A parent’s guide to the vast world of Roblox
My kids chat with their friends almost every day as they get off the bus. This is strange because my children hadn’t played Roblox before I began writing this article three weeks earlier. My kids have never played but that hasn’t stopped them from loving it and insisting they’re experts (here’s looking for you, Minecraft ). Before I let them play a new game, I decided that I would check out Roblox for myself to see what all the fuss was about among 6-year-olds and 7-year olds.
What I found surprising was not one game, but a diverse and varied collection of experiences to suit any taste. All running on a simple, though clunky, user interface. As an adult, Roblox is not something I enjoy more than Assassin’s Creed, Apex legends ,, or Fortnite ,, but there are a few gems. I can see why children, especially those who aren’t yet old enough to play more complex games, love the simplicity and straightforward approach of the Roblox ecosystem.
What’s Roblox ??
As mentioned above, Roblox doesn’t just have one game. Instead, it is a platform available on Windows, Xbox One, Amazon, Android, and Apple devices that allows anyone to create their own games–or as Roblox calls them: experiences. According to the game’s corporate website, there are more than 11 million different games available, covering nearly every genre and area of interest. They also cover a wide range of quality. Some are extraordinary feats of game design while others are unpublished and insufficiently played. Each one is a testament to the creativity of an individual, group, or professional game designer working for an established company.
With 11 million potential gaming experiences, you’ll be hard-pressed to think of a kind of game that isn’t represented somewhere in Roblox. I’ve found quality shooters, martial arts fighters, world-builders, role-playing games, racing games, and recreations of some of my favorite childhood gaming titles, like Sonic. The world-building games are my favorite, as I find the controls for faster-paced driving and fighting games a little slow. In just a few weeks, I have found games in almost every genre that are worth my time.
Is Roblox good for kids?
In a word, yes. There are many games that children can enjoy, and there are plenty of options. I asked the children at our morning bus stop (kindergarteners and first- and second-graders) which games they would recommend for me to check out for this article. They gave me a long list. It was striking that younger children preferred role-playing games. One popular suggestion was Adopt Me, a game where you adopt pets and take care of them. Players can dress their pets in many different outfits, customize their characters, and even design their house. Brookhaven is another experience they all recommended, and it seems similar to the game Second Life. Players load into a city and have to build a life for themselves as their chosen alter ego. These role-playing games are a continuation of children’s natural imagination, but on a digital platform.
Roblox also has a number of features that give parents control over the types of content their children are exposed to. Only lists of suitable games can be used to limit children’s accounts. These lists are curated by the staff. You can limit or turn off financial transactions. Chat features and friend requests can be limited or completely turned off–which is probably a good idea because many of the in-game conversations are inappropriate for younger kids despite Roblox‘s moderation efforts.
Don’t rely solely on in-game settings to keep children safe online. Talk to them about how to be a good digital citizen and what to do if they come across inappropriate content.
Decide how much you want to spend
Roblox is free to play. However, as with many such games, your children will be asking you to purchase a lot of items. Players can purchase cosmetic content to jazz up their in-game avatars, such as clothes, jewelry, decorative weapons, and other purely aesthetic items. They can also purchase experience passes in some games, which give players enhanced abilities in the game. These could include more health, strength, a better starting item loadout or fancier vehicles. Finally, players can opt to purchase a premium membership, which gives a monthly stipend of Robux, the in-game currency, and access to Roblox’s trading system.
One thing to keep in mind as you’re deciding how much to spend is that some percentage of the money goes back to the creator of the games your kids are playing, not just to the Roblox company. Roblox claims that on average, 28 cents of every dollar spent on the platform is paid out to the game creators in some way. Although some of these creators are large corporations, many of them are small creators who will appreciate the support.
Can you really build your own games?
Roblox is a success largely because of the large community of game designers that have contributed to the platform. And those contributions are powered by the relatively easy-to-use design interface that Roblox has created with Roblox Studio.
There’s two main elements to designing a game with Roblox .. The first is to create the world map. This is not difficult. You can either load a blank world or modify one of the pre-designed templates to suit your needs. You can create terrain, place vehicles and animals, or build your own using a few digital tools. Although there is some learning curve for more advanced builds, anyone can master map-building in the Studio.
Walking on a map is a lot of fun. But, to make those worlds into games, you need to learn scripting, the second step in game development. Roblox Studio was born out of my lack of time and comfort. The Studio uses a lightweight and learnable programming language called Lua. Although it is not the most difficult language, it is still programming and requires practice. Roblox has a fairly in-depth series of courses on how to build games that will walk you through learning Lua, so you and/or your kids can absolutely start building if you’re willing to put in the time and effort. Roblox can transform from a fun, interactive gaming experience to a learning experience as your children put in the effort to bring their ideas to life.
I can’t wait for you to see their creations.
The author of 5 books, 3 of which are New York Times bestsellers. I’ve been published in more than 100 newspapers and magazines and am a frequent commentator on NPR.