Xbox LIVE Indie Games

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Avatar Usage Guidelines

Submitted
6/11/2009
Article

Updated March 29th, 2010

Xbox LIVE avatars are unique and personal items that you can make available to players. To prevent abuse, there's a very clear set of rules for avatar use. Any Xbox LIVE Indie Game that contains avatars must be peer reviewed to confirm that the game doesn't 1) let the avatar commit the acts listed below, 2) allow the same acts occur to the avatar, or 3) be a spectator to the acts:

    Player interacts with their avatar as if it's a separate character

    A player’s avatar doesn't have an autonomous personality or instinct. The avatar is under the control of the owning player. It can have idle animations and can respond appropriately to game events, but shouldn't interact with the user as if it's separate from the player, such as by trying to get the player’s attention in an annoying manner. A cut scene is allowed, as well as replay, as long as the action makes sense within the gameplay.

    An exception is made for relevant titles (sports, cohort adventure games, etc.). It's permitted for a game to allow a user to temporarily switch control from their primary avatar to a computer-controlled avatar-teammate.

    Violence that causes blood, gore, dismemberment, decapitation, maiming, or mutilation

    Cartoon violence is allowed as long as there's no blood, gore, dismemberment, decapitation, maiming, or mutilation. An example of allowable injuries includes injuries that might befall an avatar in a sporting event such as American football. Avatars can die temporarily to depict failure.

    Acts of sexual innuendo or mildly explicit sexual descriptions or images or sexual posturing

    Sexual acts or terminology can't be insinuated or enacted.

    Player’s avatar talks

    The player’s avatar shouldn't have its own voice. Avatars are allowed to make sounds such as laughing and crying, but otherwise can't use a voice.

    Excretes obscene bodily fluids or substances

    No sexual or bodily fluids or substances can come from the avatar.

    Glamorized criminal act

    Criminal activities need to be relevant to the story and must be presented unfavorably.

    Acts of an aggressive or threatening manner

    Gratuitous insults, bullying, intimidation, or other violent or emotional abuse of a position of power, aren't allowed. Avatars may leave innocents or bystanders slightly injured, but not dead.

    Vulgar or profane act

    Game-controlled avatars can't use profane, racist, or discriminatory language, or make obscene gestures.

    Use of controlled substances

    An avatar may not hold, be seen around, or partake in any controlled substances or use any paraphernalia, including, but not limited to, alcohol, tobacco, and drugs.

    Replace avatar features

    The features of an avatar can't be hidden or obscured, and can't be replaced with alternative items. Items such as, but not limited to, masks, hats, and alternative clothing, aren't allowed. In addition, no Non-Player Characters (NPC’s) can wear any avatar items, including copyrighted, trademarked, or royalty-based clothing. Helmets are permitted as part of a uniform or as long as they makes sense within the gameplay. Halloween costumes are also permitted. Headwear that covers an avatar's face is allowed when either: 1) in the context of the game, it's known that there is a human form under the costume, or 2) in cases where the characters aren't human, the item has been modified to show the avatar underneath (e.g., the avatar's eyes are visible). Items must not block or inhibit motion/movement of avatars.

    Avatar's proportions are modified

    The proportions of an avatar can't be modified from their original settings. An avatar can be resized without changing its proportions.

As with the existing Peer Review Prohibited Content, specific situations will come down to the best judgement of the developer and/or reviewer. Specific questions about playtest and peer review should be raised in the forums.

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