I remember the first time I heard my daughter talking about it. I was half listening until it veered towards pure insanity.
…and then this girl was like, “Will you be my mommy?” So I said, “Fine.” Then I was her mommy and then she…
Wait. What the heck are you talking about?
That was my initial exposure to this computer game which has seemed to mesmerize all the children in my daughter’s fourth grade class. It’s basically an online world with real people controlling block-style people. From there, they can take part in activities ranging from Extreme Hide and Seek to fashion shows to surviving natural disasters. It’s a simple concept wrapped around many different scenarios.
Olivia loves it. She plays it whenever she’s given time on the iPad and will sometimes multitask by having her friends on speaker phone while they both take part in some sort of Roblox adventure. Much like she can’t understand why I watch wrestling in Japanese, I couldn’t understand her infatuation with this game. Every time she begged me to join in, I’d shrug and give the always-ready daddy answer.
No, it’s OK. You play. Maybe I will, but not now.
It didn’t seem to matter much to her. She would usually just run into the other room to adopt people or whatever she was making her block people do. She would stay in there playing for weeks on end if we let her.
I’ve dealt with my daughter wanting me to play a hip new game before, but what made this different was the fact that it wasn’t a lonely one-player experience. It was a huge open world with tons of her real life friends. She would be fine. She has her buddies. She doesn’t need me.
If my inner paranoid voice wasn’t enough to convince me of that, it was the day I heard her finish her homework from the other room. I mentally prepared for the inevitable run-in that always followed. The moment the books were put away, I always knew I’d hear the patter of her feet and her request that we do something together. So as soon as I could make out the zip of her knapsack, I waited.
Only this time, it didn’t happen. I heard the sound of Roblox music, followed by laughter, but no feet upon my office doorway. That was it. In my mind, I was on the fast lane to having a full grown tween who had outgrown the need for her dad’s attention.
I beat myself up about it for a bit, but eventually came to grips with the reality. I was happy that she had friends and even happier that she had fun with them. I had no intention of playing to begin with but now, knowing she was content without me, I could sadly let it be.
She would still tell me about Roblox, though, and went on about all the different furniture she wanted to buy for her virtual house. Apparently you earn money simply by playing. Every 15 minutes, you’re rewarded with the in-game currency, “Robux”. That’s when a block-shaped light bulb went off over my head.
Hey. So if I make a guy and just stand there, I can make money and give it to you?
Yes. But you don’t want to play.
Nah. I’ll do it.
You will? Yay! Thank you, Daddy!
So I joined Roblox. Olivia was over the moon as she helped me design my cool blue guy. I learned about all the mini-games and how to customize the entire experience. She took me to Meep City and helped set up my house. I was surprised at how excited she was to have me join her digital world.
Rather than just standing in the game and collecting money, though, I ended up doing a lot. From fighting other block people with swords to taking typing tests, there seemed to be so much to do in Roblox. It’s truly a vast experience.
Yeah, so, honestly… I still don’t love it. But my kid does and that’s what’s important.
She not only loves playing it, but loves the fact that I play it with her. She came back from school the next day and told me how she bragged to her cousin that I joined.
He can’t believe you play Roblox. He said to friend him.
I might not love the game itself, but I love that I’m able to be a part of something she loves. I understand when she explains her plans for upcoming battles or watches live streams from “Gamer Chad” on Youtube. I know the Roblox lingo and don’t have to feign interest in anything she tells me because I get it.
Still, I was convinced that I wasn’t her number one choice anymore. After all, she’s getting older. I was OK with that. A kid always wants to be around their friends more than their dumb old parents. I assumed that was true for all kids. I definitely assumed that was true for my own.
Then about a week ago, Olivia and I were having a marathon play day. We had watched I Love Lucy, played cards, made slime, and done a ton of other fun things straight from the book of fun things for nine year olds. Just as I was about to finally take a break, she asked the question she’s asked a million times.
Will you play Roblox with me?
So I responded with what I thought was a selfless answer and one that she would be happy with.
We’ve done a lot today. What about your friends? Aren’t any of them playing?
From the couch, the daughter I had sworn was practically an adult and choosing the company of her friends over me looked up. She scrunched her face up in a way that reminded me of her toddling years. Then, in the sweetest voice I had heard in a long time, said this.
I guess. They would play if I texted them. But I don’t want to play with them. I want to play with Daddy.
I almost crumbled into a heap on the floor. Within ten seconds, I was on my computer and Robloxing like a mad man.
My daughter is going to grow up eventually. I know that. She might even outgrow wanting to spend time with me for a while. But that’s not today and it won’t be because I gave up on her. Whether it’s playing video games or anything else she gravitates to, I’ll be here as long as she wants me to be.
And even when she doesn’t want me to be, I’ll always be standing by waiting for when she does.