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Dino Ignacio

Hello! My name is Dino Ignacio. I am a Senior Design Manager at Roblox, where I manage the Avatar and the Social design team. Before my time here, I was at Meta Reality Labs (2015-2021), where I worked as a Lead Designer and Product Design Manager on First Contact, Facebook Spaces, Horizon Worlds, and the Avatar product across the family of apps. Before all this, I was the UX Director at EA Visceral games (2007-2015), where I worked on many games, including the Dead Space and Battlefield franchises.


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UI Director
at EA Visceral  (2007-2015)

Design Lead / Manager
at Oculus (2015-2021)

Senior Design Manager
at Roblox (2021-now)

I have worked in some form of digital embodiment and character customization for over the last 15 years. This talk is an attempt to take many of the things I have learned working in this area into a set of guidelines we can all use as we build the future of Avatars.

Closing story

As told in the 2023 GDC Future Realities Summit.

This is a story about my kid, Harley. Over the pandemic. Harley got really into Avatar creation. They did this on Zepeto, Minecraft and Roblox.

When I started working at Roblox. Harley and I shared an iPad. I used it for work while they used it for play. Every so often they would forget to logout and I inadvertently got a glimpse at their ever changing avatars.

Sometimes they chose to be female presenting, sometimes they were male presenting, and sometimes they chose to be more neutral.

A year later when they eventually came our as Non-Binary at age 10 we all realized that their self-discovery was made possible in part by the fact that they were able to experiment with their identity in a safe way with Avatars. They have grown to become a very expressive, confident and compassionate human being. I posit they are all these things because they were given a safe place to discover themselves. This is why I believe Avatars are important. This is why I believe keeping Avatars safe, equitable, inclusive, and in the control of the individual user is important. Setting these guidelines now while the technology is in its infancy is important as it sets the stage for when Avatars are more ubiquitous, prevalent, and higher fidelity.

The good we do for avatars and the metaverse makes ethical sense, it makes business sense… but more importantly, it makes real-world sense. I believe that the good we do here for digital embodiment goes beyond pixels moving on screens. Allowing people to feel safe, confident, and in control in the metaverse also allows them to feel safe, confident, and in control in the real world.

And to be very clear, the goal here is to create guiding principles rather than hard fast rules. Developers will use these technologies in creative new ways, and our assumptions will evolve over time. These guidelines will evolve and adapt along with them but will always come from the same place of equity, agency, and clarity. 

Thank yous

I want to thank all the people who helped me compile these concepts.

Sarah Papazoglakis

Chad Taylor 

Bernard Yee

Sylvain Dubrofsky

Liz Gatapia

Padi Tang

Charlie Kubal

Aaron Sargay

Sean Palmer

Brandon Tran

John Stauffer

Ethan Stearns

Tim  Wong

Sarah Shen

Lauren Cheatham

Jonathan Wong

Stephen Jobe

Ross Bohner

Mike Mariano

Effie Goenawan 

Bjorn Book-Larsson

Rajiv  Bhatia

Garima  Sinha

Morgan Fritz

Alexander Weiss

Aaron Koressel

Bec Paton

Eric Kabisch

Kim Centeno 

Sam Spielman

Thomas Galang

Nina Ignacio

Harley Ignacio


Wootton, Christina. Bronstein, Manuel. Barry, Ben. Roblox x Parsons report on Gen Z Fashion Trends” Nov. 2022

US Government X Gender Marker on US Passports, Mar. 2021

Schultze, Ulrike. Leahy, Matthew. “The Avatar Self-Relationship: Enacting Presence in Second Life.”, 01 Jan.2009.

Bocca, Frank. Harms, Chad. Burgoon, Judee K. “Toward a More Robust Theory and Measure of Social Presence: Review and Suggested Criteria.”, 01 Oct.2003.

Dibell, Julian. “A Rape In Cyberspace”, 12 Dec.1993.

Yee, N. Ballenson, J. Ducheneaut, Nicolas.  “The Proteus Effect”, 22 Jan.2009.