Teens take a million metaverse Ryanair flights in Roblox
They do this in their free time
Of all the things parents might suspect their little darlings of doing on game creation platform Roblox, replicating Ryanair flights likely isn't one.
And yet here they are, checking in luggage, queuing at security, wading through duty free, and grabbing a dirty burger before making the arduous trek to the gate, where there is, lo and behold, more queuing.
The blocky little avatars then board a faithfully rendered Ryanair jet, replete with cabin crew performing safety routines and unappetizing in-flight grub. The flight supposedly even takes the players on a seaside Potemkin holiday.
The Ryanair-themed "experience" (as Roblox games are termed) has proved so popular that the teens behind it recently celebrated their millionth flight.
For the adults among us who are all too familiar with the budget Irish airline's unsophisticated take on commercial aviation, the fixation on Ryanair may seem an odd choice. Yet everyone needs a hobby.
Sebastian Coddling, 19, who is studying computer science at the University of Aberdeen, started work on the simulation in 2015 without the airline's permission.
"I was young. I had no idea about copyright. But we just suddenly developed an interest in aviation," he told The Times.
"We replicate things that the real airline would do and provide soft skills to people such as web development and teaching them about aviation as well.
"We do things like pack people into the aircraft, little legroom, and make them pay for some extras."
Rounding out the authentic Ryanair experience, Coddling also admitted that arguments between travelers and staff were customary.
The airline is such a notorious spendthrift that it once "joked" about charging passengers to use the bathroom. However, noises out of CEO Michael O'Leary suggest that the only barrier to genuinely implementing the policy is a logistical one.
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Yet the kids behind the metaverse version seem to take their roles seriously and harbor a strange fondness for Ryanair. Rachel Knight, 16, "human resources manager" for the project, started out as cabin crew – a career she hopes to pursue in meatspace.
"It's a rigorous training process. First of all is safety emergency procedures training, which is four days. And then I did a ten-day training [for cabin crew]," she told the paper, adding that one of Roblox Ryanair's goals is to "tackle the stereotype of Ryanair flights not going very well."
For this parent, at least, no amount of alleged "soft skills" will persuade me to allow my kids on Roblox. While the game is free to play, children take a certain joy in customizing their avatars with cosmetic items, which are purchased for a premium currency, "Robux." Access to the Builders Club, the game creation module, also requires a membership fee.
There are plenty of cautionary tales out there about kids running up bills into the thousands for pixelated meta-tat, so we recommend keeping your credit card locked down.
Also, Roblox just... looks so bad. After a lifetime gaming, we struggle to see the appeal when there are so many brilliant, professionally developed titles out there – including ones that can encourage kids into computer science.
Clearly, there's no accounting for taste, but apparently even Ryanair is cool now, so we're already way out of touch. ®