With more than 150 million users, Roblox is the No. 1 video game site for kids and teens. JDRF One World is part of a campaign from the game-focused charity JDRF Game2Give, organized in 2019 by prominent game developers who have children with type 1 diabetes. The effort is aimed at raising awareness and supporting work to find a cure for the disease, which strikes one in 400 children.
To visit JDRF One World, you need to set up a free Roblox account on your computer, phone, or tablet. Since the pandemic has nixed all in-person charity events, JDRF Game2Give has organized game bundles and charity streams. (It also has other campaigns in the pipeline.)
The game executives behind this project include former Telltale Games CEO Dan Connors, former Kongregate chief business officer Josh Larson, and Tilt Five COO Hans ten Cate. Larson is the director of JDRF Game2Give. I interviewed him and Connors about their experience having children with type 1 diabetes, and you’ll find their stories below.
“Gaming has stretched across so many platforms,” Larson said in an interview with GamesBeat. “With COVID-19, gaming has been this avenue for people to connect. And connecting people that have the shared interests of gaming and also a personal connection to type 1 diabetes is really powerful. I am really impressed and proud of the games industry, as it has stepped up this year.”
One of the group’s goals is to educate people about the difficulties of dealing with the disease. More than 1.6 million Americans have Type 1 diabetes, and 38 million adults and children worldwide. Although people can make lifestyle changes to help manage the disease, there is no cure at this time.
Inside the world of Roblox
CEO inside Roblox
Above: JDRF CEO Aaron Kowalski inside Roblox
Image Credit: Roblox
The launch is timed for the start of National Diabetes Awareness Month, and Roblox’s huge reach can help bring attention to the cause.
“We are inspired by how JDRF is reimagining its One Walk inside the Roblox metaverse, bringing people from around the world together to support such a worthy cause,” Roblox VP Tami Bhaumik said in an email to GamesBeat. “We’ve been humbled by how the Roblox platform can support those in need and will continue to look for ways to provide an opportunity for the community to come together to give back.”
JDRF kicked off the project with developer MelonDev about six weeks ago. There’s a JDRF One Walk experience that lets you walk inside the virtual world. The robux generator 2020 developers also created a bunch of minigames, including a maze, a race, trivia about diabetes, a parkour course, tug-of-war, and a scavenger hunt. Each minigame can be played with one to five players.
Prizes include JDRF shirts, hats, capes, glasses, and the Rufus bear. The mascot bear is also given out to kids who have been newly diagnosed. The group spends nearly $200 million a year on diabetes research and has challenged its community to walk 1.6 million miles and raise $50 million to find a cure. Other games, including World Golf Tour, have also helped fund research.
JDRF CEO Aaron Kowalski will be on hand inside the Roblox world to greet people. Both Connors and Larson said advances in continuous glucose monitors, like the Dexcom G6, have made life easier. I tried that glucose monitor, which is a critical piece of equipment for those with diabetes, so I could see the impact my diet has on my blood sugar. I found it deeply informative.
While I appreciated what I learned from the monitor, people with diabetes rely on it for life-or-death decisions in the day-to-day management of their health. With diabetes, the body loses its ability to produce insulin, a hormone normally produced by the pancreas to remove sugar from a person’s blood. Untreated, type 1 diabetes can result in organ damage, coma, or even death.
The newest glucose monitors, which check the sugar level in your blood at any given moment, can be attached to your body and aren’t as cumbersome as they used to be. They can be connected to insulin pumps, with apps that monitor your blood sugar level, and deliver life-saving insulin if needed. Without this kind of technology, calculating how much insulin to inject into a patient’s body has been a guessing game that involves hourly monitoring.
With the automated connection between the glucose monitors and insulin pumps, parents of children with type 1 diabetes can sleep through the night, Connors said, which is a game-changer for families.