September 24, 2022

Roblox’s avatars are about to get more expressive

Roblox’s avatars are about to get more expressive

Roblox, an online gaming platform where people can either play or create games, has 52.2 million daily users. The company’s initial demographic was underage, but in recent years it has become a popular destination for teenagers and young adults, and more than half of its users are now over the age of 13. The rich, diverse virtual worlds available on the site was created, was considered a precursor to what we might see and experience in the metaverse, with opportunities for connection with other people and personalized avatars that players could use across games.

The update is similar to the Apple iPhone’s Bitmoji, which uses depth perception to measure and track head and face movements. Previous avatars on Roblox had expressions, but Bjorn Book-Larsson, vice president of product and avatars at Roblox, described them as “two-dimensional.”

roblox character in self view


The Roblox update would mean users could smile, wink or scratch their forehead, and their avatar would mimic them in real time. Eyes can scan, heads can shake, and eyebrows and ears can wiggle with the same results. And soon, Roblox says, users will be able to talk directly to other avatars like in other multiplayer video games. In short, the changes could mix our real human experience with that of the metaverse and make avatars more like ourselves – for better or worse.

Until early 2023, these updates will be kept within a tight circle of users and creators, which Book-Larsson says is meant to “maintain trust and security.” “We expect the unexpected,” he says. Part of that delay is so Roblox’s security team can make sure expressions are deployed safely within its large demographic of underage users. For example, says Book-Larsson, one option for a facial expression — sticking out your tongue — was scrapped because of its potential misuse as a sexual overture.

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