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Kids Flock to Roblox for Parties and Playdates During Lockdown

With schools closed, the gaming site offers kids a socially interactive alternative to YouTube 

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Illustration: Chris Harnan

In early March, Robby Scianna was supposed to take 10 friends to an escape room to celebrate his 10th birthday. Then his school closed, and his home town of Campbell, California, went into lockdown due to the coronavirus. So Robby had a virtual birthday party in Roblox instead.

The invitees logged into Google Hangouts first, where they chatted and sang “Happy Birthday.” Then all the kids jumped into Roblox for an hour or so and played Epic Minigames, an array of competitions featuring things like pet penguins and dodgeball. Much laughter and giddiness ensued. “It would have been better if we were able to do a real birthday party, but a virtual birthday party was still pretty fun,” Robby said.