Roblox walks back statements that children earning money is a ‘gift’ and not exploitation of labor


Roblox’s PR department has found itself in the unenviable position of providing cover for some dumb nonsense an executive said at GDC this year. During an interview with Eurogamer, Roblox Studio head Stefano Corazza attempted to argue that earning money from and paying creators a portion of those earnings for games crafted on the platform is actually a benefit and not exploitation of child labor as many industry watchers have argued.

Here’s the quote from Corazza in its entirety to provide complete context:

“Like, you can say, ‘Okay, we are exploiting, you know, child labor,’ right? Or, you can say: we are offering people anywhere in the world the capability to get a job, and even like an income. So, I can be like 15 years old, in Indonesia, living in a slum, and then now, with just a laptop, I can create something, make money and then sustain my life.

“There’s always the flip side of that, when you go broad and democratised – and in this case, also with a younger audience. I mean, our average game developer is in their 20s. But of course, there’s people that are teenagers – and we have hired some teenagers that had millions of players on the platform.

“For them, you know, hearing from their experience, they didn’t feel like they were exploited! They felt like, ‘Oh my god, this was the biggest gift, all of a sudden I could create something, I had millions of users, I made so much money I could retire.’ So I focus more on the amount of money that we distribute every year to creators, which is now getting close to like a billion dollars, which is phenomenal.”

A day after the interview went to print, Roblox gave a lengthy statement that attempted to reel back some of Corazza’s suggestions, claiming that its game-building toolset is mostly geared towards education, that polled creators are motivated by the fun of making games instead of monetization, and that 90% of games that have monetization are operated by those 18 years of age and up, with the average age for top-earning developers sitting around 25 years old.

“Our developer and creator community includes individuals with a wide spectrum of professional capabilities and team sizes, ranging from young students and independent hobbyists, all the way to full-time studios,” reads part of the official statement. “Roblox is also an educational tool and education has been part of the company’s DNA since day one.”

source: Eurogamer
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