Monster Madness

TFK talks to Michael Acton Smith, the creator of Moshi Monsters

Sep 22, 2011 | By Katherine Watkins
EMILIE FJOLA SANDY

Are you mad about Moshi Monsters? You’re not the only one! More than 50 million kids around the world are fans, too. If you don’t know about the lovable little creatures already, you will soon.

Moshi Monsters is an online world where visitors are invited to adopt virtual pet monsters. Kids can choose from six friendly creatures to raise and customize, including: a Furi, a fluffy, big-footed monster; a Katsuma, a rabbit-like animal; a Diavlo, a flying bat-like creature; a Zommer, a punk-rock zombie; a Poppet, a cute, puppy-like monster; and a Luvli, a floating heart-shaped creature.

Like any pets, Moshi Monsters need a lot of attention and care. By solving puzzle games and earning Rox, the money of Monstro City, players can buy food and build houses for their little monsters. Your Moshi Monsters can also make friends with other creatures in town and collect pets of their own, called Moshlings.

But the Moshi Monsters brand goes beyond the computer screen. There are trading cards, magazines and stuffed animals, and this fall, the Nintendo DS game Moshi Monsters: Moshling Zoo arrives in stores. TFK sat down with Michael Acton Smith, the creator of Moshi Monsters, in New York City, to chat about the inspiration behind his creatures.

TFK:

How did you come up with the idea for Moshi Monsters?

MICHAEL ACTON SMITH:

Kids love the Internet and technology, and I thought it would be an amazing place to create games. I was sitting in a coffee shop sketching away, and I came up with the first little Moshi Monster. When I was a kid, I used to have a pet rock. I looked after it and played with it, but it didn’t do much. I thought an online pet would be much more exciting. That was the start.

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TFK:

How did you go from one Moshi Monster drawing on a napkin to creating all the details of the entire Moshi Monsters world?

SMITH:

We’ve got a great creative team, so there are lots of brain-storming sessions. We built the story little by little. We named the characters and the parts of the world. We love coming up with puns. In Monstro City, you can go to YUKEA, which is like IKEA, to buy furniture. Or, you can go to the Gross-ery store, instead of the grocery store. We’ve got lots of musical monsters, like Lady Goo Goo, the Groanas Brothers and Broccoli Spears… all sorts of silly stuff like that.

TFK:

Which is your favorite Moshi Monster?

SMITH:

Of the six monsters, my favorite is probably Furi. Of the little Moshlings, I like I.G.G.Y, the purple one. He’s always sticking his tongue out and getting up to mischief.

TFK:

What’s your favorite part of the Moshi Monsters world?

SMITH:

I love the puzzles. I’m a big fan of education and of teaching kids by using games. It’s a really powerful thing. I also love the Underground Disco, where you can play dance games and listen to music. I love all the social stuff in the community, where kids can safely chat with each other and send virtual gifts.

TFK:

How does it feel to have Moshi Monsters becoming a worldwide sensation?

SMITH:

It’s a bit bewildering, really. It’s a bit weird. It was 2009 when Moshi Monsters started taking off through the roof. And now there’s one new sign-up every single second and 50 million users. It’s in 150 different countries. It has become a bit of a phenomenon.

TFK:

It started with the online world, and now it’s expanded into toys, magazines and trading cards… What’s next?

SMITH:

The launch of the Moshi toys in America, which we’re super excited about. We have some plush toys and some little collectable Moshlings. We’re working on a music album and a cartoon and a film. Ultimately, I’d love to do a theme park. We just want to grow and grow and make it as big as we can.