News came out a couple weeks ago that Microsoft was trying to get in on the fat shaming video game business than Nintendo has occupied with WiiFit. They recently filed a patent for a system to allow avatars to reflect real-world health data about the gamer.
Its not really clear what they want to do with it just yet. The patent talks about gathering other third-party data as well to help gamers connect with similar individuals. In the case of fatties, you can bet that means dieters. The numbers game sadly would suggest little else. The big attention is the way their system would mimic WiiFit's mechanism of making a person's Mii gain weight to reflect their actual weight. If you are fat, so is your avatar.
Now, I am fat and so is my avatar. At least, as fat as it'd let me make it. That kind of puzzles me about these sorts of systems. They are trading off the real world disgust with fat people but most video game character creators already reflect this by prohibiting creations that are undesirably fat. My XBox Avatar is at least a fairly round, but this is as big as it gets. In the scheme of things, there are plenty of fat people bigger than me. Are they going to adjust the system to allow those people to be reflected?
I've been meaning to write a post about virtual representations of fat. Its interesting to me how often our bodies are shut out of virtual spaces just as we are real ones. My XBox Avatar can be maybe 250lbs, but don't ask it to be 300. Mii's can be round, but only so far. (and the WiiFit balance board is NOT rated for many fat people). Sims 3 has suddenly embraced fat Sims after previously allowing barely there bellies. Still, its something and impacts both genders.
A lot of games reflect gender inequality in their virtual creations. Wrestling games have been radically reducing the opportunities for fat characters in the last decade, but most severely for women. Guitar Hero: World Tour allows a stocky male character but the female equivalent is considerably slimmer. Rock Band is curious to me in that its almost the opposite. While no really fat people appear in the game, the highest weight female character seems more recognizably fat to me than with males.
I'll try to review at least some fat character creations in video games in an upcoming post. Its sad, though not entirely surprising, that often the times our bodies are deemed appropriate for virtual representation is for the purpose of shaming us and not actually representing us.
at 6:53 PM