If we've learned one thing from the current generation of home consoles (and Nintendo's newest handheld the 3DS) it's that people love avatars. Of course, gaming avatars themselves are nothing new, but having a persistent online profile associated with your console of choice and a decked-out avatar to go along with it has really been one of those sleeper hit features in gaming these past several years.
As Joystiq notes, the folks over at AppleInsider have gone digging around and discovered some patent filings that hint that Apple may also be interested in jumping into the avatar game for their own Game Center service. This thought has certainly been tossed around plenty of times between our staff and people in our forums, but seeing concrete evidence that it's actually a blip on Apple's radar is pretty cool, even if it's something that never ends up materializing.
The patent filings go on to detail how players could create their own personalized avatars by adjusting features and characteristics using the unique capabilities of the touch screen, and of course adorning them with items and accessories. What's the point of an avatar if it doesn't have a fancy hat, right? There is also mention of making these avatars available to developers for inclusion into games and apps. It doesn't sound too different than what's already been going on in the console space for years, but still sounds pretty cool nonetheless.
These patents were filed back in April, and there's really no telling when or if something like this will ever actually be included into the iOS feature set. But it's sure a neat prospect, and I'll be keeping my fingers crossed that we see it on our devices sometime in the future.