Anyway, so I've always wanted Microsoft to give me the ability to make a fat avatar that really looks like me.
But this is not what I had in mind:
Microsoft has shown a keen interest in boosting the Xbox 360's status as a community hub. Leading this initiative has been Xbox Live Avatars, which offer a 3D representation of their owners on the online service. Now, Microsoft is contemplating tying real-world health and psychological data to said avatars in an effort to discourage many-a-gamer's sedentary lifestyle.Okay, let's stop right there. Aside from fat-hating, I would like to note how gob-smackingly disablist this has the potential to be. Just on the most cursory, simplistic level, this has the "I assume every fat, disabled person I see is disabled because they're fat, and don't consider the possibility they're fat because they're disabled" problem about which I've written before. (Which I stress is only the tip of the iceberg as concerns disablism here.)
Last week, Microsoft's patent application titled "Avatar Individualized by Physical Characteristic" popped up in the US Patent and Trademark Offices' online database. The filing details a way in which Microsoft can introduce a heightened degree of reality into the appearance of gamers' avatars by utilizing a third-party health-care data repository (Microsoft gives Health Vault as an example) or a Wii Vitality Sensor-like device.
To incentivize people to improve their physical well-being, Microsoft's filing notes that gamers will be locked out of certain components of a game or a chat room until the proper health parameters are met.
"Physical data that reflects a degree of health of the real person can be linked to rewards of capabilities of a gaming avatar, an amount of time budgeted to play, or a visible indication," the filing reads. "Thereby, people are encouraged to exercise."
"For example, a locally executed video game on a game console or other device capable of interactive play rewards players that have achieved a degree of health or athletic skill in real life, even if played in a solitary fashion," the filing reads. "Alternatively or in addition, the degree of health can unlock additional playing time or can unlock certain aspects of a game, such as additional levels."
Naturally, it gets worse:
Microsoft's filing goes on to note that it wouldn't just be physical characteristics that could be refined. "The physical characteristics can be further extended to psychological traits associated with the physical person, including intelligence, religious beliefs, political affiliations, and hobbies that affect the rendering of an avatar," the application reads.So, if you're looking for me online, put out an APB for a fatty with a giant brain, two feminist fists, and a Jesus-shaped hole in her heart (as my conservative Christian correspondents are fond of telling me I have), wielding a pink laptop emblazoned with a feminazi cooter. I'll probably be playing Peggle.
[H/T to Shaker Napalmnacey.]