Know an eco-savvy kid who likes to play games online? Point her in the direction of MiniMonos, a new virtual world for green kids.
MiniMonos — or little monkeys — gives kids the opportunity to create their own monkey avatars and embark on living in an environmentally conscious world. The main goal of the site is to teach kids the core green values of sustainability, generosity and community, but without being preachy or coming across like a giant animated lesson.
Going green is embedded into the game, so kids understand that if they don't recycle, their treehouses will get messy; or if they don't clean the lagoon, the fish will leave and not come back. Kids learn the eco-lessons without feeling like they are learning.
By far the most unusual — and awesome — thing about Minimonos is the lack of advertising. The company founder, New Zealander Melissa Clark-Reynolds (who was trained by Al Gore to present "The Inconvenient Truth" slideshow), aims to keep Minimonos' mission of sustainability both in the game and in real life. The result is that kids aren't used as guinea pigs and they're not subjected to a bunch of ads featuring products they don't need.
How does the company stay in business? MiniMonos generates revenue from subscriptions, virtual "chips," and corporate sponsorships. With the subscriptions, kids can pay for a membership that allows them to customize the color of their monkey's T-shirts and get special items for their treehouse, as well as a few other perks and privileges. Same goes for the Banana Chips that kids can buy to purchase things within the game. The money used from membership subscription and "chips" goes toward doing good in the real world, providing clean water for kids in India, protecting orphan orangutans, and supporting the World Wildlife Fund's tiger campaign.
Since its launch in 2009, MiniMonos has grown into an online community of more than 87,000 members from 150 countries. The team anticipates breaking the 100,000 mark by April.