Video games have a representation problem. Last month at the biggest show in the video game industry (E3), just 3% of the featured games had exclusively female protagonists, while 41% had exclusively male protagonists.
The problem extends to race and sexuality as well, with most mainstream game heroes skewing heavily towards white and straight. Players with disabilities are especially under looked, mostly seeing representation in side characters at best.
Thanks to Xbox, that’s about to change just a tiny bit.
In a tweet on Sunday, Xbox head Phil Spencer more or less confirmed that wheelchair options are coming to Xbox Live Avatars at some point in the near future. Avatars are customisable characters attached to each Xbox Live account, and users can purchase clothing and accessories for their Avatars in an online store.
There’s no word on when this feature will hit or how exactly it will be implemented. We don’t know if there will just be one wheelchair to choose from, or if the wheelchairs can be customized with virtual goods like users can already do with their Avatars.
This isn’t the first time a major video game company has acknowledged its disabled fans this year. “Uncharted 4” featured accessibility options so players who have a hard time rapidly tapping buttons due could finish the game, a feature that was well-received.
These are extremely small steps forward for increased accommodation of disabled players. Since Avatars rarely show up when you aren’t shopping for accessories in the Avatar Store, plenty of users have probably forgotten they have one entirely. Unfortunately, you’re unlikely to see your new wheelchair-bound Avatar in many games.
Still, taking steps forward is better than standing still. Hopefully the folks at Xbox continue to listen to their fans and add even more options for disabled players in the future.