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.
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A Screen Shot from the Dark Souls Video Game Which Allows Players to Customise their Hairline
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