Souls’ realism as his “saviour”, saying: “Baldness is something many don’t bother about, but for me, this was liberating. Suddenly, for the first time, I felt better able to embrace my evacuating follicles in both virtual and actual reality.”
According to the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgeries, over 300,000 hair transplant procedures are carried out annually and the numbers are increasing. Joe says, “Ultimately, though, hair transplants cost a lot of money. If I had the cash, I don’t know what I’d do”.
Happily, expensive surgery is not the only option for dealing with this genetic condition. There are effective male hair loss treatments available which can help to prevent further shedding and regrow hair. Once they have provided a professional diagnosis, bespoke plans comprising medically-proven treatments can be tailored to each individual’s specific needs by a hair loss specialist.
The Belgravia Centre
The Belgravia Centre is the leader in hair loss treatment in the UK, with two clinics based in Central London. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the UK or the rest of the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which are the largest collection of such success stories in the world and demonstrate the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time for our hair loss helpline or to arrange a free consultation.