I Invaded My Kids' Daily Roblox Time, And Here's What Happened

by Elizabeth Broadbent
Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty

My kids play Roblox every day. If you don’t have kids 5-12 years old, or live in a screenless void, Roblox is a platform made of millions of user-created games. Theory: kids play games, kids code games. It’s technically free as long as you don’t drop cash on Robux, which we don’t. During the pandemic, it’s become my 11-year-old’s social outlet: he talks to his (IRL) friends there. My 9- and 7-year-old play with each other. I tend to bitch that they play too much, too often — all three of them in one room, staring at screens: one on our TV, headphones, and a Kindle Fire (he’s dysgraphic, so he talks to friends on Messenger Kids at the same time); two on tablets.

I recently talked to Joel Willis, Editor-in-Chief at The Dad and Head of The Dad Gaming, and we had a great conversation about how games — Rocket League in particular — had been a fun, effortless way for him to bond with his kids. I laughed that I never really mastered a PS2 controller. And I never did. But I sure as hell could use an N64 — and I was so good at old school NES that I could defeat Ganon without downing the blue potion. I did miss all those long days in college playing Dance, Dance Revolution and Mario Kart (fall off Rainbow Row, take a shot).

I could play Roblox. I mean, it’s a blocky dude trundling around.

What if instead of bitching about endless screentime, I started playing with my kids? What if rather than glaring over my laptop, I logged on, too?

“Can I play Roblox?” I asked my kids, sort of tentatively. “Like, do I need another tablet? Do we have enough that I can play, too?”

My middle son’s eyes widened. “You want to play?”

I nodded.

When we figured out I could play Roblox on my phone, everyone helped create my avatar. I needed this hair. I need that T-shirt. So I went out into the game to mother my Blox brood.

They Dragged Me Into Wacky Wizards

“Okay, okay, first you have to play Wacky Wizards?” said my middle son August, who generally picked their game. This was not a coincidence. Wacky Wizards is his favorite. It sends you on mini-quests (sort of) to find potion ingredients, which you add to your cauldron. You drink your potions, and they have really weird effects on your avatar, like zombifying you, shrinking you, or making you fly.

My youngest, Simon, sat next to me and ordered me to dump this or that in my cauldron. A squeal came from our other couch. August had discovered a brand-new potion. “Mama Mama Mama Mama DRINK THIS!” he shouted, and ran to me in-game. A teensy Baby Yoda appeared on-screen.

“Uh, is that you?” I asked.

I found a Baby Yoda potion!”

“Oh my God. Make me Baby Yoda.”

He made me Baby Yoda.

Then I trundled after him as he helped me through quests he’d already completed. “Okay, this goblin wants that ingredient so you have to…” he’d say. His little brother, also Baby Yoda, tagged along.

We played for an hour and half. I was hooked.

We Played All The Damn Time

My oldest, Blaise, pretended that he was too cool for our various Roblox adventures. So August, Simon, and I played Little World (be a bug, evolve, get a pet alligator, which is totally random, but so much of Roblox is totally random) and more Wacky Wizards. They always waited for me. “I’m over here near the spawn point,” they’d say. “Oh, there you are. Okay, follow me to…”

“Hey, I’m playing this game Vans World,” I said. “You skateboard and you can customize your shoes?” It sounded sort of like Tony Hawk Pro Skater, only with Block People. “You can play with me if you want.”

So we played Vans World. They discovered secret skate parks. I showed them where to buy tricks. Simon figured out a good way to upgrade your tricks, and I did too, so we all leveled up, and… another hour and half later, we’d had a blast. “Um, I need to leave and write,” I said. “I promise I’ll play again later.”

I was met with a chorus of “Nooooooooo!” My Roblox playing was like, cool. I had become cool. My husband laughed as he walked through our living room. “It’s so cute,” he told me as we went to bed.

“Shut up,” I said. “I will kick your ass at Vans World.”

Please Do Not Report Us In Brookhaven

Brookhaven is what Roblox calls “Real World Roleplay.” You have a house and a job, a pet and perhaps a baby. Theoretically you make friends. So Simon, August, and I all built houses near each other. Brookhaven is particularly fun because it allows you to equip lots of available Roblox stuff without paying for it. That’s how I ended up with rainbow fairy wings. Blaise finally decided whatever, he’d play with us, and built a house in an adjacent to my awesome-ass treehouse.

Then I discovered they had upgraded, and I could ride a horse. While wearing fairy wings. So we tore through the city on horseback, and apparently Brookhaven is communist because I could ride my horse through its grocery store and grab a Hershey bar.

Or maybe it’s anarcho-capitalist.

“Hey,” August said. “Ride over to the bank. Let’s rob the bank!”

After some fumbling (why did Simon have a keycard that let him in the bank’s back end? And why does Brookhaven equip bombs?), we robbed that bank like, three times, laughing our asses off, and using an Army tank the last time. Blaise drove while I sat, fairy-winged and innocent, on the back. Then we jumped our horses off their diving board.


Then we all had black horses and it was glorious. We were a Roblox gang of Brookhaven miscreants. With a tank. I hadn’t laughed that hard with my kids in a long, long time. It was cooperative and fun and subversive and I had rainbow fairy wings.

They made me play some battle games. Even when they devoted too much attention to protecting me, I kept dying, not a shock: I’d always sucked at GoldenEye 007. Polybattle wasn’t terrible, but I was a noob and I didn’t have a chance to play any good parts (flying planes or driving boats); I had to guard our base and shoot enemies. I still kept dying. They laughed at me and but were very, very patient.

They always waited for me. They always found me in-game. They stayed patient about teaching player mechanics (and I really sucked at some games). “Okay, we need to find a battle game where Mama won’t like, die instantly,” Blaise said.

“What about [insert game]?” August asked.

“No. She’ll just die.”

“Don’t join the game I’m playing,” Simon would warn sometimes. “You’ll just die.”

When I ask to play — and I always ask — they never say no. I thought they’d find me jumping into Roblox funny. I didn’t realize they’d love it. They were so excited to welcome me into this weird world of wizard potions and bug evolution and… well, if you want anything, Roblox has it. Including, apparently, bank robbery.

If you can manage it, give your kids’ games a chance. I thought it would be a fun experiment. I didn’t think my kids and I would enjoy it as much as we have. I didn’t think I’d get addicted to Brookhaven and especially Vans World. I didn’t think that I’d keep asking, “What are you playing?”

And rather than sigh, they’d say, “I’ll show you. Come play with us.”