Goodbye Club Penguin
I turned 9 the summer I moved out of the boondocks and into the suburbs. My childhood home was even more remote than Plymouth. The town had a one-room library, no grocery store, and (at least in my house) no internet connection.
I learned a lot that first summer in the suburbs. I made friends with my crazy next door neighbor. She made me an email account, and all summer we exchanged one-word emails. Most of mine contained only the word “Hello,” in size 96 font, with each letter a different color. The miracles of technology.
My neighbor liked to talk about her pet “puffles” on this awesome website called Club Penguin. She walked me through creating my own fat, virtual penguin. That day, I bought my first puffle. I named him “Fluffy.”
Club Penguin became my escape. It was full of bright colors and goofy music. I rocked at all the games. I knew the secret to catching the giant mullet in the game Ice Fishing. I decorated my igloo for every holiday. I submitted to the Club Penguin Times, and had my question answered in the weekly column, Ask Aunt Arctic.
When my friends outgrew Club Penguin, or moved on to newer sites (Webkinz, anyone?) I remained faithful to my virtual, Antarctic home. I loved the simplicity of it.
Once Disney took over, Club Penguin grew more complicated and commercial. My middle school self was already feeling nostalgic for childhood.
The game kept growing, and I kept getting older. One lucky day, Club Penguin faded out of my life completely. I could finally do something productive with my free time.
Last week, when I found out Club Penguin was being discontinued, I recovered my password and logged in one last time. My computer was bombarded with popups about a scavenger hunt going on. I received three friend requests within the minute, from complete strangers. My puffle was digging up hundreds of coins, all on his own. My old laptop kept freezing. I logged out without bothering to visit my igloo.
I’m not sad about losing Club Penguin. My Club Penguin was gone a long time ago. The site has changed to suit the next generation of children. In March, the mobile site Club Penguin Island will create a virtual home for millions of modern children.
It’s strange, having fond memories of a virtual world. In the future, I’m sure people will be nostalgic for even stranger things. But even when the url becomes inactive, college students who grew up in the “coolest” website on the web will still have Club Penguin to look back on.
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