Half childhood reminiscence, half description of Roblox:
As you can probably tell by the fact that my teenage years overlapped with the subprime mortgage housing crisis, I am too old to have had a childhood in Roblox—although I did spend considerable time in other online social worlds like Neopets, Avidgamers, Gaia Online, and later, Second Life. Even as a kid, I was interested in the history of these places. I would spend hours reading through old forum posts, looking at discarded roleplaying threads, finding unlinked pages and trying to break into accounts with lost logins; excavating the strata of what had been, while more was happening all around me.
It was the artist and game developer V Buckenham who first suggested I might be interested in Roblox. We made accounts (I later learned that changing your username is in itself a microtransaction, so, too proud to pay, I am still stuck with the hastily picked name “xX66demonslayer66Xx”) and poked around a few worlds. In one of the very first games we played together (a work-in-progress safari game, the link to which I have since lost), V became a zebra, and I was a lioness. We ran around a broad plain populated by other animals, trees in the distance, low clouds overhead, and the buzzing of insects on a 2-minute loop. The chat was full of messages from prey to prey, predator to predator. V was almost immediately killed by a cheetah who then got in the chat to say, “Overyone come to pr,” “theres meat.” Summoned, I did so, and as I ate the still-living digital body of my friend in the company of a stranger in the shape of a wild dog, I thought, “Oh. This is special.”