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article imageYou'll soon be able to have a wheelchair in your Xbox avatar

By James Walker     Jul 5, 2016 in Entertainment
Microsoft has revealed it is working on an option for Xbox Avatars that will allow wheelchair users to include a wheelchair in their avatar. Xbox Avatars are animated 3D characters that represent players. Microsoft is working on a larger Avatar expansion.
To cater to wheelchair users who use its platform, Microsoft is working on an update to its Xbox Avatars visual identity system that will allow you to include a wheelchair in your Avatar. While details on how the wheelchairs will work remain light, Microsoft has released a couple of images showing off some available animations and accessories.
Xbox Avatars were an important and popular component of the Xbox 360. The animated characters can be extensively customised by players, letting you adjust facial features, hair styles, clothing and accessories with a variety of different options. The result is a unique and highly personalised Xbox Live identity.
When the Xbox One launched, Microsoft all but eradicated Avatars. In response to fan feedback, the company reintroduced them with the New Xbox One Experience update last November, making them an important part of Xbox once again. Microsoft is working to improve Avatars and rebuild them with updated visuals and details, creating a more modern look in keeping with its wider plans for Xbox as a whole.
Yesterday, Twitter user and Xbox co-creator Seamus Blackley tweeted to Phil Spencer, Microsoft's head of Xbox. Blackley suggested Microsoft add wheelchair support to Avatars. Other users suggested he create a petition to gauge community interest and pressure Microsoft to make Xbox more accessible.
As it turns out, no petition is required. Spencer soon replied very positively, revealing that the Xbox team is already at work building wheelchair avatars and the result is "not far off."
"No petition needed, we hear you. This is something that we've already looked at, not far off," said Spencer.
Mike Ybarra, Director of Program Management at Xbox, later chimed in, offering a "sneak peek" at wheelchairs in action. In a pair of images, Ybarra confirmed that the Xbox team is already building wheelchairs, complete with flying Xbox flags.
The images also provide a glimpse into Microsoft's ongoing work to improve Avatar fidelity. The details appear to be a noticeable step up from the quality of current Avatar models, indicating the company is fulfilling its aim of creating better-looking visuals.
Avatars were first introduced on Xbox 360 in 2008. The feature became popular due to the raft of customisation options available, including licensed material from gaming and non-gaming brands and additional paid content that Xbox Live members can unlock. There's no timeline for the Avatar update yet, although it could still launch with this summer's Windows 10 Anniversary Update for the Xbox One.
More about Microsoft, Xbox, xbox avatars, Wheelchairs, Accessibility
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