Microsoft recently filed a patent for “Avatars Individualized By Physical Characteristics.” If you’re wondering what that means, the patent tells us bit about what is planned.
An avatar generator for a virtual environment reflects a physiological characteristic of the user, injecting a degree of reality into the capabilities or appearance. Thereby, many of the incentives of the real world are replicated in a virtual environment. Physiological data that reflect 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. Thereby, people are encouraged to exercise.
Essentially, if you’re fat, this will make you’re avatar fat and give you limited abilities compared to someone who is in shape. While this might encourage some to get to the gym, I can see it offending quite a few people out there. Remember the 12 yr old Wii Fit called fat? I’m sure instances of this might happen again with something like this.
While there is no indication if this patent is for something on the Xbox 360, one would think that this is going to be for Xbox 360 avatars and more than likely involve project Natal. While we have no evidence of that, it makes a degree of sense considering Natal is out next year.
I’m sure if Microsoft was asked if this is linked to Natal in any way, they would give the old, “we don’t take part in rumors or speculation.” We’ll just have to keep on the look out for more on this over the next few months. If anything should come up, we will let you know.