Growing Up (and Old) With Neopets: A Personal Experience
A long, long, long time ago, during Summer break of 2000, a friend of mine told me about a fun and magical site called Neopets where you could create pets, feed, and play with them. I was a whopping 12 years old then so I signed up to play. Since then I have been coming back to Neopets to play games, to relax, and pass time. This is a personal story; a story of growing up with Neopets and memories it holds.
Neopets was started in 1999 and I did not begin playing until 2000.
2000-2001: The first year of personal play, Neopets was very basic. I attended a middle school in a rural Southern State where internet connections were always dial-up and extremely slow at school. I would go to school and discuss Neopets with my friends, and together we had a small community of Neopet players. We would sneak and login to Neopets when we went to the library or any chance we got to be on a computer. We would proudly show off our pets to each other and discuss Neopets during lunch. This was probably, in my opinion, the best year of Neopets. We were blissful, happy, and enjoyed our games. We were not fighting to obtain avatars, limited edition items, nor did we have to worry about missing out on NC items. There were a few paintbrushes out then – and we proudly showed off our painted pets anywhere we could on Neopets. Neopets was constantly releasing new items, new pets, new ideas! The ones of us with access to the lab ray went every day, excited to see what would happen. Having access to the Lab Ray was more of a status of how much time and effort you put into Neopets – everyone wanted a piece of it! We would log on every day, excited to read the Neopet News. It was like how our parents were always so engrossed in the Regional News – but for us, it was Neopets. Job Coupons appeared and sent a frenzy through Neopets and my friends. I received a coupon which was "extremely expensive" at 80,000 NP. I put it in my shop and was amazed when one of the famous Neopians of the time bought it – my friend told me she was an older lady, a Grandmother. To this day I do not know if that is accurate, but from the looks of it she still plays Neopets as well. Back then, items were cheap; it was considered rare to have millions of Neopoints, and you got excited over making 500 NP or sometimes less!
2002-2005: High School came and went – I still played Neopets off and on but most of my friends eventually grew away from it. I still have one friend who would play it with me – every time I logged on I would see new features, new worlds, new plots, new colors. I stayed extremely busy in high school – the first two years my friends and I would still discuss it, and play it at school when we had the chance. It kept us happy – something we could do for fun, in a boring, small town (with only two red-lights at the time). As time passed my school friends grew further and further away from the site – I assumed they were just growing up and that Neopets was a "child's game" and that I, too, one day would stop playing. One of my friends quit playing completely, gave me her White Lupe, and got rid of her account. It was a very sad day for me. Avatars were becoming much more popular at this time – and I began the process of collecting them. At the end of High School, it was just me who would occasionally play Neopets. All my friends from school had moved to different websites for fun and entertainment.
2005-2009: College years! At this time I had entered a local University to work on my Bachelors of Nursing. I still occasionally checked Neopets – maybe for some dailies or a lab zap – maybe to see what was new. Neopets became largely replaced with Facebook and common Facebook games at this point. In the end, I would always come back to Neopets. Neopets added customization for our pets – at first I disapproved, but as time passed it became one of my favorite activities to partake in. I eventually got bored of the Facebook games – and back to Neopets I came! I found a Guild to join, and would drop in to say hello, check out new avatars, do some dailies, and leave. I was a monthly Neopet player, but I couldn't let it go. I graduated college and felt as if I became an official adult – I was a Registered Nurse and had a *real* job!
2010-2013: Graduate School came (and is almost done). Soon I will be a Nurse Practitioner and prescribing medications to help others feel better. Where did time go? I still play Neopets when time permits, and I still enjoy it. While working at a local hospital, a fellow coworker saw me log onto Neopets in downtime. He replied, "Isn't Neopets for nine year olds?" in a laughing manner. I just smiled and replied, "No, it's a site to grow old with."
When you look at a username of a Neopian you can't help but wonder: who are they? Who will they be one day? Will they be a president? A famous actor or actress? How did Neopets impact their lives? Maybe that player that was so kind to send you the cure for Neomonia will invent the cure to cancer in the future. Maybe the Neopian who advocated for new and improved Neopet interface will be the President, or a part of a Government Program to help others one day. Maybe one of the users who customizes Neopets will be the next famous fashion designer. Whether you choose to believe it or not, everything you do growing up has an effect on what you become. Spending hundreds to thousands of hours playing a game, playing with virtual pets, does add character to your being.
Hopefully, a majority of us will continue to enjoy Neopets and grown old, old, and older with the site. Thank you Neopets, for the entertainment, social interaction, and fun times you have given me, and other users over the past 14 years.