You can debate whether it says more about me or the Xbox 360, but my New Xbox Experience is very… male.
Since the NXE transformed most of the Xbox 360 dashboards in the U.S. this week, I’ve witnessed a stark reminder that almost everyone my 360 is connected to is a guy. Or at least they play one as an Avatar.
I have 59 friends on my Xbox 360 friend’s list, 50 of whom have made Avatars. All but two of them have made male Avatars. When I flick through the NXE’s line-up of my friends’ Avatars, it seems like I’m looking at the line for the men’s room.
Microsoft’s creation of the Avatars has been seen as an attempt to emulate the approachability of the Wii brand and Nintendo’s Miis. But the gender balance of my friends’ Avatars and my friends’ Miis are as different as Microsoft and Nintendo’s apparent success at courting more than guy gamers.
Take a look at this:
This is a row of more of my 360 friends’ Avatars:
And this, below, is my Mii Plaza.
Which of these clusters of user-created people appears to be crafted by a more gender-mixed group?
I know I’m comparing apples to pears. Avatars and Miis don’t represent the same things. Each Avatar represents one gamer. Each Mii represents anything from a character a player made for themselves — like my Mii standing next to the Peanuts’ Lucy — to a character someone made for fun. Case in point: Condoleezza Rice didn’t make that Mii of her in my plaza.
And, yes, I know that the gender of an Avatar/Mii doesn’t indicate the gender of the person who made it — despite anecdotal evidence that 360 users are matching their Avatar’s gender to their own.
There may be differences, but I don’t think the comparison is unfair. In emulating a design idea that is so closely identified with Nintendo’s age-spanning, gender-spanning Wii, Microsoft has provided us a new tool to measure how mixed — or not — their player-base is.
Or do I just need more female friends?