One of the world’s most popular video games, Roblox boasts over 200 million global monthly active users.
Wildly successful among children, it is an ever-expanding sprawling universe in which gamers can meet, chat and play.
The game can be a terrific outlet for creativity and online play, but a darker side to the title has been revealed.
Roblox has a sex problem. A BBC report found a naked man, wearing only a dog collar, being led across the floor by a woman in a bondage outfit.
Users regularly and openly solicit cybersex, while others watch wearing Nazi uniforms.
These revelations are not an isolated incident, with other gamers reporting widespread inappropriate behavior.
Roblox has long known it has an adult content problem on its platform, but the game of cat and mouse between users and developers only has one winner.
What is Roblox?
Valued at $38billion on the New York Stock Exchange during its first week of flotation, Roblox is a massive online platform and game creation system.
It moves away from the traditional gaming experience by allowing players to program and play games created by other users, which some have called a primitive ‘metaverse’.
Devised by David Baszucki and Erik Cassel in 2004 then released two years later, the game’s popularity steadily rose but was mostly crowded out of the market by larger productions.
However, during the mid-2010s, the rise of popular YouTubers and Twitch helped the game reach new heights and millions of new users.
The Covid-19 pandemic saw the game’s popularity skyrocket, as it allowed children to play, create and chat in a fun online space while school was closed.
Roblox cannot be classified as video game, more a platform in which players can dip in and out of almost limitless virtual worlds and play any game they like.
But because of this, it makes the game almost impossible to regulate and leaves developers playing a gigantic game of Whac-A-Mole.
Are there age restrictions on Roblox?
Roblox is rated PEGI 7 in the UK. This means it is broadly suitable for children aged seven or older with some content that could possibly be frightening to younger children.
Internet safety organization Internet Matters point out that because the content in Roblox is user-generated it doesn’t fall under the same rigorous age ratings as content made by commercial companies.
Children even younger than seven that can easily sign up by simply entering a birth date that would allow them to play.
In response to recent reports, Roblox said: “We know there is an extremely small subset of users who deliberately try to break the rules.
“We conduct a safety review of every single image, video, and audio file uploaded to Roblox, using a combination of human and machine detection.”
But these measures are clearly not working.
Roblox’s sex games are commonly referred as ‘condos’. This is where users can talk about and simulate having sex with one another.
Though users are unlikely to just stumble upon one, there existence is highly worrying for parents and children.
Are there parental controls on Roblox?
Roblox told the BBC, they had developed Parental Control tools “that can be used to restrict who children interact with and which experiences they can access”.
But if your child is smart enough to sign up for Roblox, the likelihood they can switch these off.
The only real concrete parental measures the game has is for limiting microtransactions which can cost thousands of parents without them knowing.
Microtransactions are when users exchange real money for virtual coins to buy in-game items.