Neopets has been a part of my life for a very long time, as strange as it may sound to say something so sentimental about a website. Some of my earliest memories of using my family’s first desktop computer are of navigating the Neopets homepage at the age of eight or nine and creating the first of my digital pets.
Now, as Neopets celebrates its 20th anniversary and I get closer to celebrating my 30th birthday, I realize just how much of a constant Neopets has been throughout my life. I have grown up alongside the site and while Neopets has changed throughout the years and I have gotten older, and while it may not be with the same account I started with, I still log on.
It was through Neopets that I got my first taste of internet culture. Neopets was my introduction to interacting with other people online, how I was first introduced to fan-culture and how I was first encouraged to explore basic coding, among so many other things. In a myriad of ways, it was Neopets that made me a little more prepared to go forth into the rest of the internet as a prepared online citizen.
Throughout the years, online social spaces, forums and even video games have come and gone from my life but Neopets has remained. No matter how busy, I always take time out of the week to log in, catch-up with guildmates (all longterm users like myself) and play a couple games of Faerie Bubbles when I need to unwind and relax. Meanwhile, there are parts of Neopets like the annual Advent Calendar that have transcended the site’s digital boundaries to become part of my real-world traditions over the years.
While Neopets has undergone changes in leadership, site updates and experienced losses (RIP Keyquest & Habitarium) throughout the years, the familiar characters, games, and usernames floating around Neopia have been a constant throughout times of change in my life. Whether heading off to school or moving to a different country, I have always been able to return to Neopets’ familiar spaces, digital coziness and relaxing daily routine.
While Neopets no longer seems to be the rite of passage it once was with kids and preteens just beginning to explore the internet, the launch of two new tie-in mobile games and appearances at various conventions makes it seem like Neopets is making a comeback to capture the hearts of a new generation and for that, I’m glad. I think there’s still something to be learned from taking care of virtual pets and running errands for faeries.
With nearly 20 years invested, along with many hard-earned Neopoints in the National Neopian bank, I’m not planning on Turmac Rolling anywhere anytime soon. Besides, in all my years playing, I’ve only gotten one Fountain Faerie quest. I still have work to do!