My darling wife was volunteering at the world-famous Ponoka Stampede (props to my cowboy homies). She saw a kid playing some cool games and asked what they were. “It’s Roblox!”, I imagine the child said. “Your husband should check it out and write about it on MakeUseOf.com. His article will go straight to the front page of Digg and be Twittered near and far.” Did I mention I imagined that he said this? The sky is purple in my world.
In any event, I did check out Roblox. Not only is it fun, it has some great features. It’s a cool, free virtual world for kids where you get to create your own character, much as you would for SecondLife or any number of other virtual world games.
In this one, the characters are blocky, and reminiscent of those little yellow Lego fellows. It’s kind of like Sims, where you get to build your own buildings and towns. Sort of like Webkinz in that you can earn points (known as tickets or Robux in Robloxian) so that you can do different things like buy user-created online goods for your Roblox character.
What really sets it apart is that kids playing on Roblox can create their own games and put them out there for the world to use.
Parent’s – take note of this site. Here are some of the uber cool tools you can use to keep your wee ones safe:
- All in-game chat is filtered for coarse language. As the parent, you can control whether they can chat or use something called menu chat. It’s a list of pre-written questions and responses. The kid’s just choose them and that’s all the communication they are allowed.
- You can control something called SuperSafe Privacy mode for the kids too. What that does is block ALL text fields from accepting any input. So your precious one cannot put any personal information out there.
- As the parent, you login for them using your email account. That keeps you in control of their playing time AND adds another layer of security from weirdos.
- Most importantly, Roblox has a team of paid and volunteer monitors who pore over all chat logs and forum discussions. There is zero tolerance for course or violent language.
- The Roblox team provides tips for online security and recommends other resources to help you have a fun, safe time online.
As a Dad, I’m very pleased to see this. But as a grown-up kid, I want the games! There are a lot of games on this site, many of them user-built. As a result, some of them are not so good and some are way cool. Area 51 was pretty cool but I’m not sure exactly what the objective of it was. I found a flying saucer and got in it, but I couldn’t go anywhere. Then,I got infected with some sort of alien virus and that’s how you die, I guess. You don’t really die, you just regenerate.
The Roblox-created game, Crossroads, was really fun, too! It’s a good starting ground to learn how to use your tools (which are really weapons) with a bunch of other players. Some of them hang out there regularly and talk to each other and team up. That was so much fun, my wonderful one had to tell me to get back to writing. I wish she wouldn’t use the cattle prod, though.
Sure, the game play seems juvenile, but guess what? It’s supposed to be. The point is that this is an online gaming community that the kids themselves can create. They can do that through the Roblox Studio. It strongly resembles the Visual Basic Studio and allows you to design your own spaces and games. Unfortunately, it’s not terribly intuitive to me, but they do have great documentation over at the Roblox Wiki.
To really get the full effect of building your own games and items in Roblox, you would need a Builder’s Club account, which does cost. Maybe give your kids a couple months of using the site in general, before commiting to that.
With the ability to build games, sell items that they make and interact with other games, kids are learning priciples of programming, design, marketing, business and Math skills. I fail to see the downside to Roblox.
Are you a Robloxian? Or maybe your kids are? What do you like best or least about Roblox? Is this your first time hearing of Roblox and you want to thank me with gratuitous praise? Are you aware of any other free virtual world for kids? Well, my fellow Robloxians, that’s what the comments below are for.