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  • Writer's pictureAshizia Dean

Roblox, one of the world's most famous children's games' aims to strengthen regulatory controls

Roblox is a massive mazelike game world that has been compared to a primitive virtual world and is amongst the world ’s most famous children's games.

The specific numbers are murky, but according to Bloomberg in 2020, two-thirds of all US children aged nine to twelve play the game.

Players on Roblox can work together to build and play games. It's a form of communication with others in a virtual world in real time.

Roblox, one of the world's most famous children's games' aims to strengthen regulatory controls.

The app's developer tools enable players to create games. In contrast to more mainstream games, the content is created by the users. It's a hugely successful business model, but it's not without its drawbacks.

On the application, there is are sex games on that are known as "condos." They are user-created rooms where people can discuss about sex - and their virtual avatars can have virtual sex. Roblox's guidelines are completely ignored in these games.

"We know there is an extremely small subset of users who deliberately try to break the rules," a Roblox representative told the BBC.

Condo games are typically only active for a short period of time, about less than an hour, before being identified and removed. Roblox claims that it is continuously seeking to take these games offline, employing both manual and automated methods.

"We conduct a safety review of every single image, video, and audio file uploaded to Roblox, using a combination of human and machine detection," it said.

But some explicit content does slip through the net. It's a "cat and mouse" issue, said Larry Magid, president of ConnectSafely- a non-profit organisation that raises awareness about child safety online.

"There are people who are going out of their way to game the systems," he said.

These aren't the kind of condos you'd come across by chance. You'd have to go out of your way to find them. However, their very existence concerns Mr Magid: "Roblox is a platform that is very popular among children, and it allows children under 13, so it has a special responsibility to protect its users."

The possibility of children and adults socializing together in these spaces is especially concerning. An instant messenger is included in the game, allowing users to communicate with one another as well as with everyone else who is playing the game.

Roblox has said to BBC that they had created 'Parental Control' tools which can be used to limit who children interact with and which interactions they could access.

This, however, asserts that parents are technologically savvy enough to be aware of these protective measures.

Roblox sought to show to the BBC that condos are frequently hard to come by on the platform. The BBC, on the other hand, discovered overt sexual speech in legitimate games as well.

Individuals appear different in the metaverse, according to Dr. Liraz Margalit, a digital psychologist who studies online behavior. "You have the anonymity and the disinhibition effect," she explained. "This platform provides you with the playground to do anything you want."

Meta, Facebook's parent company, added a new "Personal Boundary" function to its virtual reality "Horizon Venues" game last week.

The allow users to meet up in various locations, where their avatars can watch sports, go to concerts, or work out together.

Following a woman's complaint of a virtual sexual assault on the platform, the platform underwent updates.

Roblox strengthens privacy controls.

Roblox told the BBC: "We have zero tolerance for sexual content or behaviour of any kind, and we take swift action against anyone found to be acting in breach of our Community Standards."

Several days after the BBC informed the company of its research results, Roblox posted a blog post summarizing what it is doing to safeguard children.

Microsoft, Meta, and Roblox are going head to head to create metaverses. However, there have already been indications that these virtual worlds are being hard to regulate.

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