Popular gaming platform Roblox is under scrutiny over so-called “condo games” that could expose young users to naked figures, simulated sex and crude language. Operators of Roblox say the platform, which enables people to program their own games and play games created by others, is used by at least half of American kids under age 16.
“Condo videos are basically, um, they’re like the dark side of Roblox,” 19-year-old user Dylan Lemus-Olson told CBS News consumer investigative correspondent Anna Werner.
Lemus-Olson goes by “Dazzely” on Roblox. In his YouTube channel videos, he looks at “condo games” or “condo videos,” which he called the “bad side” of the platform. He claims many of these videos had been removed from YouTube, with copyright infringement listed as the reason.
Roblox is often played on a smartphone, tablet or laptop, and enables kids to create themselves as virtual characters and explore different environments, pretend they are superheroes, raise pets and even invent their own games.
Some of these games, according to an article published in Fast Company, are written in computer code that bypasses Roblox’s child safety filters. That results in “condo videos” — images of naked characters who simulate sex acts and use crude language in accompanying online chats.
“Roblox has made a world where kids can build whatever they want and with condo games, what they want is to be much more grown-up than I think anyone imagines they would try,” Fast Company Editor at Large Burt Helm said.
Helm had been looking into “condo games” for several months. He compared them to a house party “where the parents are out of town.”
“But the most shocking thing is that you see characters that are naked, and you see that kids have coded ways for these characters to have sex,” he said.
Aside from that, Helm said he found some users even going as far as trying to get kids to start separate, private conversations with them on a different app.
“And you don’t know if someone is actually an adult pretending to be a child or with very bad intentions,” he said.
Roblox declined an on-camera interview request but said it has “no tolerance for inappropriate content or behavior”. The company said it has “a stringent safety system in place,” including monitoring content created by users, acting quickly on reports of inappropriate content and continually evolving its defense systems.
However, “condo games” may not be where the issues end: Louisiana mom Deranda Bordelon said she was playing a regular Roblox game called “Adopt Me!” with her 8-year-old daughter when someone grabbed the mother’s character and took it to bed to simulate a sex act.
“She snatched me back up, and now she’s doin’ stuff to me,” Bordelon said in a video recording of the incident.
Bordelon recounted the incident to CBS News.
“All of a sudden she brought me to this other room and took her clothes off and was asking me to take my clothes off and just all kind of, you know, adult stuff that shouldn’t be for kids,” she said.
“It’s not appropriate for kids. I’m very disappointed in the game,” her fiance Jason Handley added.
The game platform said it is investigating Bordelon’s report. The developers of “Adopt Me!” said they take the safety of players seriously and adhere to Roblox’s set of stringent safety protocols, and pledge to take swift action against any player who breaks the rules.
Roblox did not comment on Lemus-Olson’s video removals but says it reports any suspected child exploitation to authorities.