Saturday, December 19, 2009

Gaming the System

A few months ago Microsoft announced that they were going to make it even easier for advertisers to advertise on the XBOX Dashboard by upgrading the dash's Silverlight functionality. I was concerned that we would soon be subjected to flying doritos chips when we booted up our machines. I was only half right, Its not delivery unfortunately.

Something a bit more interesting than ads for edible cardboard are the addition of minigames to our Dashboards. There have been a few so far. At the moment you can throw snowballs at your friends avatars, and a few months ago you could throw footballs at your friends avatars.

There was a dunktank on the dashboard over the summer where you could choose which friend you wanted to dunk. All of these Dashboard minigames are whack-a-mole clones as far as I'm concerned and are barely a glimpse of what is to come. Streaming AAA games through the dashboard is probably a bit far off into the distance though.

Now for comparison, lets take a look at a few of the Avatar enabled games available through the Xbox Indie Games Channel.

This is a picture from Avatar Avenue. A game which lets you watch Avatars walk around.

The next two are from Home Run Challenge The title is a good description. Interestingly it appears that Developers of Xbox indie games have access to the entire library of avatar models. Shown below is a shot of the pitcher as a character from Assassin's Creed.

And here we have some shots from Rate My Avatar. For the low price of 80 points you can watch a parade of avatars across your screen and rate them!! Creating and rating Mii's was one of my favorite activities on the Nintendo Wii. A free feature of the Wii by the way. Of course, Mii's are capable of far more customization than Xbox Avatars. There are a number of sites that instruct you on how to create a Mii look alike. Barack Obama Mii


And finally a shot from Avatar Golf .

These indie avatar games are slightly more complex than the Dashboard games we are currently offered by Microsoft, but I don't believe there is any technical reason why they could not be featured there as instantly playable games. In fact I believe they should be. You might be saying, "Why should Microsoft create and give these games away for free when there is revenue to be made?"

Listen up, the indie created Avatar rating game suffers from a lack of a userbase. The developer has said they are coming close to 1000 games sold which is impressive but not nearly enough. I hope they sell thousands more though. This would undoubtedly spur Microsoft into developing a more robust version able to be launched instantly through the dashboard and featuring millions of user created Avatars. I don't have to tell you that this would push sales of Avatar clothing into the stratosphere. I would be surprised if someone hasn't patented a system for the display and rating of user created digital representations of themselves.

Update: lol Avatar Patent!

That's all for now,  I need to do some work on my other project

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