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Xbox's revamped, inclusive avatars will let players “really reflect who they are”

New avatar system will launch on Windows 10 this autumn, with Xbox One devices to follow

Microsoft has shown off the new look for its avatar characters, including a noticeable focus on diversity.

A trailer shown during the Xbox Daily livestream depicted the redesigned art style for the avatars, with examples including a woman in a wheelchair, a footballer with a prosthetic leg and a pregnant lady.

Discussing the new system on stage, interaction designer Kathryn Storm said: "Our new avatars are built with inclusivity absolutely in mind with more options. We want people to feel we have endless options to really reflect who they are."

Lead product manager Bryan Saftler added: "Avatars are meant for whatever you want your digital self to represent. We don't want to put you in a box, there are no more checkboxes."

This ethos extends to the virtual clothing and accessories users will be able to equip. Previously the options available to you were tied to the gender of your avatar, but now players will be able to dress their digital selves in whatever they choose - for example, male avatars can now wear dresses.

Storm summarised this by emphasising: "If you can see it in the store, you can wear it."

The new avatar system has been built in Unity - something Microsoft says gives it more flexibility - with Saftler reiterating that it has been "designed to let you represent your best self on Xbox Live."

Revamped avatars will be made available on Windows 10 this autumn, following "eventually" by an update for the Xbox One family of devices.

Microsoft promised earlier this year that Xbox users will have the option to access wheelchairs for their avatars, but it appears the firm has gone even further in its push for inclusivity.

It's an encouraging sign, one matched by Feminist Frequency's revelation that there were more multi-gender options in E3 games this year than ever before.

You can check out the trailer and interview here.

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James Batchelor avatar

James Batchelor


James Batchelor is Editor-in-Chief at GamesIndustry.biz. He is based in Essex and has been a B2B games journalist since 2006