Moshi Monsters: a Growing, Educational Virtual World for Kids

One part educational, one part social, and two parts pet-caring game, virtual world Moshi Monsters, from Mind Candy, has been seeing solid growth since launching in 2008. It now has more than 12 million total registered users, with especially strong numbers in the last 9 months, chief executive Michael Smith tells us.

Here’s a closer look.

The basic play of Moshi Monsters is familiar enough. Players create an avatar based on half a dozen templates, customize their coloring, and are tasked with caring for their new monstrous companion. Like in Playfish’s Pet Society, the user must feed and keep their monster healthy and happy. Of course, since these are “monsters” and not “pets,” they are treated a bit differently, and as it seems, lack of bathing is one such difference.

Hygiene aside, players improve said stats by feeding it various monster-themed foods and, well, buying it stuff. In tandem with this, the critter’s mood will change as well, resulting in different demeanors and random commentary that is spoken in a Sims-like gibberish.

This leads to the core point of Moshi Monsters, which is the decoration of your own virtual house. The space is a simple 2D flat that is more or less the same as that in Pet Society style games, and like said games, it can be viewed and visited by other players.

When other players visit you, they are capable of leaving friendly messages on a little post board for viewing whenever a user next logs in. Players can also send each other gifts as well, which, as you’d expect, can consist of decorative furniture, food, etc. Unfortunately, in order to send anything, one has to sign up for membership.

Luckily, there was still enough to see and do to get a good idea of what was going on in this virtual monster town. Among the various streets are a myriad of shops to see and visit. Most sell foods or furniture for your house, but what is most noticeable is the level of detail that went into everything.

Tthis level of polish is worth noting. Most everything you see in Moshi Monsters adds to the believability of this digital world. Whether it is your avatar commenting on something you pass by, startling an construction worker by clicking on them, or watching a little creature fly up and eat your mouse pointer during the loading screen, there is something that most everyone will remember seeing after a few minutes of play.

Of course, should players play longer than a few minutes, they will begin to level up via a handful of means. Experience towards each level is gained primarily by buying stuff for your home, but players get the largest boost from a range of mini-games from what is called the “Puzzle Palace.” Each of these games can be played as much as you like, and consist of simple educational games that vary from math to spelling. However, the one that earns the most reward – in both experience and the in-game currency, Rox – is the Daily Challenge that sticks together a random assortment of all the puzzle games.

The game has also recently introduced a couple new features to take advantage of its community. One is printable trading cards, showing users stats — this is an offline way to make the game more relevant to kid’s lives. Another new feature is a “Games Starcade” shop, where users can by virtual arcade games to put in their rooms. Friends who visit the room can then play the arcade game.

For a kids game, Moshi Monsters is a wonderful creation. Frankly, the only complaint is that it really does push the membership in the fact that about half the content is limited to a $6.00 a month membership. Obviously, it’s not really the cost that raises a question but the fact that players don’t really have the full picture regarding what they are purchasing (in the locked areas).

Frankly, if you’re looking for a good kids game that’s both fun, and might even teach them something, than Moshi Monsters is certainly one worth a look.