Max de Baey-Ernsten

Max de Baey-Ernsten is currently a student in the Master’s programme in Child and Youth Media at the University of Erfurt after completing his Bachelor’s degree in Childhood Studies. His work and research focuses on the mediatisation of children’s and young people’s lifeworlds, research into digital youth cultural places, social media and online gaming as well as participatory child and youth media protection. In addition, as a freelance media educator, he conducts offers for children, young people and adults on various media education topics and works as a student assistant in a research project on media education for future teachers.

Roblox – It’s the economy, stupid!

FROG 2023 – Talk

The online gaming platform Roblox offers millions of user-generated experiences of all kinds, including multiplayer games, virtual concert venues, social hangouts, or collaborative learning spaces. With nearly 70 million daily players and 3.2 million creators as of March 2023, Roblox is now one of the largest gaming communities in the world, rivalling its much better-known competitors Fortnite and Minecraft. Roblox users are predominantly children and teenagers. Only slightly more than half are older than 13.

Part of the Roblox children’s metaverse are marketplaces where users, creators and advertisers trade with each other. You can trade accessories and clothing for your avatar, 3D models of vehicles and buildings, and even complex game elements that can be integrated into your own experiences. All trading is done using the in-game currency Robux. There is also a Talent Hub where jobs are advertised in both dollars and Robux.

Roblox can be used to describe the economy of digital games in platform capitalism. Roblox provides the infrastructure, a development environment and a payment system. The production of content is outsourced to the players and creators, making their creative activity and attention the core of the platform’s business model.

The talk will introduce Roblox and its business model. Emerging questions about the economics of digital gaming by children and young people in digital platform capitalism will be discussed. But what perspective do children and young people have on this economy and what knowledge do children and young people have about the economy behind Roblox? What practices of creating and not creating their own content and of buying and not buying are they developing? To get closer to answering these questions, the first results of an ongoing interview study with 10-17 year old Roblox players will be presented.


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