Club Penguin: 10 years later

March 18, 2017 — by Eric Sze

These days, kids use iPhones and tablets as their sources of entertainment. Every so often, I hear kids bragging about how successful their business is on the game Restaurant Story. Even more horrifying, I occasionally walk by kids complaining about how their parents bought them the black iPhone 7 when they actually wanted the silver one.

Me? I had an IBM Thinkpad from 1998 and Club Penguin as my sole source of entertainment when I was growing up.

I first discovered the amazing virtual world of Club Penguin when I was around 5 or 6 years old while hanging out with my family friends. They were playing the Cart Surfer mini-game on Club Penguin, and being the curious young child that I was, I decided to sit by and watch.

Club Penguin captured my imagination and all of my dreams as I could play all sorts of mini-games, make money, buy pets and buy a home. Immediately, I knew that I had to create an account.

My first Club Penguin account ever was under the username, LovelyPen (it’s synonymous for Lovely Penguin; don’t ask, my mother made it for me). And so I entered the world of Club Penguin on the date of July 16, 2006, as a pastel blue penguin with nothing more than a couple of coins.

I soon became obsessed with the game, racking up coins at an insane pace and playing mini-games like mancala and fishing. I also got the job of a secret agent before it was possible for everyone to do so and had to go through a series of tests to become an agent.

I was an active member on Club Penguin until I was 11. I watched the reconstruction of the new HQ — from a small room with a series of TVs monitoring the world of Club Penguin to a large and complex building reminiscent of something from a Bond movie. I watched and embraced the introduction of a new Club Penguin spot, known as the “Cove” where a new surfing game was introduced. I squealed with excitement when I found out that it was possible to catch a giant fish by using the last fish as bait in the fishing game.

For Christmas and my birthday, the top item on my wish list was always a Club Penguin membership, and when my parents finally granted it to me for a couple months over summer, I took full advantage of it. I finally could spend all my hard-earned money through playing endless fishing games, mancala, purchasing a Deluxe Igloo and stocking my new home with all sorts of furniture. I splurged on new puffles, which are little pets, expanding my collection from the basic blue and red to an assortment of pink, purple, green and black puffles.

Seven years later, I recently logged back onto my account, with my penguin 3,887 days old. Upon first login, the loading screen and the sign in page hadn’t changed much, but as soon as I selected a server, the town caught me by surprise. It looked like the entire world had been remodeled.

The new Dance Club used to be called “Night Club” and the Clothing Shop used to be called “Gift Shop.” There were flashing signs and small additions throughout the entire city, including decorations that resembled red carpets. There were also modifications throughout the game: The buildings looked more flat and had more intricate designs inside and outside the buildings.

Despite the changes, the layout of Club Penguin remains familiar in a comforting way. The entire bottom bar and the map still looks the same, and players still have the option of throwing snowballs and sitting in weird angles. My 11 puffles are still healthy, just as I left them.

Though Club Penguin is a game intended for children and won’t be around anymore after its shutting down on March 29, it lives on forever in my memories as an integral part of my childhood.

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