As we’ve traveled to Maker Faires and STEM festivals around the country this spring, we’ve had many opportunities to chat with people who have never heard of us. One of the more common questions we’ve heard from newcomers is, “Why are you here?” It’s an understandably blunt inquiry — after all, we stand out as one of the few games in the crowd. We decided to address the question in writing.
We often say our players (quite literally) make the game — and with millions of players and thousands upon thousands of games to play, that’s pretty apparent. But for all the gaming that’s happening on ROBLOX, there’s also a huge transfer of knowledge taking place — players are transforming into creators and learning about complex technology at an earlier age than ever before, all while having fun. You don’t find this sort of active participation happening in just any game.
The ecosystem of ROBLOX is a large part of what makes it so special. Builders and developers of all ages are making great content, and that content is inspiring other players to try their hand. It’s a community of imaginative minds, both players and creators alike, who are all contributing to making something awesome.
We see the positive effects of community and sharing every day, but there’s more than just anecdotal evidence. In a Review of General Psychology piece on video games’ effects on children’s development, Dr. Cheryl Olson found that video games that fostered communities helped children develop socially, giving them tools to develop both leadership and teaching skills. You can read the study in full here.
How ROBLOX works can be boiled down to a simple statement: we create the tools and infrastructure for sharing; our community creates the content and opens it up to the world.
There are different levels of creation within ROBLOX. Building worlds and models allows people to explore their creativity and imagination, and get a feel for the process of self-expression in 3D space. The world of ROBLOX is an expanse that builders and developers made (and continue to make), and they can easily share their creations with the world. More advanced content creation takes the shape of game development, which requires knowledge of a few additional disciplines, but offers players the opportunity to learn the basics of coding, as well as the fundamentals of business and game design (currently an $11 billion dollar industry, and growing!). We now have several teenage game developers who have earned more than $10,000 off their ROBLOX endeavors via our Developer Exchange program. Need we say more?
Even playing the games on ROBLOX is part of the creative process. Game developers are hungry for feedback, and players are seeing firsthand the processes that go into making a game. Katie Salen, a game designer and educator was quoted in the New York Times describing how games like Minecraft and ROBLOX help kids develop new skills:
“Playing video games is a kind of literacy,” Salen said. “The kind of literacy that helps us make or critique the systems we live in … When we learn to play games with an eye toward uncovering their procedural rhetorics, we learn to ask questions about the models such games present.”
The creative game space
The positive effects of play, both educationally and creatively, are evident in ROBLOX and games like it. For example, Little Big Planet, a game which also allows player to create and share content, was deemed by the US Government to be beneficial to developing children’s STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) skills, and President Obama even proposed a bill to get the game put into libraries all over the country.
Games that involve communities and empower them to improve the experience are some of the most successful games on the planet. Will Wright, creator of SimCity, The Sims, and Spore, has long been an advocate for community creation and feedback. According to Wright, “the game turns into a tool of self-expression” when gamers are allowed to build upon it. And the success of games like The Sims and the PC gaming community’s mod scene prove that gamers are more engaged and invested when they’re helping create the game experience and share it with friends.
What’s the meaning of all of this? Just because ROBLOX is a game doesn’t mean the collective millions of hours spent interacting with it every month lack value. As players, builders and developers, ROBLOX members are picking up increasingly essential life skills and finding the inspiration to create, while simultaneously doing something that’s genuinely fun.
We’re really excited that the ROBLOX community is so passionate. And it’s only getting bigger and more engaged. As it grows, more creative minds enter the world, and the games they make continue to impress us more. As ROBLOX grows and changes, this generation of players are coming out of it with the tools they need to be successful in life. ROBLOX helps build the players, as much as the players build ROBLOX.