The company may think it is trying to be helpful, but it is only in the most Big Brother of ways, and add a Jewish mother touch as well.
As reported in the Seattle PI and slashdot, Microsoft wants to inform on, in a manner as to shame, the user, of their physical characteristics, ostensibly to push them into some sort of change for the better.
“A newly disclosed Microsoft patent application — Avatar Individualized by Physical Characteristic — takes aim at fat people, proposing to generate fat avatars in gaming environments for individuals whose health records indicate they’re overweight, limiting their game play, and even banning them. From the patent application: ‘An undesirable body weight could be reflected in an overweight or underweight appearance for the avatar. Only requisite health levels are allowed to compete in a certain competition level. A dedicated gamer could exercise for a period of time until his health indicator gadget shows a sufficiently high health/health credit in order to allow reentering the avatar environment.’ Linking one’s gaming avatar to one’s physique, explains Microsoft, will produce healthy and virtuous behaviors in individuals. Microsoft also proposes shaping gaming experiences by using ‘psychological and demographic information such as education level, geographic location, age, sex, intelligence quotient, socioeconomic class, occupation, marital/relationship status, religious belief, political affiliation, etc.'”
The Seattle PI has an actual diagram of the patent application (see link above) so these guys are serious.
While they might actually have the best intentions ( and that’s a very large might ), the patent app, and the associated wording being reported elsewhere really does not put the company in a good light. It’s possible that Microsoft may have stared a firestorm with this one. Can you imagine what happens when an underachiever is labeled mistakenly as a cretin?
In consideration of the fact that the head of Microsoft is not exactly svelte, it must be considered that this may be a case of the one thing that got under the nose of the top level managers.
Besides the Big Brother, Big Mother aspect of this, does Microsoft, from a monetary standpoint, really want those game players away from the Xbox and screen? If they go outside, shamed by the fat avatar, they might actually discover nature, exercise, and possibly girls – then where would Microsoft be?
In my experience, the love of, or the lusting after, a girl trumps just about anything you plug into a wall.
I’ve never seen one of these on anything from an Xbox…