In the midst of the ongoing escalation between Israel and Palestine, gamers who can’t attend protests in real life are turning to digital spaces to show their support for those suffering as a result of the conflict. The latest venue? The ultra-popular tween hit Roblox.
A dramatic increase in regional violence came about after Hamas, the Islamic political and military organization that governs the Gaza Strip, launched an all-out attack against Israel on October 7, kidnapping civilians and killing around 1,400 people. In response, Israel has been ceaselessly raining bombs down upon Gaza, the cordoned-off home to over 2 million Palestinians, nearly half of whom are children. At the time of writing, the Palestinian death toll has surpassed 5,000.
On October 23, an X (formerly Twitter) user shared a post that read “y’all my cousin is 15 and couldn’t join a protest so she just went to one on roblox bro i’m crying.” In the replies, people posted footage of the Roblox protest, which boasted hundreds of players waving Palestinian flags walking down a massive, red brick road lined with more Palestinian flags. The protest ended in a large, open square, with a massive sign depicting a Palestinian flag-colored ribbon emblazoned with the words “Solitary Untukmu” (Malay for “Solidarity for you”). The Singaporean flag can also be seen, both flying high on a flagpole and being held by some of the Roblox player characters.
Roblox is an online game platform and game creation tool with blocky character models and more otherwise rudimentary graphics that encourages players to create their own “games” and then share those codes so that other people can join. It has, quite controversially, courted a rather young playerbase.
In the years since it first launched, Roblox has been accused of profiting off of child gambling, faced the ire of Kim Kardashian after an in-game, player-made experience referenced her sex tape, and been widely debated among parents as to whether or not it’s really a child-friendly game option. But now, someone has created a Roblox game that allows players to attend pro-Palestinian protests. According to the original X poster, their cousin couldn’t drive to a local protest because they are unlicensed, so they instead went to one in Roblox.
The replies to X and TikTok videos of the in-game protest are largely positive, with commenters saying “the kids are alright” and asking for the Roblox code so they can join. A Malaysian streamer who shared a video of themselves attending the protest was live on TikTok while I was working on this piece—when I asked for details in the comments he said that his friend built the game and thanked me for my support.
A spokesperson for Roblox Corporation commented:
We are deeply saddened by the horrific tragedy unfolding in Israel and Gaza, and our hearts go out to those who are impacted in the area or who have loved ones, family and friends in the region. While our Community Standards allow for expressions of solidarity, we do not allow for content that endorses or condones violence, promotes terrorism or hatred against individuals or groups, or calls for supporting a specific political party. We have an expert team of thousands of moderators along with automated detection tools in place to monitor our platform and will take swift action against any content or individuals found to be in violation of our standards. We also encourage anyone to report content or behavior that may not comply with our Community Standards by using our Report Abuse feature.
This isn’t the first time people have turned to digital spaces to take a stand—there were protests against the Russian invasion of Ukraine in Final Fantasy XIV, and Black Lives Matter protests during the height of the covid-19 pandemic in Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Elsewhere in the industry, Cult of the Lamb publisher Devolver Digital recently donated to humanitarian aid in Gaza, and Twitch streamer and political commentator Hasan Piker raised over $1 million for Palestinian relief.
Update 10/24/2023 10:35 p.m. ET: Added comment from Roblox Corp.