Roblox avatars are about to get more expressive

Roblox avatars are about to get more expressive

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

The update is similar to Apple iPhone’s Bitmoji, which uses a depth sensor to measure and track head and facial movements. Previous avatars on Roblox had expressionsbut Bjorn Book-Larsson, VP of Product and Avatars at Roblox, described them as “two-dimensional.”

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The Roblox update would mean that users would be able to smile, wink or squeeze their forehead and their avatar would mimic them in real time. Eyes could scan, heads could shake, and eyebrows and ears could move with the same results. Soon, Roblox says, users will be able to chat directly with other avatars like in other multiplayer video games. In short, the changes could merge our real-world 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 to a tight circle of users and creators, which Book-Larsson says is intended to maintain “trust and security.” “We expect the unexpected,” he says. Part of that delay is so Roblox’s security team can ensure expressions are safely distributed across its huge demographic of small users. For example, says Book-Larsson, one facial expression option — sticking out the tongue — was scrapped because of possible abuse as a sexual overture.



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