Grandma enters the Metaverse

All my Australian grandkids go to school now, and it’s a new era which takes some getting used to. My strategy to stay involved and connected with my grandchildren has been to immerse myself in the metaverse (not the real physical world), specifically the virtual realm of Roblox, an interactive form of storytelling and social networking that kids today are mastering.

The first step was to invest in an iPad Air (my first ever Apple product) and plunge in. It hasn’t been easy, but I have persisted and it’s starting to pay dividends.

Next I researched a few elementary Roblox tips and tricks to get me started.

Grandma’s Avatar

From the Roblox HOME page I searched for games for total beginners so I could practice movement and navigation: simple games like the Purple Jump Mat or Really easy Obby Parkour!

Once you are in a game, you can go to settings for help on how to get your avatar to move around and perform actions.

Virtual directional pads drive character movement. A circular button, visible on the lower left of the screen, operates like a virtual joystick – touch it and drag it in any direction.

The camera pans or rotates to change the avatar’s vantage point – hold and move finger around anywhere on lower right side of the iPad screen – near the jump button. Camera rotation makes navigation easier.

With some of the simple beginner games from the Roblox HOME page I stumbled upon how I could move my character more effectively – using the camera rotation feature to line up my avatar so the joystick button and my avatar are in better sync. The joystick button compass orientation is then ready for easy movement adjustments. For example, North for straight ahead, East for right, West for left and South for backwards. This solved a riddle for me – as I watched my young granddaughters using left and right hands simultaneously, I wondered what purpose their right hands were achieving. It hadn’t dawned on me that they were constantly adjusting their avatars’ orientation. I thought the camera adjustment was something you did occasionally.

The Jump button on lower right of screen always seems to be in view. Not only does it move the character over hurdles, but it also is used to jump off a seat or out of a vehicle. It is sometimes necessary to get the character started in a game.

Now we all know there are some bad characters out there in the metaverse, so it is advisable to use some of the parental controls. In some cases, it may be necessary to disable the in-game chat function or to use the player-list to report abusive users with the “report concern button”. The last thing you want is for your child to be enticed to give out their address, or any other private information.  

Playing with my grandkids is very rewarding. I especially enjoy Themepark Tycoon, Escape Hotel Obby and Welcome to Bloxburg. My precious girls build me houses, drive me around in their cars and take me for stomach churning themepark rides – with the camera toggled for an adrenaline pumping view. Their own virtual houses are mansions. My eldest granddaughter has a separate tiny house out the back where she can entrap you and hold you prisoner – the door which cannot be opened from the inside has a window through which she can spy on you. Unsuspecting grandparents are easy prey.

Jumping obstacles is an acquired skill I haven’t yet grasped. But Fashion Show games are perfect for moving around practice. I was stunned when I was voted first in my first fashion show game – it wouldn’t have happened except for the boost my granddaughter’s 5-star vote gave me.

It will take a while for an old gal like me to truly get the hang of kid tech. Children today are born into it and they move around the metaverse effortlessly. Their character movements are spectacular. But I am persisting and while my progress is incremental, my iPad Air is a wonderful investment. Instead of feeling out of touch with our young generation, I feel as if I am a valued Roblox ‘friend’ when they invite me to join their games.

Published by julzlovell

Researcher, Educator, Planet Lover, Grandmother who accepts the science of climate change. Drawing on life experiences and a background in Economics and Geography to share my opinions, stories, follies, gratitude and hope.

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