Neopets is one of those things that you either A) have never heard of (wtf, is it like a Tamagotchi or something?) or B) wilt with nostalgia over because ohmygoodnessssss the 90s were like totally amazing!
I happen to fall into the “B” category.
Whenever I talk about my journey toward becoming a professional blogger, one thing I mention often is that I’ve been blogging for nearly twenty years.
“But, Amber, how can that be?! You’re far too young to have been doing it for that long!”
Aww, well thank you, dear reader, but it’s true.
I first started blogging with Xanga back in 1998 and even built my first website with Geocities around that same time! Pretty impressive given that I was a 10 year old with AOL as her internet service, eh?
I then signed up for Neopets in June 2000 and found myself wonderfully lost inside this virtual world.
What is Neopets?
Neopets is a virtual world in which you have virtual pets (that fortunately cannot die!) Users within this world can buy items, such as books, food, and clothing, to use to interact with their pets. They can also buy items to equip their pets to do battle or furniture to decorate their Neohomes. Basically think of Neopets like Pokemon on acid.Heh have you swooned over the coolness that is me yet?
While many might think it just a silly game for kids, Neopets taught me many things over the years, such as…
Neopets & HTML Coding
Each of your Neopets has their own homepage that you can customize and design with basic HTML coding. Now keep in mind that when I first started with Neopets, the internet was a fairly new experience for everyone. So for a child of barely thirteen to have the opportunity to learn and implement coding like this was quite literally unheard of! Adults were still working to master it (many didn’t know what it even was!) and here was this game that gave kids the chance to learn in a fun, imaginative environment. I can now read and write HTML having never actually taken a course on it – this comes in pretty handy as someone who runs an online business!
Running a Business
Speaking of running a business, I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit which certainly comes in handy with Neopets. As I mentioned before, you can buy/sell items on Neopets, which leads to you running your own shop. Not only can you again utilize HTML to design your “storefront” and better market yourself, but you can also visit the “Shop Wizard” to compare prices. I was so serious about my Neopets store that I would often write out a marketing plan (much like an editorial calendar!) and map out what’s best to sell when. Yes, Neopets taught me competitive pricing, a concept I obviously still use today!
Christmas ’round the corner? Better pull my Christmas paintbrushes now so I can sell them at a higher price when the holiday gets near!
School is soon ending? More kids will be playing soon, better stock up now so I have plenty of inventory on hand!
Neopets running a special giveaway for free items? Collect ’em and stick ’em in my safety deposit box, because goodness knows they won’t sell for much any time soon.
I’m sure it seems silly to most, but there are some serious economic lessons to learn through Neopets!
When I took Consumer Economics in High School, a lot of what I was taught were things I already had basic knowledge of thanks to Neopets. First, there’s the bank, through which you not only deposit/withdraw your Neopoints, but you can also collect interest. Thankfully the APY (annual percentage yield) with Neopets is much higher than that of the real world, with my current account drawing at 11%.
Yes, I’m a Neopian Millionaire. No, I won’t give you a loan. (*psst* it’s against their ToS anyway!)
Oh and they also have a stock market that I took very seriously from early on.
Even though it’s all pretend, I would sit and read through the “Neodaq’ reports and tune in on the message boards to see if I could pick up any incoming trends (or dips). It was all so fascinating to me! Little did I know I was developing life skills that would one day lead to me running my own business!
How to Be a Leader
Within Neopets, you can join or run your own guild of other Neopets players. I created one called “On Faerie Wings” and this probably goes without saying, but I was the Faerie Queen. I even held quarterly elections for those wishing to serve on my council.
(because again in case you missed it the first few times – I was super cool!)
Through my guild, I would share my own personal tips regarding Neopia and cultivate information from others on what worked vs. what didn’t. We would host live chat forums, set up practice battles, and I even created a separate Geocities site to spotlight members’ Neopets. I took my leadership role very seriously and at one point had one of the most active guilds on the site. When my Grandma died in 2001, it was those guild members that helped me work through it. The game gave me something to focus on through the grief and I credit it with helping me become the leader that I am today.
Along those lines, being the efficiency strategist that I am, one thing that has always stood out to me with Neopets is that because your Neopets can never die, your success is limited simply to the time and energy you’re willing to put in. This virtual world has taught me many things that lend themselves to my now running my own business but if you’re going to take anything away from this piece, it should be that – your success is only limited by the time and energy you’re willing to give toward it.
Now I’m off to play some Meerca Chase…but if my husband asks, I’m totally with a client! 😉