June 4, 2020
June 4, 2020
Roblox isn't a game as much as it is an experience. Roblox serves as a platform for countless user-created games and an entire online ecosystem of chat, helping the world stay connected.
In many ways, Roblox is the "Lego" of video games. With blocky, cartoonish graphics, unlimited customization, and a big social ecosystem to play around it, Roblox became the hot thing to do during the COVID pandemic for American kids. In 2020, over half of Americans under 16 played Roblox. COVID caused disruptions to school, activities, and childcare, creating a void in children's social lives that Roblox helped to fill.
Unlike the actual Lego video games, Roblox isn't much of a game on its own. Instead, it's a set of tools that enables you to create and distribute your own video games. Roblox game creators use Lua, a scripting language that's very simple. This means that in addition to playing Roblox, you can use it as a tool to learn programming and game design and explore your creative side. Not only can you share your creations with your friends, you can also leverage the in-game currency system so that you can get paid if your games make it big.
Because it's infinitely customizable, Roblox games can look like anything. Many popular online games involve multiplayer role-playing scenarios, like "cops and robbers," while others are simple platformers, rhythm games, or battle royales. The games within Roblox aren't always bug-free, beautiful, or complicated, but the fact that anyone can make a game means that there's always another game to try after this one.
Most Roblox games are made by kids. The platform is an incredible way to introduce concepts in programming, math, project management, storytelling, visual design, writing, and working as a team. While it's a great way for kids to learn and connect, it's also a way for kids to share ideas with each other without adult moderation. Be sure you trust the kids your children hang out with on Roblox and be wary that they might try to push boundaries with the games that they create and play within the platform.
Roblox makes money by selling accessories like hats, gear, body parts, and packages. These accessories are purchased using an in-game currency called Robux, which is in turn purchased for real money. These items can be traded in-game. Anyone with a premium membership can create and sell clothes, while only special trusted people can create and sell the other accessories. Some of the game's most popular creators actually earn a living selling items in-game, with annual earnings of $100,000 or more.
In addition to being a platform for games, Roblox also serves as a sort of community hub for young people. Kids watch other kids (and content creators) play Roblox, spend time online with their friends, and talk about the game outside of their play sessions. Having the common interest of playing Roblox is a great way for kids (and teens and adults) to make friends.
Because Roblox is a platform, not a game, it's impossible to describe how to play it. The popular games change from week to week, and while many games are rehashings of familiar concepts, many bring unique twists or are entirely original. Remember, most of these games are made by kids. You'll frequently run into "Calvinball"-esque situations where it's clear that the rules don't make a lot of sense.
Rather than focusing on gameplay, it's worth spending a bit of time talking about what precautions you might take as a parent or guardian if your child is interested in Roblox. Roblox isn't just a game for kids. The infinite customizability and social environment make it a popular meeting place for teens, while adults might use it as a learning tool or as a way to spend time with their children. In order to keep younger players safe, there are a number of options for restricting chat. These options aren't perfect, but they're a great way of taking the first step to controlling who can chat with your child easily.
While Roblox staff works hard to make Roblox safe for kids on the surface, it's a public environment that holds some content that you might not want your child exposed to. Clever content creators (including other kids) are constantly finding ways to evade automatic filters, forcing the makers of Roblox to hire lots of real people to browse user-created content and make sure it's safe. The best way to keep your kids safe on Roblox is to play it with them, talk to them about how they spend their time, and have discussions about what kinds of content isn't okay. If you check in regularly, you'll be able to keep your kids out of dodgy social groups that flock to games that sneak past the filters.
Roblox uses an in-game currency called Robux that's purchased with real-life money. On one hand, Robux enables you to reward the creators of your favorite games with actual cash, incentivizing the creation of high-quality games on the platform. On the other hand, the existence of Robux means that you'll hear about scammers, shady games designed to take money, and kids who don't realize that their Roblox account is hooked up to a real-life credit card. Just like with questionable content, the best way to mitigate these risks for your kids is to play the game with them, teach them what's okay, and talk to them about their experiences in-game. It's also not a great idea to leave your payment information in the game if you're not the one who plays the game.
It's also a good idea to spend some time checking what content creators and online circles your kids spend time in outside of their direct playtime of the game. Many streamers and YouTube channels devoted to Roblox content are very safe and kid-friendly, while others might be less dedicated to the idea of keeping your child safe. You'll probably want to steer your kids away from channels that promote excessive microtransactions, suggest scams, or otherwise skirt danger. Just like with other content, you're much more likely to find other kids who are trying to break the rules or adults who are creating content for other adults rather than malicious adults looking to corrupt the youth.
Do you play Roblox? What are your favorite games? Let us know your favorite parts of Roblox, any tips we missed, and which cosmetics you like the most in the comments below!
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