A quick guide to Roblox, for adults – AKA the latest ‘next Minecraft’

Some might be baffled by the cheapo Lego art style and janky controls – but, for kids, playing a game that doesn’t always work properly is all part of the fun

If your kids aren’t playing Fortnite – the colourful, cartoonish shooter that has recently become a massive after-school (and work lunch-break) craze – they are probably playing Roblox. Like Minecraft, which colonised the minds of basically all school-aged children around 2012-15, Roblox lets players get creative and build things. But it goes further than Minecraft in that you can create entire games in Roblox, from racers to haunted-house adventures to competitive battle arenas. According to the developer, it has 56 million players.

How does it work?

It is an entirely online, social game: everything you play has been built by someone else. Naturally, this means Roblox is absolutely full of knock-off user-created riffs on popular games such as Pokémon, Five Nights at Freddy’s and Mario. There is endless content, which helps explain why it is so enduringly popular. One of the most beloved Roblox games right now is a cops-and-robbers riff on Grand Theft Auto called Prison Break, where you either join a team of prisoners trying to escape jail and rob banks, or a team of police trying to arrest them. Because you can technically create anything in Roblox, there are algorithms and moderators beating back the inevitable swearwords and swastikas, but they are not always successful.

Is it any good?

Unlike Fortnite or Minecraft, Roblox is not a very good video game – but hey, children don’t always have great taste. Adults will be baffled by the cheapo Lego art style and janky controls. Because Roblox games are mostly made by kids, they don’t actually work very well. But that’s kind of the point for young players: the fact that nothing works properly makes it funnier. Roblox involves a lot of unpredictable slapstick, as game systems go wrong or players find ways to work around the rules.

Why is it so popular?

with its endless, mind-numbingly homogenous Roblox videos. (Here’s how these play out: “Hey kids, let’s try out this Roblox game! OMG, this isn’t going as expected! *hysterical screaming*.”) It’s not all bad, though – Roblox is creative and social, building your own games develops some useful skills, and there’s always the minuscule chance your kid could become one of the million-subscriber child YouTubers out there and fund your retirement.