Saturday, September 6, 2008

Moshi Monsters - a safe world for kids

Mind Candy, the parent company of Moshi Monsters, seems very concerned with your child’s safety. They even go so far as to keep an eye on your monster’s pinboard, where your, in - game, friends can leave you messages. These messages go through two levels of moderation before they are release to the child member. The rules states that a member may not give out personal information such as name, address, telephone number or any other critical information that might identify the member child. The more popular you make your monster, and the more friends you have, the better chance your monster will become Monstar of the Week.

Members adopt their own Monster and keep it happy by solving daily puzzles that are sent to each player. Monster owners can interact with their pets by tickling them, playing games, shopping, designing their rooms, and shortly by dressing them up. One core element being promoted for Moshi Monsters is the ability to build an emotional bond between the user and their Monster, which is achieved through flash animation and a complex behavioral engine. Monsters develop their own unique personalities depending on how well, or badly, they’ve been treated. Players can connect and communicate with others through the Friends Tree, visits to other Monster rooms, Monster blogs, Newsfeeds, and a messaging system. This site is totally geared towards kids, so online safety is a top priority and the Moshi Monsters team monitors site activity to make sure it remains safe. The more attention a Monster gets from its owner and their friends, the higher its Monstar status rises. All Monsters start as Z-Listers and can rise through the ranks to become A-List Monstars. Moshi Monsters is played in the browser and requires no download. The game is free to play, although a subscription feature for premium elements will launch in the future, as well a range of offline products.

In reviewing this kiddie virtual world, the first thing PG noticed was the instructional tour had the monsters talking in an “alien” language with the words written in English on the screen. This makes it very difficult for young children to play as reading ability is required. Another action that limits age groups is the daily puzzles and working at the Power Plant. Obviously, this website is targeted to an age group of 6 to 14 years old. There seems to be a genuine concern for child online safety. And that's a good thing! not a scary thing ....

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