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Community Outreach: ROBLOX Stops by Bay Area Middle School

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Alice Rice is the Technology Coordinator for the OMI/Excelsior Beacon Center in San Francisco, California. The non-profit center works with various local educational entities to serve the San Francisco Community through a variety of programs and services for adults, youth, and families.  One of these services has come to be known as The Games Review Board–kids collectively review video games they’ve been playing and share the reviews through a podcast. Alice had noticed that mostly all of the recent reviews were from ROBLOX games, so she asked us to participate in one of their sessions. Founder and CEO David Baszucki, Senior Software Developer Robert Morgan and Studio Engineering Director Tim Brown took up the opportunity to interact with ROBLOX users in person and headed to the James Denman Middle School in San Francisco.

“The kids still can’t believe it happened,” says Alice. “They’re still talking about it even though it happened a week ago.”

Dave, Tim and Robert spent the day chatting with the crowd of kids, who had many questions they wanted answered. What’s your average work day like? How can I design games for a living? What’s it like making games?

Tim had a very specific idea as to what he wanted to do with the remainder of the visit. He heads up the design work in ROBLOX Studio, and values feedback that could help his team make ROBLOX Studio an easier-to-use experience. He hoped to gain some useful information from his visit–and he did. Here’s what he learned:

“I realized that a lot of these kids weren’t actually using Studio to build, they were using other forms of build methods. A big one was Build Mode, where you can run around with another user building things in ROBLOX,” recalls Tim. “I saw three kids on the same personal server building with one another–they seemed to really appreciate the social aspect.”

This wasn’t news to Alice, who has been keeping a close eye on how ROBLOX has been affecting students over the past couple of months. A big part of the attraction she says, is the shared feeling of collaboration.

“Kids are curious, and ROBLOX satisfies a lot of curiosities they have,” says Alice. “These kids are learning social and team-working skills by building and playing with one another. The longer they spend with it, the more they start to wonder about ROBLOX Studio. They start to build things and show them off to their friends.”

“A huge part of it is that kids will share a space in the lab making stuff on ROBLOX. Then they can go home and continue working together on the internet,” she added.

Alice explains that many kids start off by playing video games on ROBLOX, but they often feel the desire to actually create things by the time they hit the 7th grade. Some of the students frequent public libraries during the weekends to game and build with one another on the public-use computers. Many of the students in the after-school gaming group have already learned the fundamentals of Lua scripting. Some aspire to be programmers when they become adults.

“Reach for your dreams,” Dave tells students. “Do well in school, learn as much as you can about math and science, and go to a good university to learn computer science.”