Millsberry is an online virtual world game created by General Mills, the food giant. The virtual world is however 2D and not 3D. Millsberry can be played online and is totally free of cost. Once a player signs up and creates an account, he or she has a variety of options to choose from- the avatar’s outward look, the clothes etc. These things can be purchased using Millsbucks, the currency form of the game. Initially every player is provided a certain sum of money, but later, the players have to earn this money by playing different mini games.
Every player’s performance in the game is judged by the following 5 factors- Health, Fitness, Intelligence, Civics and Hunger. In fact, Millsberry is a very educative game- children get to learn to open a bank account, or to send a post at the post office and several other things, which come in handy in life.
However, what excites the children are the options available for customisation of the avatar and all the goodies they can buy once they have enough millsbucks. They can buy their own house, decorate it, make friends and visit their homes. Having said that, the virtual world lacks the X factor as it is two dimensional. One doesn’t ever get a holistic idea of how the place looks like. The navigation is a little rough and there are other technical problems as well. Because of these, the children are sometimes left dejected- they create their perfect house but somehow. It just doesn’t look that great in the game. This problem is compounded by the fact there is no preview option.
The Millsberry mini games aimed at the collection of Millsbucks are interesting. Games like Archery and Solver keep the kids hooked on Millsberry. They lay great emphasis on creative activities like music and photography. Thus, they promote these interests in kids and kids get to develop their skills here.
But again, they come with their own set of problems. The instructions for these games are very unclear and kids are left confused about the rules. Also, the games tend to become repetitive and boring after a point of time.
The plot of the game has weekly stories which are also related to mini games. These are updated regularly but still, there isn’t a central story line running through Millsberry. Nevertheless, the weekly aspect manages to keep the kids curious.
One area that is flawless in Millsberry is the safety aspect. Parents have absolutely no reason to feel worried about their kids playing Millsberry. There is no offensive language, no obscenity at all. But this is a direct implication of the fact there is no communication in the game. Millsberry lacks any interactive qualities and has only educative books. This makes the game a little monotonous. After all, kids love to interact and make friends.
Millsberry also falls short when it comes to the community aspect. There is no sense of social bonding. One would expect it to have a strong community, it being an online game. But there are no chat forums or any platform that facilitates conversations between fellow players. There are only a select few pre-determined phrases which cannot support a normal conversation.
General Mills has also used Millsberry virtual world to advertise their own products. All the food products that can be bought in the game carry their logos. These products are ridiculously over priced and this reportedly bothers parents. They believe that since everything is so expensive, children tend to get obsessed with collecting money. They are solely driven by consumerist tendencies. However, this is one of the minor problems.
Thus, Millsberry is cute and enjoyable for kids. But it has its share of technical and thematic problems which need to be looked into.