A mother has warned parents to delete a popular online game from their children’s phones, tablets and consoles after a young girl’s avatar was “violently gang-raped” while playing.
Amber Petersen shared a distressing account of her daughter’s experience on the iPad version of Roblox, which saw her character being attacked by two males – and then a female.
Sky News has chosen not to show screenshots of the incident shared by Ms Peterson, who described it as “horrific” and “traumatising”.
At least one of the attackers – who the developer of the game told Sky News has now been banned – appears to have used the game’s extensive creation tools to carry out the assault in a sexually explicit manner.
Ms Peterson wrote on Facebook: “Words cannot describe the shock, disgust, and guilt that I am feeling right now, but I’m trying to put those feelings aside so I can get this warning out to others as soon as possible.
“I am shuddering to think of what kind of damage this image could have on her psyche, as well as any other child that could potentially be exposed to this.”
She warned other parents and carers to delete the game from their children’s devices, with it currently available on Apple and Android phones and tablets, Amazon Kindles, Xbox One consoles, and PCs and Macs.
The developer of Roblox describes it as “the best place to imagine with friends”, boasting the “largest user-generated online gaming platform” in the world, with more than 15 million unique games and activities created by its players.
It all takes place in a “family-friendly, immersive, 3D environment”, the Roblox website adds.
Ms Peterson’s post has been shared more than 6,000 times and commented on by hundreds of horrified parents.
One of the comments, claiming to be “from a guy who plays lots of video games pretty much every day”, accused Roblox of having “one of the most toxic gaming communities out there”.
A spokesman for the developer told Sky News they were “outraged” by the incident and had suspended the game.
“We were outraged to learn that Roblox’s community policies and rules of conduct were subverted,” they said.
“We have identified how this bad actor created the offending action and are putting additional safeguards in place to reduce the possibility of this happening again in the future.
“In addition, the offender was identified and has been permanently banned from the platform and we have suspended the game.
“We have zero tolerance for this behaviour. Our work to ensure a safe platform is always evolving and remains a top priority for us.”
Roblox – which launched in 2004 and has been compared to the mega-hit Minecraft – is said to have 64 million active players, many of which are children.
In Europe, including the UK, it has a PEGI (Pan European Game Information) age rating of 7+, while in the US it has a 10+ rating from the ESRB (Entertainment Software Rating Board).