The prize for innovation in avatar interopability goes to ….

Codemasters Colin McRae Dirt 2 on the Xbox 360
I was taking a look at the latest incarnation of off road console gaming. Codemasters Colin McRae Dirt 2 on the Xbox 360. The previous Dirt game was brilliant and it looks like this is going the right way too. The demo is even packaged with voice overs from Ken Block and Travis Pastrana indicating it is a demo (i.e. not just a disabled functions as with most demos).
Having had a blast around an excellent simulation of a Baja track and then an even more impressive and stunning rally stage set in Morroco I was thinking about how this mirror world, and the purity of the experience as a simulation blended with fun and some interesting game related features (such as rewind when you total the car) would not be one to have any quirky avatar or non car related expressions of personality in it. I often use Forza 2 (soon Forza 3)(as here in 2007) as an example of how expression and customization of things like cars are done in context and that interoperability is a social and branding activity more so than a technical challenge to move data from one environment to another. “We don’t want our avatar from X, wandering around in Y as it will break the atmosphere”, “yes but we can”.
I happened to pop into the demo customization options and selected something that said avatar as a cockpit customization. I was amazed, amused and impressed when on the replay of the hectic drive I saw this.
Dirt 2 - Embedded Avatar
My personalized xbox avatar dangling from the mirror, swinging around with ragdoll physics in car. It s such a subtle little idea, yet I was surprised. There in this real yet fun off road driving simulation, where mentally I was the driver of the car in overalls and helmet, hurtling and sliding through the desert, I was able to reference back to a little bit of my more global system wide visual persona. My predalike dreadlocked avatar with his new virtual t-shirt.
It did not break the spell, it fitted. The avatar was embedded in world yet not interfering with it. Well done to the Codies !

Whilst this feature was on the 360 I am sure there are equally interesting features on all the other versions it is out mid September (which whilst i am on the subject all the games that get release pre-xmas are always in mid September which make it mighty annoying when the predlets want to by me a birthday present for the end of August!
Colin McRae: Dirt 2 (Xbox 360)
Colin McRae: Dirt 2 (PS3)
Colin McRae: Dirt 2 (PC DVD)
Colin McRae: Dirt 2 (Wii)
Colin McRae: Dirt 2 (PSP)

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