It seems that the ability to create and control a world can only be understood if we are talking about a virtual world. And Roblox lets you do just that. It serves as a free social platform that hosts a variety of games and experiences in which one can participate, all while offering a powerful chat system.
Players can create their own custom avatars by cycling through a range of options such as hair, clothing, accessories, and emotes. And then, with just a few clicks, you can choose a server and jump right into the middle of a game session. Here, you can evade the police, play a multiplayer shooter game, or make new friends in the combined Robloxian Highschool, to name a few.
Created by David Baszucki and Erik Cassel in 2004, Roblox saw rapid growth in the second half of 2010, when YouTubers started using it to create memes or run illegal versions of popular games. The lockdown caused by the pandemic has been another driving force, urging children around the world to sign up and interact with each other, bringing the player base to more than 164 million active users in August 2020. It has also hosted some virtual concerts, similar to Fortnite. Artists like Zara Larrson and Twenty One Pilots have performed on a range of multi-dimensional stages.
Besides the consumer side, Roblox includes a downloadable program called Roblox Studio, which is the primary engine the game runs on. Players can use it to create virtual spaces and objects by tinkering with 3D models or coding over them using the Lua programming language to create new game modes that others can play.
However, the compilation phase does not require any coding knowledge. Just like Unreal Engine 4, users can import and directly interact with the available templates to resize, resize, angles, and move them using draggable axes.
The built-in properties tab adds more depth to your forms, by offering color options, transparency sliders, shadows, and reflection. It even lets you choose textures. Collisions can also be enabled, with a simple checkbox so your character doesn’t pass through models or walls like holograms
When the game or virtual room is done creating, users can publish it for anyone to play or set it to ‘Private’ or ‘Friends only’ by heading to the permissions settings. One can also select the devices on which the game will be played – PC, phone, tablet or consoles.
Robux and exploit kids developer
Robux is basically a virtual currency that is used to make in-game purchases. Most of them are cosmetic, while others enhance your Roblox experience by unlocking paid games. For example, in city-based simulation game modes, players can purchase boosters that speed up the rate of progression or give them extra money to complete certain tasks, rather than having to earn them through gameplay. These are called microtransactions and are generally frowned upon for the extent of their manipulation – providing an unfair advantage to those willing to pay for them.
In-game currency can be obtained through the official store in bundles, for which you have to pay real money. Spending the lowest level, $4.99 (about Rs 372) grants 400 Robux, while the highest amount, $19.99 (about Rs 1,490) grants 1,700, allowing you to purchase upgrades and abilities for your LEGO-like characters. There is also a monthly subscription model called Roblox Premium, which offers a Robux bonus, as long as your card is attached to it.
The company has been repeatedly criticized for these exploitative practices, with children spending large amounts of money on the platform without their parents’ consent. In addition, there have been cases where accounts that submitted chargeback requests or requested a refund, or players got the bait to click on surface links for free Robux.
Now, to be fair, there are ways to earn free coins, which mainly involve developing a Roblox game with some form of monetization or referring friends using the affiliate program. However, in the middle of 2021, the investigative journalism YouTube channel – “People make games” The studio was accused of exploiting child developers. This would include the promise of “serious cash” in exchange for monetized games, when in reality, they are offered little or no money at all.
To put this in perspective, Steam takes a 30 percent share of all its sales, while at Epic Games the value is set at 12 – which is why a lot of developers choose to release games there. Roblox follows a similar formula to Steam but pays the remaining 70 percent into Robux – a virtual currency that has no real value. Now, if any user intends to withdraw those Robux and convert them into real currency, the minimum withdrawal is 100,000 Robux, which is equivalent to $1,000. Meaning, if you happen to win $950 worth of virtual currency, your real salary is still at $0. You might also wait until the next month for more players to jump into your game, or bring your hard-earned Robux back in.
Roblox’s ever-growing player base makes it difficult to discover minigames from the vast ocean of what the company considers “best games”. In order to achieve success, one can struggle and keep their hopes up, or pay Roblox to advertise their game.
For this, the user has to transfer his money to Robux and then compete in an auction to get ad slots. After that, it is a matter of chance. In short, the kid developers end up investing more money into the game, instead of making the actual profit.
Communication and harassment system
Unlike the crowded chat interface in Minecraft, Roblox features cleaner solutions. There is a text chat system that pops a speech bubble above a person’s head, making it easier for players to identify who is talking to whom. A voice chat feature is also included, although to access it, a person must be over 13 years old. And yes, parents can control who their kids communicate with and there are filters for games that minors are not allowed to access.
But the unscrupulous elements find their way inside. This could be to deceive children from their hard-earned items via the built-in trading system or to do something horrible like sending inappropriate messages. In fact, this was the case with a Roblox developer who assaulted a girl for months. Ironically, when the incident was revealed, the victim was ashamed that she had “tried to spoil someone’s life”. And while the developer’s account was banned soon after, there was no word on actual repercussions.
Additionally, there is adult content, spread across the platform, with black market casinos and sex/strip clubs taking center stage. However, the company can only close these rooms/games instead of supervising or regulating them, since most users use third-party apps to connect. Or at least, that’s the excuse they kept falling back on.
In the middle of 2020, a led investigation was conducted fast company It led to the discovery that a lot of digital sex parties are, in fact, run by kids under the age of 17. Dubbed “apartment games,” these spaces served as a free haven for anyone wanting to unburden their distractions. Players create nude characters, role-play them, and have them perform sexual acts, with options that allow them to switch positions. Others were just using insults and making offensive jokes.
Roblox was created as a vast digital playground for kids – more than half of American gamers are under 16 years old. And now the company is waging a tech shadow war against “apartment games”: digital sex parties where kids act like adults. https://t.co/OCknlcSwrt
– Fast Company August 19, 2020
Finding a dwelling game is a difficult task, and in most cases, the children’s developers were making it themselves. The process involved paying a certain amount of Robux to an owner on a special Discord server, which would provide templates and codes for the game. The buyer then tweaks some aspects, advertises it as his own sex club and, as you’d expect, gains more attraction than he would have if he had made up his original game.
To get into such clubs, customers will have to purchase T-shirts or virtual items via Robux, which go into the creator’s pocket before that eventually, making their way back into the company. The thriving environment also makes it easier for pedophiles to care for children for sexual abuse, even though most brokers claim to ban suspects from their servers. This may include setting filters for messages, listening to their voices, and blocking those who offer to share illegal photos on Snapchat.
There have also been instances of in-game sexual violence, most notably in 2018, when an American mother noticed her 7-year-old’s avatar being gang-raped by two people. At that time, Roblox banned the player and apologized to the victim and her family, discovering that their protection system had been hacked and tampered with. The perpetrator edited the code to show a custom animation, which also added male genitals.
It seems that some of these issues could have been avoided if only Roblox had better control over the content. Implementing a game review and approval system prior to hosting can greatly improve children’s experience. Adding a verification process to reduce the ease of creating new accounts or just adding a stronger payment system that requires direct parental authentication is also a great solution. But, the company continues to take the safest path and ban people instead of adding appropriate measures, which would be costly.