360 Avatar rules revealed: No sex, booze

Avatar development rules given to XNA Creators Club

The development rules behind using Xbox 360 Avatars in games have emerged, via Microsoft's XNA Creators Club website.

The guidelines give some interesting insight into the hurdles developers face when sticking our little Xbox people in their games. These include making sure Avatars don't talk, glamorise crime, be seen near of around alcohol and "no sexual or bodily fluids" come from the Avatar. Right...

According to Microsoft, every Xbox Live Indie Game that uses Avatars must be reviewed to make sure that the game "doesn't let the Avatar commit the following acts, have the act occur to them, or is a spectator to them".

Here they are (in Microsoft's words):

Player interacts with their avatar as if it's a separate character
A player's avatar does not 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 it should not interact with the user as if it is separate from the player, try to get the player's attention in an annoying manner.

Violence which causes blood, gore, dismemberment, decapitation, maiming, or mutilation
Cartoon violence is allowed. Violence is allowed as long as there is 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.

Player's avatar talks
The player's avatar should not have their own voice. They are allowed to make individual sounds, such as laughing and crying but otherwise cannot use a voice.

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Acts of sexual innuendo or mildly explicit sexual descriptions or images or sexual posturing
Sexual acts or terminology cannot be insinuated or enacted.

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 are presented unfavourably.

Acts of an aggressive or threatening manner
Gratuitous insults, bullying, intimidation or otherwise violent or emotional abuse of a position of power are not allowed. Avatars may leave innocents or bystanders slightly injured, but not dead.

Vulgar or profane act
Game-controlled avatars cannot use profane, racist, or discriminatory language, nor can they make obscene gestures.

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

Replace Avatar features
The features of an avatar cannot be hidden or in obscured and cannot be replaced with alternative items. Items such as, but not limited to, masks, hats and alternative clothing, are not allowed.

Avatars proportions are not modified
The proportions of an Avatar cannot be modified form their original settings. An Avatar can be resized as long as the proportions don't change.