MiniMonos, a social networking and gaming site for kids, has announced their official launch on April 1st. The destination is unique in its aim to foster kids and provide them with meaningful play experiences. More after the jump.
MiniMonos is essentially a virtual world for kids as young as 8 years old who love the planet. These kids play and socialize online but also institute recycling programs at their schools and pressure their parents to make eco-friendly choices. Based in New Zealand, MiniMonos has garnered over 125,000 members from around the globe, mostly from the United States.
On April 1st MiniMonos will have a week long launch party and let players adopt 2 orangutans. MiniMonos means ‘little monkeys’ in Spanish and refers to the in-game activities available. Children can create monkey avatars, decorate their virtual treehouses, make friends with other players and also play eco-themed games. MiniMonos isn’t aiming to tack concepts like ‘sustainability’ on top of gameplay but to make it part of the gameplay. For example, kids can play the recycling game that keeps their treehouse tidy or collect compost from the TicTacPoo game to level up in the Grow game.
Since its alpha release in 2009, MiniMonos has consistently tied virtual behaviour to real-world results:
- Supplied clean water for kids in India with every purchase on MiniMonos or download of iPhone app
- Adopted two orangutans through Orangutan Outreach
- Partnered with WWF-NZ in support of the WWF’s international Tiger Initiative, a program to double the world’s wild tiger population by 2022, the next Year of the Tiger
- And, most recently, launched the MiniMonos EcoMonkey program to provide kids with in-world rewards for real-world eco-actions like setting up recycling programs at their schools.
This event takes place April 1-7 on MiniMonos.com to celebrate kids and the planet. We hope you check it out. In addition there are other virtual properties that also offer real world benefits. ArboPals is an online world for kids with a conservation focus – when you subscribe or buy merchandise they plant trees. Another is EcoBuddies which “offers children the opportunity to learn about earth sciences in a fun, interactive manner” although apart from the learning aspect, I don’t think they’re involved in taking real-world action).
Some virtual worlds for kids (ie, Club Penguin) have a donation aspect to them where they support projects, and some an education aspect (www.wiglingtonandwenks.com “learn about history, geography and environment in a fun way”, or Animal Jam by National Geographic), however going to the extent of fully integrating real world activity with their virtual world is very rare because it adds a whole new layer to the running of the site.