Andy Robertson has three children and has written about technology for families for 15 years. He is a freelance family technology expert for the BBC and recently wrote the Taming Gaming book for parents. The book is supported by a Family Video Game Database.
Family Video Game Database - PEGI/ESRB
Roblox continues to be one of the most popular online video games for children and teenagers to play. It’s unusual because it offers a range of games to experience, created by their players rather than professional developers. In this way, it is more like a video game platform rather than a single game.
Along with understanding Roblox itself, it’s also important to look at some specific games to get a deeper appreciation of why children and teenagers play it so much and what to watch out for.
When setting up Roblox ensure you have the right configuration set-up in the user account for the game. There is some really good information in the Roblox Parents site . Setting the Restricted option will ensure that your child can only access games that have been flagged as suitable by the Roblox company. Along with this, you can specify how they interact with other players on the platform and who they can be friends with.
Roblox itself is rated PEGI 7 “because it features non-realistic violence in a child-friendly setting or context, mild violence that lacks any apparent harm or injury to human-like characters and pictures or sounds likely to be scary to young children.”
However, the specific experiences in each of its games are not covered by the PEGI rating as they are considered user-generated content – made by players of the game rather than the game maker.
This means it’s important to understand these user-created games to be able to guide your child towards the best Roblox games for them. While there are many popular titles, here is details look at four of the more popular games and how they work:
Adopt Me is a game about adopting and raising different pets. You can also decorate your house and unlock vehicles. Much of this you can do without making additional purchases, but as you progress there is a drive to sell items that enable you to access rarer pets.
There are five ranks: common, uncommon, rare, ultra-rare, and legendary. The most valuable legendary pets include Dragons, King/Queen Bee, Owl, Crow, Reindeer, Turtle, Kangaroo, Unicorn, Griffin, Ninja Monkey and Kitsune. You train your pets by completing tasks. Once you have four fully grown they can be traded for an even rarer Neon pet with glowing parts. You can then do this four times to trade them in for a Mega Neon Pet that glows rainbow.
You can make small purchases of eggs in the game with the currency you buy with real money. This can increase your chance of getting a rare pet. Also, you are encouraged to earn stars by playing consecutive days and win special eggs. This means that some items in the game represent many thousands of hours of playtime and are of high value.
Playing this game with younger children is important. This both ensures they don’t overspend in the game, but also use the experience to develop an understanding of the value in a virtual world.
Phantom Forces is another popular Roblox game. This one stands out because of the fine-tuned skill-based challenge it offers players.
It’s a shooting game where you play in an online team trying to score more points than the other side. It’s a game that offers a good alternative to more violent shooting games like Call of Duty or Battlefield for players who are not old enough for those games. However, although the visuals are cartoony, this is still about using knives and guns to kill the other players.
The game does include red splatters that are intended to look like blood. And in some modes, the enemies stay on the ground after they have been killed. It’s worth playing this game yourself first or watching some footage in this video before letting your child play the game.
It also includes in-game purchases that offer “loot box style” boxes. These are opened with a spin-flourish to reveal random cosmetic skin to different weapons in the game. Although the cost is not high on a single purchase, because you need multiple skins of a certain rarity to trade for the more rare versions, multiple purchases are likely.
Jailbreak is a game where players take on the role of either police or convicts. If you are in prison your job is to escape and then find the hideout before pulling off various robberies and heists. If you are the police you try and catch the robbers and put them back in jail.
This simple premise has been expanded over the years with a large and detailed world, many weapons and vehicles. There are also a large number of different robberies players can take on — even holding up a cargo ship while stealing its merchandise.
While there are shooting and combat in the game, the play is kept fun and in the cops-n-robbers playground style. There are many purchases you can make in the game, however. These range from expansive vehicles to special fuel that gives you an advantage over other players.
MeepCity is a playful social game where you build and decorate a house before heading out to interact with other players and take on different tasks.
This is another game that started quite simple but has grown to offer a plethora of activities. These range from fishing to a full Mario Kart style racing game. Each of the different things to do is found in the interconnected hub-worlds that operate as both the map and somewhere to meet and interact with other players.
Although the majority of purchases in the game are quite cheap it’s important to know that there are a large number of things to buy. You can earn the currency to get these items, but many players will want to spend real money to access them more quickly.
There is a nice feature where you can gift other players items and currency. If used well this can be a nice way to foster generosity in your child’s play. However, some care is warranted to ensure they are not tricked into giving away high-value items.