Photo credit: Lacey Blamire
Lacey Blamire was 13 years old when she started managing a virtual café serving an estimated 1 million customers on the Roblox online gaming platform.
Even though her dining establishment exists only in the online community of Roblox – where half of the people who play aren’t even teenagers yet! – she is learning administrative and coding skills, as well as graphic design and 3D modeling.
Lacey hires real-life gamers as cashiers and chefs for her café. As an admin she enforces codes of conduct, and as a creator she even designs custom outfits. The Roblox in-game commerce system allows users to buy and sell virtual items—often made by the kids playing it.
While Lacey can’t earn real dollars in her business, she has earned plenty of “Robux,” or game currency, through her virtual boutique where she sells customized clothing that players can use to dress up their characters.
“It amazes me that she’s learning so many real-life things through this game,” said Lacey’s mom, Lindsay Kirsch.
Lindsay is planning to help her daughter post a portfolio of her custom designs as soon as she’s old enough to do freelance work, so hopefully she can earn some real money.
Lacey’s mom added that she can’t help but be impressed by how online opportunities have inspired her daughter to learn so many different things.
Nevertheless, because of the inherent risks in online activities, Lindsey has put rules in place to help her daughter explore the internet safely. These include monitoring usage, keeping copies of passwords, and turning off computers and other devices at night.
However, Lindsay says even risks can provide learning opportunities for children.
“I personally believe that when kids go out in the real world, I can’t protect them from everything. I try to be proactive and have these conversations ahead of time,” she said. “We look at these things as life lessons.”
Life isn’t all Roblox
Lacey first started exploring Roblox in 2020, after her mother pulled her out of public school. Lindsay said she started homeschooling Lacey and her younger daughter, Nora, now 12, in the fall semester of 2020 after growing dissatisfied with the local school district’s policies.
In addition to learning job skills, Lacey says that homeschooling has helped her thrive academically. For example, Lacey used to struggle with math until she started using a curriculum that suited her learning style, and now she’s a year ahead of where she would have been in public school.
Homeschooling has also allowed Lacey to find time to refine her dancing and gymnastics skills. She has even taken up designing virtual 3D renderings of houses. Many of these are based on floorplans from a book of home designs that Lacey’s mom bought for her.
“My go-to style is a modern farmhouse,” said Lacey.