Matthew (left) and Nathan Dean

A part-time job in college can go a long way towards paying off loans and having some cash on the weekend. For two University of Illinois at Springfield twins, their part-time jobs means developing video games. And it pays a whole lot better than bar tending.

Matthew and Nathan Dean, 21-year-old brothers from Springfield, are creating games on an interactive gaming platform called Roblox, which help kids and teens learn the art of coding and game development. The two first started playing games on Roblox in 2009, but quickly began building games on their own. They’ve created a game called Trade Hangout, where people in Roblox can socialize online and haggle over virtual items than can be bought with Roblox currency called Robux. When a player purchases an item with Robux, it can be exchanged for real money by the developer, earning some game creators upwards of $100,000.

Matthew and Nathan’s Trade Hangout has been played more than five million times, and the two have earned more than $30,000 combined, with more Robux that still needs cashing out, they said.

“A lot of users get interested in [Roblox] because they like to play other people’s games,” Nathan said. “But once you start playing for a while and figure things out, you can go in and create you own games. You can create any sort of game you can imagine.

“One of the advantages of Roblox is it has done a lot of the setup and networking for you. You don’t have to pay for your own servers. You can have 1 or 5,000 people on your game and it doesn’t cost you anything to do that.”

Trade Hangout Screengrab

Roblox launched in 2006 and began its Developer’s Exchange in October 2013, which allowed users to exchange Robux for US dollars. Developers with at least 100,000 Robux and a valid Paypal account could exchange Robux at a 500 to 1 trade ratio.

Matthew and Nathan performed so well on the site that Roblox offered them internships at its San Mateo, CA headquarters, where the twins have worked the past two summers. The brothers said they both plan to continue using the service, and assist other developers on how to get the most of of their games.

“Roblox is not only a great place to make games, but to learn to program in general,” Nathan said. “A lot of kids have gone on from Roblox to pursue computer science in high school and study it in college, and have a career in software development. It’s a place to have fun, but you’re also learning skills that are really valuable in the future.”

 Image courtesy of Martha Dean