Friday, 4 March 2016

Confessions of an Adult Who Still Plays Neopets

Remember Neopets? I'm sure you do. Chances are that you haven't fed yours in years though I fed mine just the other day. Yes, you heard me right: I am adult that still plays Neopets and will admit to it.

I first signed up for Neopets close to thirteen years ago. I remember first hearing about it in popular Australian kids magazines aimed at a tween audience such as Total Girl and primary-school-me thought the whole concept of virtual pets sounded uber cool - especially since my parents never really let me have pets as a kid - and the character designs were colourful and cute. Naturally I had to sign up!  (Plus soon after I signed up I also heard that they had a Trading Card Game & a game on PS2!)

I remember my first Neopet was a Shoyru! Shoyru remains to this day one of my favourite Neopets even though they have introduced a few more since I first started playing. My first Neopet was a blue Shoyru and I even remember when McDonald's here had Neopets plushies and I insisted on getting the blue Shoyru. It was and still is one of my favourite Neopets. It's been a while and the designs have changed but personally I prefer the new Neopets designs! I think the colours in the illustrations are a lot more vibrant and the linework a lot smoother. Here is a comparison between the old Shoyru design to the new:

Notice the difference? For a full comparison between all the Neopets check out Jellyneo's Book of Ages by clicking here.

On the subject... I always wanted a Draik but could never afford the Draik egg despite being a "Millionaire Double Platinum" (if only that reflected my real life bank balance!) as I spent most of my earnings on collecting Usuki dolls and saving for Hidden Tower items such as a Royal Paintbrush as I wanted a Royal female Usul badly too! One of the good things is the new Neopets now allows users to use real currency to purchase "NC" virtual currency to spend at the NC Mall to buy "wearables" for your Neopet. This is similar to how a lot of online games give users to spend their own money to unlock in-game items and it also gave you the option of customising your Neopet even if you weren't able to obtain a paintbrush (those things were expensive!).

Whilst a lot of people may argue that Neopets is "just a game" and has no educational value, I beg to differ! One thing I am thankful for Neopets for to this very day is just how much the site taught me about real life things such as how the economy worked, how to run a business and it was largely my gateway into getting serious about coding. Perhaps one of the aspects I LOVED most about Neopets was how each of the pets had their own "web pages" and how you could also customise your user lookup and shop, create guilds, etc. I remember spending hours upon hours customising these pages and I got quite good using HTML, CSS and Javascript... Fast forward all the things Neopets taught me about business and programming and we have a Masters Degree in Info Systems! So, yes, to any parents who are reading this concerned that Neopets is a bad influence on their child, think again! Additionally Neopets has a lot of more creative outlets such as the caption contest and art and story competitions and a number of more educational Flash games (Jelly Blobs of Doom, Hannah & the Ice Caves and Meerca Chase still win my top picks though!)! Some of the games like Hannah & the Ice Caves & Pirate Caves as well as have their own level editors where you can even make and submit your own levels!

Side note: Neopets actually has a HTML guide which is handy for kids & teens (& adults)wanting to learn how to code which can be accessed right here!

I know a lot of people complained that as soon as Dr Sloth aka Viacom bought Neopets (& more recently sold it to JumpStart) that the site became full of advertising but... in this day and age which site ISN'T full of advertising? Even YouTube, once mostly ad-free, now shows ads when you click to view most of the videos. Personally I don't see this increased advertising as a deterrent from playing Neopets. Internet advertising is everywhere, at this point I am more or less used to seeing it.

Really, I think the more recent Neopets website has fixed up a lot of things I thought were missing from the old Neopets and made visiting the site a much more immersive experience than before. The world of Neopia has definitely been upgraded and expanded to be larger and a way more interactive user experience overall! Yes they've still kept classics such as the Snowager, Tombola, Coltzan's Shrine, the Fruit Machine, the Wheel of Excitement, the Haunted Woods, the Giant Omelette, Illusen's Glade & Jhudora's Bluff (formerly Jhudora's Cloud) and other classic aspects of the world but they've added so much more to visit including Darigan Citadel, Altador, Lutari Island, Shenkuu, etc.

I think the only disappointment I have experienced with Neopets overall is how a lot of old Neohome items I saved up a lot of Neopoints to buy ever since they changed Neohomes to make them more interactive. I wish they had kept aspects of the old Neohomes into the new and improved Neohomes since I really loved building everything room by room and even though everything was previously a lot more static I felt I had greater creative control over it. Thankfully Neopets HAS realised a lot of us old players would miss our Neohomes since the upgrade and kept these features by enabling "Classic Neohomes".

Whilst I now have other things to do like work and a social life I still do frequently go on Neopets to either play games or get my "dailies". I really enjoy the escapism and as someone who is not in a position to adopt any pets and enjoys playing recreational computer games I do not see any reason why adults should be ashamed to still enjoy Neopets.

I wear my "12 years" Neopets badge with honour!

Sooo... now that I have admitted my love for Neopets and why I am not ashamed to still be feeding my virtual pets and making virtual currency on a "kids site" I wonder... how many of my fellow adult Neopians are out there? I would love that if you're an adult (or even an older teen) who still plays Neopets if you leave a comment and let me know a) How long you've been playing Neopets for and b) do you feel ashamed of it?

GTG feed my Neopets!

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