Roblox is a sprawling universe of games that functions as a primitive metaverse. While it has become wildly successful, it also comes with major problems.
Roblox allows users to develop and play games together. It offers a way to connect in real-time with other users in a virtual world.
Roblox’s user base consists primarily of children. In 2020, Roblox announced that two-thirds of all US children between the ages of nine and twelve support the game, and this is where the problem lies.
Roblox sex games on the platform are called “condos.” These are user-generated spaces where users can talk about sex – and where their avatars can engage in virtual sex. In these games, Roblox rules are deliberately violated.
Roblox knows this is a problem: “We know there is an extremely small subset of users who deliberately try to break the rules,” said a company spokesperson.
Usually, condo games are only live for less than an hour before they are detected and dismantled. Roblox constantly takes these games offline via manual and automated systems.
What is very worrying is that children and adults are potentially interacting with each other in these spaces, and the game has an instant messenger where users can talk to each other and everyone who plays the game.
Roblox announced that it has developed ‘Parental Control’ tools” that can “restrict who children interact with and which experiences they can access,” but that requires parents to be tech-savvy enough to handle these protections.
According to Dr. Liraz Margalit, a digital psychologist specializing in online behavior, people behave differently in the metaverse just as they behave differently online. “You have the anonymity and you have the disinhibition effect. This platform provides you with the playground to do anything you want,” she said.
Tech giants such as Microsoft, Meta, and Roblox are now racing to build metaverses, but there are signs that they are already struggling to monitor these virtual spaces.
For more information, read the original story on the BBC.