Are you too fat to game? Microsoft might think so.
In a move that might have gamers everywhere flocking to PS3s, Microsoft just took out a patent application for the Avatar Individualized by Physical Characteristic program. The Avatar Individualized by Physical Characteristic program would “generate fat avatars in gaming environments for individuals whose health records indicate they’re overweight”.
Public shame and mockery might be bad enough, but Microsoft further proposes to allow the overweight or underweight avatars to have their game play limited or possibly even banned outright unless the gamer were willing to “exercise for a period of time until his health indicator gadget shows a sufficiently high health credit in order to allow reentering the avatar environment”. These measures are designed to “produce healthy and virtuous behaviors in individuals”.
I can’t imagine they’re serious about this. Surely a reasonably attentive lawyer in the company is saying that this is lawsuit bait. Granted, no one needs to game, and I’m sure there’s some teeny-tiny print somewhere in some agreement that says that Microsoft reserves the right to refuse service to anyone, but the press alone would be astonishingly bad, the idea of Microsoft checking health records to play is so odious it’d make Orwell do a half-gainer in his grave (not to mention possibly illegal in itself under HIPAA regulations), and it’d be like handing Sony a loaded gun to make advertising like:
“Hey fat kids! Banned from Xbox Live? The Playstation Network won’t make fun of you! Come play here instead!”