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As avatars evolve to become more accurate digital representations of ourselves, there is a need to create guidelines and best practices on how we create and operate them. These guidelines are meant to be the start of the conversation (for developers, ethicists, designers, and platform operators) as our understanding and perception of embodiment evolve over time. These guidelines will always be rooted in the more persistent underlying principles.

The guidelines


Video from Pacific Rim | Legendary Entertainment

The avatar cannot be used, embodied, or operated by others without the consent of the owner. Avatars should only do things intended by the user. This can be done using sensors, controls, triggers or embodiment in VR. Autonomic or superfluous actions like breathing, subtle idles and reactions to physics simulation are exempt from this guideline.
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Video from Star Wars | Lucasfilm Ltd., Walt Disney Company

When playing back an Avatar message or when the user is AFK (away from controls), it should be clearly indicated that the Avatar’s owner is not currently operating it.

Other users should not be able to affect an asynchronous Avatar. (See guideline 1.)

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Video from the Matrix | Warner Bros. Pictures

The user must always be made aware when a device is being used to track and record their IRL actions and movements to drive their Avatar.

A user should never be required to use sensitive sensors (camera, mic, etc.) and should never be surprised that their camera/mic/capture device is enabled.

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Video from Black or White | Epic Records

It is important that we do not impose a specific gender or race when a user creates their digital representation. We need to make sure the Avatar creation process is inclusive and open to diversity.

We should present more choices beyond the binary.

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Changing Faces Rainbow Love GIF By Barbara Pozzi

A user must be able to build something that represents their genetic self without being charged more for being from a minority group.
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