XBL Indie Avatar Games to be sex, drugs, and gore-free

Microsoft's Xbox Live Community Games initiative enjoys a low profile buried within the Xbox 360's online dashboard, but the publisher made a bold move earlier this month to change that fact. In a bid to "increase understanding and discoverability" of user-created games, Microsoft banished the...

Microsoft's Xbox Live Community Games initiative enjoys a low profile buried within the Xbox 360's online dashboard, but the publisher made a bold move earlier this month to change that fact. In a bid to "increase understanding and discoverability" of user-created games, Microsoft banished the stifling--dare it be called corporate--moniker of Community Games, saying it would be rebranding the service with the more-inclusive Indie Games title.

The name change came as part of the new 3.1 revision to the XNA Game Studio tools, which are used to create Community Indie Games. As an undeniably positive change, the update also ushered in the ability to integrate the new Xbox Live Avatar system into user-created games. However, as anyone who has spent any time interacting with the Xbox Live community knows, there exist unsavory individuals who would undoubtedly use this new functionality for evil.

As such, the publisher has announced a number of strict rules for independent titles which feature Avatars in their in-game action. That action will likely be decidedly mild, as "acts of an aggressive or threatening manner" are verboten. "Cartoon violence" is permitted, as long as it is not of the Itchy and Scratchy variety: Dismemberment is out, as is decapitation, maiming, and/or mutilation.

Players looking to artificially enhance their Avatars', erm, proportions will find themselves short on options. Those who were hoping that the in-game personas could "excrete obscene bodily fluids or substances," too, are in for some measure of disappointment.

The rules will also create some existential conundrums: Avatars are able to "die," though death cannot be permanent. Continuing the dehumanization theme, Avatars can not be made to have "an autonomous personality or instinct." Speech is forbidden, though Avatars are allowed to laugh and cry.

Sexual, profane, and vulgar acts are not allowed, nor is "glorified criminality." Finally, to the disappointment of many on Xbox Live, their Avatar counterparts will not be able to "hold, be seen around or partake in any controlled substances or paraphernalia, including, but not limited to, alcohol, tobacco, and drugs."

An Indie Game containing Avatars must first pass muster via peer review before being added to the Xbox Live channel. A full list of prohibited activity is available on Microsoft's official XNA Creator's Club Web site. For a look at some fully sanctioned Avatar-game action, check out the below demonstration of A Kingdom for Keflings from On the Spot.

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Discussion

56 comments
iowastate
iowastate

sounds interesting - but is it a selling point? also am off to newgrounds again, I wish they allowed animated gifs on the signature avatars.

cockneyscouse
cockneyscouse

My dreams of an incontinent Ted Bundy avatar have just been shattered :(

BBFan414
BBFan414

I'm fine with the whole kid-friendly idea going on, just as long as the avatar games are free.

Glade_Gnarr
Glade_Gnarr

This miis... I mean avatars, suck anyway. I just chose one of the pre-made ones and was done with it.

shii666
shii666

Cool! Now Jack Thompson won't have a reason to get mad at them for making a fun game!

0Aragorn0
0Aragorn0

Well where's the fun in getting rid of all of that?? They probably could have made things easier and just told them "Just make your games like most wii games".

raahsnavj
raahsnavj

Avatars never were a selling point for anything serious anyhow. I'm on board with the restrictions seeming they are a kiddy thing at heart anyhow.

skullboy950
skullboy950

The thought of a mutilated avatar...hmm... Awesome! To Newgrounds I go!!

Rottenwood
Rottenwood

Huh, strange. I used to be in the indie scene (music, not games), and there was nothing BUT sex and drugs, more or less. This new feature seems wildly inaccurate.

lamprey263
lamprey263

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

bennae66
bennae66

hmmm now where did that sims 3 crack disappear to...

bennae66
bennae66

no bodily fluids? ahh man, now im not interested. so much for making my homebrew 'sexy beach 5' now with full avatar support! (tm) dammnit

mrklorox
mrklorox

You hear that? Bodily functions are bad! No sneezing in our games!

robfield
robfield

Seems fair. Microsoft has obviously used the avatars to appeal to casuals, I don't thin sex and violence fits that ideal. Besides, wouldn't MS have to provide the animations and models for mutilated avatars?

TheBionicRock
TheBionicRock

You know what this reminds me of? The Comics Code Authority. And I'll bet it will be as popular too.

CharlieFubar
CharlieFubar

lol but does that mean we cant make these games just for ourselves? (and friends)

prioritymail
prioritymail

Glad M-soft is nipping this one in the bud. We have already seen what happens when "sporn" is unleashed to the masses.

chris707
chris707

Well there goes avatar orgy parties. Just playin while im a fan of the MK/GTA types of content but everything ain't gotta have blood and guts, Blunts and Vodka or sex content. I think it's funny how some people react about stuff like this but it can be beneficial for MS, Maybe their can focus on creative titles for the avatars. Im lookin forward to the avatar racing game. But just to play devil's advocate if they did do some T, and M titles I would love to see them hook up with Matt Dickie. The avatars would be perfect for (The You Testament or Hardtime).

tonicmole
tonicmole

Avatars can be gay ,but only when that is defined as "lame" or "uncool".

