Rolling Without Limits

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Xbox Introduces Avatars Who Use Wheelchairs
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Xbox Introduces Avatars Who Use Wheelchairs

Accessibility is not (and shouldn’t be) limited to the real world. If you are an Xbox game addict and are differently abled than others, then you may have found your game avatars not adaptable to your real identity. Well, you along with others with similar challenges are in for a treat. Soon, Xbox fanatics will be able to replicate their real identity in the virtual world with wheelchair avatars.

The news about the new addition was announced by Phil Spencer in response to several tweeters who inquired about the possibility of creating a petition to add wheelchair avatars to enhance their gaming experience.  The head of Microsoft Xbox’s division interrupted the conversation and commented that there is no need for a petition. He further added that the company is already working on the matter and the wheelchair avatar option will soon be available for all Xbox users.

Following Phil Spencer statement, the head of Windows and Xbox program management Mike Ybarra also gave a sneak peak of the new avatar to the twitter users. The new avatars – both male and female are sitting on wheelchairs and sport a flag with the well-known Xbox logo. From the preview, it can be seen that the new avatars will be more detailed and bear more resemblance to humans than the existing ones.

Of course, the move made by Microsoft is highly appreciated by the differently abled game players since more than 2.2 million Americans use a wheelchair to assist them for mobility. However, some Xbox players were reported to complain about the visual appearances of the wheelchair avatars. They deemed the wheelchair as old fashioned looking and compared it to the wheelchairs that are found in most hospitals. Some Xbox fans also posted pictures of themselves in wheelchairs to show the company what modern unit looked like. Representatives from Microsoft were, however, unreachable for comments.

The company has refused to disclose the launch date of the new avatars but it is highly anticipated that we will soon witness the updates in the major Xbox one and PC update “Anniversary” which is all set to release in August of 2016. Just like Microsoft, other players of the industry are working towards making their products more inclusive for the general public. Facebook recently added a skin tone feature with their messenger emoticons where the users were given the option to choose from various skin toned emojis. Similarly, Yahoo and Second life have also offered wheelchair avatars to their users since the beginning of their history.

Despite being a popular part of the Xbox gaming experience, the avatars were re-introduced to the game with the Xbox One Experience UI update. With the news of the new avatar soon coming, we along with others with special needs are awaiting the refresher to hit our game consoles. Stay tuned for more updates!

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