With Windows 10 Gems!
With support from Microsoft
You are far from passive in this blocky virtual world — you are a creator too!
Gaming takes all forms these days from high-end, graphic-intensive AAA shooters to retro-styled platformers. Roblox has been on the youth gaming scene since 2004 and has built up a massive audience – in fact, they're up to over 12 million monthly active users, which is a whole lot of kids (and, admittedly, some adults too).
Roblox has a new app built for Windows 10 that just recently came out and not only do I give it a spin, but I finally get to learn the secrets of what Roblox is and why it is so popular!
What is Roblox?
If you are over 30, you may not even know what Roblox is or why so many young kids use it. While it is often erroneously compared to Minecraft, both games do share the same age demographic and "build your own world" modality with a focus on retro, block-style graphics.
However, that is where the similarities between Roblox and Minecraft end. Roblox is really two parts: the builder end, where kids learn the fundamentals of coding, and the game end, where you can play the end products.
Roblox is not a game. Roblox is literally millions of user-created mini-games all played online. Technically, most of these are massively multiplayer online role-playing games (aka MMORPGs) where pacing is slower, and users can chat with each other in real time.
While it does not cost anything to join or play, Roblox does have its own currency (dubbed Robux) that can be acquired through gameplay or in-app purchases ($1.99 will get you 160 Robux, for instance).
Kids aged 8-18 flock to Roblox due to the creative aspect. Instead of playing someone else's game you can make your own and share it with the world. The ability to craft your own retro world with mechanics, strategy, goals, and more taps into the natural tendencies of a child's imagination.
The best analogy I can give to people who are unfamiliar with Roblox is that the game is like Legos but with a digital edge.
Roblox is also everywhere. It is available on classic Windows, Windows 10, Max OS X, iPad, Android, Xbox One, and Oculus Rift. Most of those are to play Roblox, but users can also go to the next level and use Roblox Studio to start making their own worlds and games (and yes, you can even earn money doing it). There is even a Roblox University, which are free YouTube video tutorials demonstrating how to create things.
Roblox on Windows 10
The Roblox for Windows 10 (PCs, laptops, and tablets) is a relatively small app at around 63MB. That is because the millions of games within it are hosted on external servers that users tap into and stream to play. The app while native for Windows 10 reflects the same experience you get when logging into the Roblox website.
The games are free, and you can even play them all as an unregistered "guest" and users can opt for keyboard and mouse play or they can plug in an Xbox One controller.
Later, you can create an account and log in where you can add billing information and develop your profile. One of the significant areas for users is creating unique avatars, which is really your character in the games, similar to how players make a representation for themselves in Fallout 4, just blockier.
Once you log into Roblox you are presented with all the recommended mini-games. Click on any of them to read the description, see how people voted on the game (liking it or not), share it, favorite it, and read about all the details including the creator. Users can also create a VIP server where only their friends can join instead of anyone.
The Roblox app also has many other features including your Friends list, Catalog (collectibles, body parts, upgrades), Messages, Profile, Character, Inventory, Trade, Groups, Forums, Settings, and Help.
If all of that sounds a lot like a social app, you would be right. The social aspect to Roblox is massive as not only do kids play with their local friends, but with people they meet online and in games. Users can chat, share items, trade collectibles and just generally goof around.
How are the games?
I have to admit that Roblox games are rather unique. These are not quite the dramatic action you get on console or traditional PC games. Instead, Roblox games are a lot more about adventures like wandering around and discovering or surviving "disasters" that come every minute. Perhaps on the of the biggest areas are "tycoon" games where users build up their own character in a specific adventure like Superhero Tycoon, Clone Tycoon, Retail Tycoon, etc.
A lot of the games border on the silly like Escape from McDonalds, or the super famous Work at a Pizza Place and ROBLOX High School. That last game involves going to a virtual, blocky school where people can just hang out and, believe it or not, act like they are in school. There is even Temple of Memories where you just walk around and explore a peaceful, Zen-like world and users are encouraged just to chill (you get "Zen" by standing still and taking it all in with users being ranked on who has the most Zen).
Welcome to the Roblox world
Roblox for Windows 10 is a really great experience for children and their parents that are looking for something mentally healthier than, say, Call of Duty. Not only do they get to be social, meet people and have fun, but they can also learn the basics of computer coding and creation. That is why I think it is so popular as you are far from passive in this blocky virtual world – you are a creator too, and children have natural tendencies to want to express themselves in as many ways as possible.
Having Roblox on Windows 10 makes joining these game much easier than using the web browser and having Xbox One controller support is also a plus. Being able just to launch this creative world with the touch of a Tile is fantastic and kids of all ages will certainly benefit from having the highly-rated game available to them (Roblox currently maintains a 4.3 rating on the Store out of 5, with many five stars for the new Windows 10 version).
If you have children, now is the best time to get them started on Roblox and with Windows 10 it is even easier. For adults, well, I cannot say you will find this world within worlds exciting, but at least maybe now you can understand how this next generation is exploring the wonderful world of computing.
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Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.