Monday, March 5, 2012

Bringing it Back to a Childhood Game

Over spring break one of my friends told me that they had just started playing neopets, an online "clickey" game that I had played frequently in elementary and part of middle school. In the game, you create pets, you give your pets pets (petpets), you create homes for your pets, there is a virtual world with many different places you can go, and there is a large variety of games within the game that you can play to earn points. Hearing that my friend had just started playing the game got me thinking: Why did I play the game in the first place? Why is my friend, who is my age, just starting to play it now? I went back the website and logged into one of my old accounts to explore these questions. I had over 500,000 "neopoints," and a fancy home for my pet and petpet. I realized that I enjoyed playing in an alternate fantasy universe where I, at a young age, could be wealthy in the world and create a life for my pet; I could be like an adult. I enjoyed winning in another life through games of chance and through earning. After talking to my friend about the game, I also realized that he was playing for the money, for the wealthy lifestyle, after he asked me if he could take all of my neopoints and valuable items. Another interesting point I realized after logging into my own account is the fact that the game has not really noticably changed in any form: there aren't really any new places in the virtual world, the items are worth the same, the games are worth the same etc. This fact got me thinking as to why the game has stayed successful for so long, without updating at all. This question I could not come to an answer to after playing the game for about a week, because I got extremely bored due to the lack of changes, and as someone who is older and leads a more indepedent life now, the fantasy is no longer entertaining to me. I think my friend, on the other hand, may find the game interesting because it is new to him, but he will most likely get over it quickly and be on to the next game.
<--these are the neopets I had


  1. I remember all of my friends playing neopets when we were kids. I never got into it because I wasn't interested in the concept. I do agree that we enjoy variety in our games and after awhile they do get boring, yet I think a major reason you are no longer interested in playing this game is because you know that it is not realistic. We are at an age now where we do need to think about financial matters and getting ourselves caught up in a childish game is probably not the best path to success in the real world. The truth is the format of the game could be the same but there is always a possibility to do different things with the same format. I often think of a game of words with friends. Why are we all not bored of that game yet? It has the same format but each game arises new challenges. I think as we grow up we start to play games that are more at our intellectual level.
    -Shannon Funsch

  2. The genius of Neopets is the fact that it brought fun to education. It taught me the basics of the stock market, auctioning, inflation and fair pricing, the problems of a barter-exchange system (Dubloons), and various other economic concepts. It taught me how to play card games like Poker and BS (euphemized as "Cheat" in Neopets). It taught me the basics of programming (I would try to hack the Flash games by reading tutorials). It taught me critical thinking through "Best," a weekly math competition that provided difficult problems which required creative thinking and problem solving.

    Unfortunately for me, it is only now that I understood how essential Neopets was in my educational development. At the time, I had decided that I was getting too addicted and would never touch it again. This post brought back a lot of memories for me and I can't thank you enough for making it. I believe every elementary school should require its students to play Neopets because there is so much about the real world that it mirrors in a very enjoyable fantasy setting.