A community-driven gaming platform Roblox is seemingly struggling to contain recreations of mass shooting incidents arising on the platform. Despite depicting one of the most violent acts of religious hatred, these particular recreations prove especially troublesome, as the platform mainly caters to younger players and children.
For over a year, Anti-Defamation League researcher Daniel Kelley has been finding the horrific and troublesome recreations of New Zealand’s Christchurch mass shooting on Roblox, a game platform aimed at very young children. According to IGN, Kelley reportedly found several of these recreations by simply searching the platform using “Christchurch” as the search keyword. He took it to Twitter, where he expressed his concern, stating that he would like to search for “Christchurch” on Roblox and not find the recreation of the 2019 mosque shooting. You can check his Tweet below:
Roblox, a game creation system and gaming platform, said it proactively scans the platform for terrorist content, paying special attention to recreations of mass shootings or other hate-inspired acts of violence. However, the references to the Christchurch incident are difficult to filter using automated systems, as they could block other, legitimate, and fair references to the city with the same name. Additionally, Roblox’s proactive detection also includes a human review of gaming experiences, but its effectiveness is less than ideal, which doesn’t stop a number of recreations from infringing on the platform’s Community Rules – which clearly prohibit these types of recreations.
And though their detection methods aren’t as fast as the community would like them to be, Roblox wastes no time in removing the infringing gaming experiences from the platform as soon as they get reported. In addition, the company’s statement reiterates that Roblox doesn’t tolerate racism, discriminatory speech, or content related to tragic events. In the end, Roblox did list community moderation issues as a potential risk to their business in their Initial Public Offering filing. But the business aspect of Roblox isn’t as worrying as the fact that the platform could become a vector for radicalization.
As a gaming platform in which users create and share proprietary scenarios, Roblox also acts as a social platform that can give refuge to various players with different levels of engagement with hateful ideologies. Every space, physical or virtual, that allows the veneration of hateful ideologies contributes to their normalization and spread. The toxic workplace culture that was bred at Activision Blizzard is a very good example of the normalization of damaging ideologies within a company.
Humans tend to be very susceptible to suggestions given enough exposure, and this is particularly true for children and young adults. So much, in fact, that it could border with indoctrination. So the supposed normalization and spread of hateful ideologies on a gaming platform that’s played by more than half the children under 16, in the U.S. alone, is very troublesome.
But Roblox is not the first time a video game unintentionally brushed shoulders with acts of violence against other ethnic or religious groups. Just a few months back, Muslim groups demanded that the video game Six Days in Fallujah be banned from sales, calling it an “Arab murder simulator,” that reinforces Islamophobic narratives already broadly present in the gaming industry.