Cricket_Sloat
Cricket_Sloat

I think we all need to look at this a different way, this is a new addition right? well then wouldnt it make more sense for the rules to be strict(ish) at the start and then maybe get a little less "restrictive" in time? that keeps the nodoubt ensueing flood of indie games clean. but also with some refinements to the they might try to appease those who want fighting in the games. just cut them some slack this isnt producing a game that been done a million times before this is putting responsibility on the gamer a fairly new (and scary) concept. so I say bring on the rules no game developement of this size goes without some tweaking be it the gameplay or the rules.

samissleman17
samissleman17

What kind of game can you make without fighting? I guess car racing and sports. This limits creativity cant you just put on an ESRB rating or something? Nothing wrong with a little profanity. I'm fine not having my Chuck norris give head to like a hillary clinton avatar but give some room for more mature ideas and less of that nintendo crap.

josiah4972
josiah4972

would be sweet to see my avatar get his head blown off, But ah well... cant win em all

seankane
seankane

Seems pretty reasonable to me.

another_drew
another_drew

I am honestly on board with MSoft's restrictions. Does every game we play have to include profanity, violence, drugs, or anything related? If so what does that say about our generation? To all those saying that restricting violence and substance use (in terms of alcohol) you are exactly the ones all those lame researchers look at when they want to put another ban on video games. Not to mention these restrictions will keep MSoft from liability when someone would undoubtedly get offended.

RedSoxfan67
RedSoxfan67

if u want sex and violence in an avatar gamme well, you have to be really messed up, wtf would be the reason you would wanna watch avatars have sex then and kill eachother, there is no point

allotheabove123
allotheabove123

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

awsss
awsss

I don't mind this... why the hell would anyone want to an M-rated avatar game? Seriously, avatars having sex?

BlueFlameBat
BlueFlameBat

Well that's just dumb. What the hell are parental controls for then? If MS doesn't want me chopping off an avatar's head, I guess I'll have to find some other service. I'd expect this kind of crap from Nintendo (unfortunately), but not MicroSoft. I am so disappointed. Psh! You can't even have the word gay in your gamertag even if it's not a slur!

DoomZaW
DoomZaW

No sex, drugs or violence? BOOOORRRRRIIIIIING!

nickythenewt21
nickythenewt21

Man, how else am I supposed to watch my Xbox Avatar porn?

Setsuka13
Setsuka13

I can live without extreme violence. Mild works for me. ^-^

athenian29
athenian29

Um, why can't we be human and have personalities? Is Microsoft saying that the people who use their consoles aren't actually people? 'Cuz much as I'd love to laugh 'til my sides split, that's just mean.

Absolutezerr
Absolutezerr

So are we allowed some Tom and Jerry style "cartoon violence?" hell, even stuff in spongebob can be brutal these days. Kids' cartoons just aren't bloody is all, not like the simpsons and family guy and adult swim shows and stuff. I was hoping for an avatar fighting game, tekken-style, but I guess that day will never come.

master_hookshot
master_hookshot

Ah man... no maiming or mutilation?!? Nah, its alright, my Xbox360 hasn't been turned on since about a month after CoD: 5. Sigh...

jhermannitj
jhermannitj

...and the tobacco, drugs, alcohol restriction; I think most will be alright with that (though they already have a community indie app called Cocktail Paradise which has drinking games that if followed - in respect to the directions - would result in alcohol poisoning or death). Violence restrictions... that's lame, restricting avatar emotions and actions is also a fail in my opinion. If you want to make the system better streamline it. As I said a less ambiguous ratings system would be great and get rid of seriously worthless titles like "Clock 360" and "Calculator 360" to name a couple. Integrate the ratings system with the dashboard parental control functions; parents shouldn't have to worry what there 12yr old daughter is doing with three indie massage apps and alarming suspect friends list. What people want: Avatar blood, vulgar avatars, dead avatars - not that it would somehow erase your dashboard avatar, but what is wrong permanent death; really there is no such thing when you can start a new game. I want to see angry avatars and avatars losing heads and limbs ( it would be hilarious). As a final note... you're calling it "indie games"... let the creators truly be independent in their ideas.

jhermannitj
jhermannitj

I'm not saying have no restrictions, but how about.... instead of limiting people's creativity - empowering it. The way you could do this is by adding a more comprehensive ratings system like the ESRB or something similar. Bodily excretions... I think the majority of gamers could do without that.

godzillavskong
godzillavskong

Just leave it open and send a warning to someone who displays any unsavory profiles. If they don't take it down or correct it, then ban them.It's just that simple.

masterfarticus
masterfarticus

Sooo, does that mean no avatar on avatar action? Damn. How will I ever go on?!?!?!?!?

Jedilink109
Jedilink109

So it sounds like you can make party games then. Doesn't sound like you can make your avatars engage in too much action as it wouldn't be kosher apparently. Sounds kinda lame. What if someone wants to make an action game?

enix165
enix165

So...avatars can walk, laugh, cry and...that's about it? D= Well that's no fun...then again, I didn't have much interest in Indie Games after that Torino X game I wasted $2.50 on(And that's pretty bad, for $2.50 Pong should be pretty good...XD)...

bgres077
bgres077

Bahahahaha! Ba ha. ha. ? Who cares.

atopp399
atopp399

I await the first game that has a main theme of killing kids or school shootings or something like that. I suppose if it has to be reviewed maybe we will not see these types of games but I am sure people will try.

Merl57
Merl57

wow sounds like fun for adults.... oh well