If you haven’t heard of Moshi Monsters, your kids probably have. Moshi Monsters is a virtual world for kids that allows users to adopt and care for their own pet monsters, and it currently boasts 29 million users across 150 countries. The site founders have recently announced $100 million projected sales for next year. The game’s creators are capitalizing on the realization that kids want to socialize online as much as adults.
Like most adults, I hadn’t even heard of Moshi Monsters until my 9 year old friend Alicia introduced me to Katsuma, who I ended up adopting shortly after. I couldn’t resist his cuteness. My very own zany monster and I have already formed an emotional bond – he seemed to be cranky when I made a deliberate mistake in a puzzle and he even told me that he was “too busy to play” one time, a consequence of being ignored for too long.
In a virtual “Monstro City” kids earn Rox, the in-game currency, by solving puzzles that increase in complexity as the kid’s skills develop. In my limited experience, the best way to get Rox is to play the games at Ooh La Lane, although in spite of a lower payout, my friend Alicia prefers solving puzzles. With educational puzzles that cover a wide range of skills including math, logic, and vocabulary, the site has enthusiastic support of many parents. Children can also use personal pinboards, blogs and ‘friends tree’ to connect with other players and take part in social networking – which might be useful before they are allowed to graduate to Facebook.
The site has been deliberately designed for short bursts, the creators didn’t want kids spending hours in a virtual world. The idea is to play a few games a day that takes about 5-10 minutes. The system is adaptable and players can move through different levels – up if they are doing well, down if they’re struggling.
Moshi Monsters is meant for children ages 6 to 9, with occasional adults like myself having some fun too. The game is available only in English and requires somewhat high level in reading skills, compared to similar Club Penguin for example. Since the monsters speak gibberish, your kids should be able to read a text box that will appear when creatures are talking.
The site’s creators make kids safety a top priority. Parents are being reassured by an extensive section on the site’s safety measures that include close moderation of forums and mandatory parental consents for children to be able to invite friends and send free form messages. The basic game is free, but some advanced features require a paid membership – but you can do a lot of cool stuff with the free sign-up.
These kinds of online games with a social networking spin are changing the way kids interact and learn for the better when done in moderation. I think it’s a fun site for kids that is both educational and safe. I definitely recommend it – you may end up enamored with your own pet monster like I did.