For the uninitiated, ROBLOX is a massively multiplayer online virtual playground and workshop designed specifically for children 7 and over. Unlike other MMOGs where players roam various lands, perform jobs and take on hobbies, ROBLOX allows its users to build virtual worlds and games in a social, LEGO-like environment.
"Each player starts by choosing an avatar and giving it an identity," reads the official FAQ for parents. "They can then explore ROBLOX – interacting with others by chatting, playing games, or collaborating on creative projects. Each player is also given their own piece of undeveloped real estate along with a virtual toolbox with which to design and build anything desired — be it a navigable skyscraper, a working helicopter, a giant pinball machine, a multiplayer 'Capture the Flag' game or some other, yet-to-be-dreamed-up object or activity."
But despite claiming to be geared for children 7 and up, it's not a matter of jumping in and stacking blocks as seen with Minecraft. There's a simple interface that allows the user to modify a pre-existing "place," and then there's a separate editing program (seen above) that can be downloaded and installed like many popular level editors offered on the Internet. There are no real tutorials to get these kids started, only forum access and an overall impression of a trial-and-error approach to building. That said, it's simply amazing to see some of the content that's uploaded and shared for others to play and explore.
Take Luke Rogue, aka "stickmasterluke," for example. According to a ROBLOX representative who emailed us last night, he has been "playing" (or building) in ROBLOX for around three years. On Monday, he attended the first-ever ROBLOX Rally in San Francisco where thousands of kids came from across the world. According to the rep, he was swamped by 6 to 17-year-olds asking for his autograph, and here's why:
"Aside from being your average 16-year-old, Luke learned on ROBLOX to create his own virtual worlds within the game by learning LUA computer programming language," the rep told us. "Since ROBLOX is a social game, other ROBLOX players can play his games too... and to date, over 10 million have. Now, Luke is considering the possibility of becoming a future game developer, and tons of kids are following his lead, attending the ROBLOX Rally in hopes of learning more about how to create their own games. Kids like Luke are part of the social network of players that has made ROBLOX the second most popular kids entertainment site, with 942 million page views per month and 6.8 Million members."
You have to admit: over 10 million is definitely an impressive following. Luke currently offers ten downloadable games spanning from Capture the Flag to Jailbreak to an insta-gib fight in the fog – his influences are quite obvious to say the least.
As with most MMOGs currently available, ROBLOX offers a free option and additional premium subscriptions. The Turbo Builders Club allows users to store 25 "active places" but costs $11.95 per month. The Outrageous Builders Club allows for 100 "active places" but costs $19.95 per month. ROBLOX also provides additional payment packages including yearly and lifetime memberships.