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Microsoft wants Jim Sterling's Avatar to be as fat as him

11:00 PM on 12.19.2009 // Ben Perlee

If the state of Avatars in my Xbox Live Friends list is any indication, all my friends are apparently closet Master Chiefs, attendees of PAX 09, steam punk aficionados and Halo Waypoint award whores. Seriously, that floating ball thing is attached to almost every other person on that list.

However, you may want to hold back buying anymore doodads for your little digital likeness, according to 1UP through a recent Microsoft patent called "Avatar Individualized by Physical Characteristic." This patent is the ultimate form of corporate digital "guilt tripping," in which player's Avatars are designed to reflect the weight and shape of the people they are representing. Nevermind that their console exemplifies the ultimate in a sedentary life by not only promoting lazy living, but presenting products that grant wish-fulfillment of being more active human beings.

It's like watching Nickelodeon on a Sunday afternoon, only to be told in some patronizing condescending PSA to go outside and play. "No disingenuous corporate watchdog group," we will stand up and say, "We will not be patronized!" Does Jim Sterling want to be told that his Avatar thinks he's unhealthily overweight? No! Does Brad Nicholson want to be reminded that his obsession with physical fitness borders on pathological OCD? Maybe!

Of course, we all know this is probably tied to some WiiFit-like game for Project Natal. The patent says it functions by "Linking the avatar to a physical characteristic of a user provides leverage to provide incentives or constraints that can encourage good behavior (e.g., healthy behaviors, virtuous behaviors, etc.)" There's some other third party trickery going on, such as blood and glucose monitors, so this service will probably work like the Miis do in WiiFit, which really isn't so bad, especially if they don't force it on players. But do they really have to tell us we are fat? This is America. We like being fat, just not told so. Jeeze.



Ben Perlee,
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