Lua Programming for Roblox: Introducing children to programming

What is Lua?

Lua is a lightweight, efficient, and powerful scripting language that is often used in video game development, embedded systems, and other applications. It was developed in 1993 and has gained recent popularity as the main scripting language of the popular game platform and game creation system Roblox. Lua programming is a good entry point for beginners to appreciate basic software development concepts and get immediate satisfaction in developing simple computer games through the Roblox platform. In the Philippines, where Roblox is very popular amongst the youth, Lua can be a good path to encouraging children to learn how to program their own mini-games and eventually explore a career in custom software development. Below is a quick introduction to Lua and how it can be used to make simple games in Roblox Studio.

Hello World in Lua Programming

Let’s start with the traditional “Hello World” program:

print("Hello World!")

This program uses the print() function to output a message to the console.

Lua Variables

In Lua, you can declare variables using the local keyword. Here is an example:

local name = "Alice"
local age = 25
local isMarried = false

print(name, age, isMarried)

This program declares three variables: name, age, and isMarried. The print() function is used to output the values of these variables to the console.

Control Structures

Lua supports several control structures, such as if, for, and while. Here are some examples:

if statement

local age = 25

if age >= 18 then
  print("You are an adult.")
  print("You are not an adult.")

This program checks whether the age variable is greater than or equal to 18. If it is, the program prints “You are an adult.” Otherwise, it prints “You are not an adult.”

for loop

for i = 1, 10 do

This program uses a for loop to print the numbers from 1 to 10. The loop runs for 10 iterations, with the i variable taking on the values 1, 2, 3, and so on.

while loop

local i = 1

while i <= 10 do
  i = i + 1

This program uses a while loop to achieve the same result as the for loop above. The loop runs until the i variable reaches 10, with the i variable incremented by 1 on each iteration.


Lua allows you to define functions using the function keyword. Here is an example:

function add(x, y)
  return x + y

local sum = add(3, 5)

This program defines a function named add that takes two arguments and returns their sum. The sum variable is assigned the result of calling the add function with arguments 3 and 5. The program then prints the value of sum.

Lua Programming in Roblox

To start, install Roblox Studio on your computer. Roblox Studio is a free game development software that allows you to create games and other experiences for the Roblox platform.

To start programming in Lua, you first need to create a new Roblox game project in Roblox Studio. Once you have created a new game project, you can open the Lua editor by clicking on the “Script” button in the “Home” tab of the “Roblox Studio” window. This will open a new Lua script file in the script editor.

Basic Syntax of Lua

Lua is a high-level scripting language that is easy to learn and understand. Here is a brief overview of some of the basic syntax used in Lua:

  • Comments are preceded by two dashes (–).
  • Variables are defined using the assignment operator (=).
  • Control structures like if-then statements and loops are used to control the flow of the program.
  • Lua has a number of built-in data types, including strings, numbers, and booleans.

Example: Creating a Simple Game

Now that we have a basic understanding of the syntax used in Lua, let’s create a simple game. In this example, we will create a game where the player has to click on moving objects to score points.

  1. First, create a new “Part” object in the “Explorer” window by right-clicking on the “Workspace” object and selecting “Create Part”. This will be the object that the player has to click on.
  2. Next, create a new Lua script by clicking on the “Script” button in the “Home” tab of the “Roblox Studio” window.
  3. Inside the script editor, add the following code:
-- Create a new variable to store the player's score
local score = 0

-- Create a new function that will be called when the player clicks on the part
local function onClicked()
    -- Increase the player's score
    score = score + 1

-- Connect the onClicked function to the part's "Clicked" event
  1. Finally, save the Lua script and run the game. You should now be able to click on the part object to score points.

In this example, we created a new variable to store the player’s score and a new function that is called when the player clicks on the part object. We then connected the function to the part object’s “Clicked” event so that it is called whenever the player clicks on the object.

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