Neopets, at a Glance
The internet changes daily, just a rapid and spontaneous as the real world around us. Over ten and a half years ago I started playing Neopets in my middle school computer lab, during an overnight lock-in. Since then, the website has reached creative bounds I would have never thought possible creating my first pet that night.
Life was quite simple in the beginning ages of Neopets. There was a small, but interesting, group of pets you could initially create including a few with visages of popular game show hosts or reputable music artists, later changed into the lovable Bruce and Kau that we know today.
After creating your exciting new pet, the first thing you did was head to the game cupboard. Today in the game room a player has access to hundreds of different fun flash games but in 2000 we had, of what I remember, maybe twenty or so different games. Kiko Match, Treasure Maps, and the Stock Market were just a few. The Battledome was there as well but it didn’t shake off dust until a year later and believe me, there was much rejoicing by the community.
The addition of a new zone was always time for much celebrating on Neopets, as the world map was kind of a lame duck until then. New areas like Mystery Island and Faerieland began to pop up all with a catch—you had to sign up for offers in return for totems for entrance to either world. Other features around the game began to adopt a similar quid pro quo approach for features on the site, where one could sign up for offers to receive special pet abilities like Scorch or Dark Aura or unique Battledome opponents of notable childhood cartoon characters or random Neopians. It was nice to see this idea shift later on, since a lot of offers were credit card based and, for a kid at the time, were far from reach. If you didn’t care to explore the new areas, there were still plenty of things to do in Neopia Central, which was home to a lot of the same stores it has today, and some odd ones, like a video store! Central was also home to original guilds created by the staff including the Thieves Guild, Ultimate Lupe Pack and Uni friends! The Thieves Guild always intrigued me because it was a door with creepy peering eyes
Items were certainly different back then as well. Books were just like toys, used to play with pets and never disappeared. The first time I saw a book disappear after reading it, I was in shock! Neopoints inflation was extremely minimal since there weren’t too many things of great value, except the treasure maps, of course! When the Wheel of Excitement came out, I remember everyone in my middle school trying to win the fabled 10,000 NP prize. 10,000 NP was a small fortune and anyone with 100,000 NP was considered untouchable! Of course, with the addition of new zones like Tyrannia, the success of the Battledome and the new weapons, and the addition of petpets, items began to become increasingly more expensive. I remember dropping over 49,000 for a Bag of Infinite Neggs, drawn in by the name alone. I was heartbroken the day I fought the Pant Devil and learned about how fragile the Bag ultimately was, when it broke and I lost it forever. Today, 49,000 NP is a tiny drop in the bucket. Two hours of game room time could net you over 70,000 NP if you play your cards right, and people sit on millions and possibly billions of neopoints. If my past self could see that, I think I’d have a heart attack.
Eventually with my involvement with high school activities and later college, I had to put Neopets on hiatus. I gave my first and only pet, a Chia named Gooberz, up for adoption to a loving home, and donated all my items to the Money Tree. Looking back, I wish I would have held on to everything as whoever was waiting patiently at the tree that day walked away with what would be considered today as timeless treasures. I’m sure my Hypno Helmet, Thyoras Tear, a few Black Frost Cannons, and a myriad of special books found their way to new homes as my pet did.
I came back here and there throughout school when I had free time, finding nostalgic pleasure in such a treasured childhood game. I’ve even made real life friends whom I stay in contact with often, based on the connection we both shared with Neopets when we started as kids. I think a lot of people think Neopets is just a “kid’s website” and that adults are rarely found playing it. I find that far from the truth as even ten years later I still enjoy the games, the plots, and new worlds. I only wish the new players of today could have experience Neopets at its beginning and all the fun I originally had as it built itself up to what it is today.
So I challenge younger players, next time you are on the boards and see someone who has been playing for quite some time, ask them what their original Neopets experience was like, what drew them into the game. Also I challenge you take advantage of everything the game offers. Submit entries to contests, play games you’ve never tried, participate in plots. There are many things on the site and I hope that something will reach out and give you that spark of excitement that the game originally gave me a decade ago. And as a friendly tip from one person to another, be careful what you toss out of your inventory. It might be worth its weight in gold one day!
I look forward to another ten years of Neopets, the fun little milestones along the way, and hope that any new players will create just as many memories as I have.