Xbox 360 Avatar Experiment with Xeni Jardin and Barack Obama

31 03 2009

Thanks to everyone who saw my portrait work on-set with Boing Boing TV during the 2009 Game Developer’s Conference.  As requested, I’ve posted videos of some of the pieces.

The videos document an ongoing conceptual portraiture experiment using video games available on the Xbox 360.  There was no use of hacking, programing, or other methods beyond the options provided within each game used to make each piece.  The limitations of each game create a challenge when trying to make a compelling portrait, and our virtual identities are distinctively shaped by these limitations.

Games include Tiger Woods PGA Tour ’08, Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six VEGAS, FaceBeaker, Fallout 3, World Series of Poker, Saints Row and more.

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Ron Jeremy – The Avatar Builder Tool Experiment (part 1)

9 09 2008

”Digg”

”RSS”


Our Model Our Model

There are so many options for crafting avatars that Mediasapien decided to kick the tires and road test some of them.  Using a decidedly unscientific protocol, each will be put to the test using a single person as the model.  Since many of these apps are geared towards kids and tweens, there are plenty of options for making slender, emo-ish, Jonas Brothers and Miley inspired avi’s.   So in order to make the test challenging, we’ll pick a person who is generally familiar looking but definitely not a typical user of avatar-based games and entertainment – someone older, rounder, less willowy.  Naturally I’m talking about the Hedgehog himself, Ron Jeremy.   Ron is a beautiful Adonis of a man, with an amorous appetite to match.  The years may have tried their best to curse him, but he defies the ravages of time – mostly.  His hairline may be receding a bit and his ‘stashe peppered with grey, his belly may be a few inches larger than in his glory days, but he still retains all the charm and charisma for which he is known – his 9 3/4” dick (unverified).  

So RJ is the perfect model for our test.  Some of the apps will handle the Hedgehog with ease, while many others simply don’t offer wide enough options.  Few if any will include his “charm”.  Here are some of my results:

Ron JereMii

Ron JereMii

 

Nintendo Mii

Technically I used an online flash game that reproduces the Mii-building experience almost exactly, so the results are the same.  The deceptively simple tool palette masks an outrageously deep creation tool, capable of reproducing almost any face, from RJ to Obama to Darth Vader.  It can even be used to make illustrations and abstract graphics, turning Mii’s into walking postmodern artworks.  Dozens of these celebrity and character Mii’s are available for download via the Mii channel on the Wii.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RJ visits Springfield

Simpsons

The Simpsons online avi maker uses a fairly extensive palette of facial features, body parts and props, all of which are instantly recognizable from the long running series.  You can choose Milhouse’s glasses and Sideshow Mel’s bone-in hairdo among the hundreds of choices.  One aspect of this app is the distinct  Simpson’s visual style, which makes avi’s that are more about ‘type’ than specific individuals.  All of RJ’s ingredients are present, but if you didn’t know it was the Hedgehog, you might never guess.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

South Park

Like the Simpsons app, the South Park online avatar maker offers a wide range of body parts and features that are instantly familiar to viewers of the show.  Like the Simpsons app, this one is also highly stylized.  The resulting avatar is funny, if not immediately recognizable.

 

 

 

 

 

Meez, WeeWorld, etc..,

There are so many avatar-centric websites and social spaces for the kiddies that I’m limiting myself to just a few of them for this experiment.  The tools provided are so simple that frequently RJ is reduced to a skinny-looking kid with a fake mustache.  One or two of these may be slightly amusing but ultimately these apps are too limited to offer much playability.

 

If RJ was Picasso...

If RJ was Picasso...

 

 

Mr. Picasso Head

This was definitely one of the most fun Flash games that mediasapien came across while researching this story.  Using only elements found within Picasso’s actual artworks, a surprisingly wide range of people can be created.   The added bonus of adding any signature in the artist’s hand is a nice touch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mediasapien came across a few oddities during this exhaustive search…  Talk about odd vanity brands… How about RJ Mobile?  A short-lived start up that sold cellular service, ringtones, video clips and games all branded with a cute, ironically harmless looking Ron Jeremy avatar.  Nothing says quality cell service like a washed-up porn star with a mobile phone shoved in his thong.

Would you buy Cel services from this man?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the current election season, the following image seems like an obvious call to action.  Could it be time for a write-in vote campaign for the next president?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And finally…   Apparently the best example of a Ron Jeremy avatar has been right under our noses for nearly 25 years, first appearing way back in 1983.  Known to just about every gamer ever, he is more commonly referred to as “Mario” and may very well represent the earliest example of a famous person or celebrity to be enshrined in the glow of game pixels.  Ron Jeremy – The original Mediasapien!

The results of this test are a mixed bag, but it’s far from finished.  There will be plenty more to come, including Ron Jeremys built in Second Life, Tiger Woods, and more.  And if you have any RJ Avi’s that you want to show off, send mediasapien a link and we’ll post it.

[Part 2 is HERE]