In a unique and innovative show of support for Palestine, Roblox players have harnessed the power of the virtual world to stage online protests against Israel’s occupation. With in-person protests often limited by distance and safety concerns, a user-created experience on the Roblox platform has emerged as an unexpected avenue for activism.
Named “(PALESTINE) Dataran tanjung mas,” this virtual space, crafted by a Malaysian gamer known as cikguzyd, has rapidly gained traction. The experience, which explicitly states, “This map is made for Palestine solidarity,” has welcomed over 27,000 visitors since its inception on Oct. 14, 2023.
@devotedly.yours Kids in Malaysia are protesting on Roblox for a free Palestine#palestine ♬ original sound – kurd
Videos circulating on TikTok and X showcase large gatherings of players inside the Roblox environment, wielding Palestinian flags and participating in organized prayers and protests led by cikguzyd, who passionately chants in Arabic.
Upon entering this virtual arena, players have the option to choose either the Malaysian or Palestinian flag to carry, and a prominent Palestinian flag graces the entrance, floating on a moat surrounding a central community square. The waters bear the inscription, “We love Palestine,” while large banners in the square read “Solidarity untukmu Palestine,” or “Solidarity for you Palestine,” accompanied by the date, Oct. 21, 2023.
One striking feature is a donation board that lists contributors and the amounts they’ve donated. However, the ultimate destination of these donations remains uncertain. Remarkably, the top donor for October has contributed 2,250 Robux, roughly equivalent to US$28, though most donations are smaller denominations of 10 and 50 Robux.
Roblox’s reputation as a platform designed for children might lead to assumptions that these virtual protesters are predominantly young. However, the reality is more nuanced. While Roblox has historically been popular among a younger demographic, its core user base is gradually aging. In 2022, an average of 67 million users logged onto Roblox daily, with 22 percent falling within the 17 to 24 age group, making this the platform’s fastest-growing demographic.
It appears that safety concerns, limited access to transportation, or the inability to drive have driven some to participate in these digital protests. Given the evolving demographic of Roblox users, it’s likely that participants range from teenagers to individuals in their early twenties.
The health ministry in Gaza, which is governed by Hamas, has said at least 5,791 Palestinians, including 2,360 children, have been killed amid the conflict with Israel.