Club Penguin is gone and I am still not OK



Children’s online computer game Club Penguin provided a safe snowy escape for children everywhere.

In the late 2000’s and early 2010’s, grade school kids everywhere sat in front of their parents’ computer at home, bowl of chips to the side, all getting ready to play the same game: Club Penguin. Club Penguin was a massive multiplayer online game owned by Disney that aimed to provide a safe place for kids of all ages to connect and enjoy simple to understand games, all under the guise of a personalized and customizable penguin avatar. Every month, the game would introduce a player-wide event to the world of Club Penguin, usually themed after an upcoming real world holiday or a miscellaneous celebration.

These additions permeated throughout the halls of my school like an inescapable odor; wherever you went, news of Club Penguin would follow. It seemed as though with each passing month, the electric energy that wove throughout the minds of every kid in my school grew ever stronger. One month we could be saving the island as secret agent penguins, and the next we could be wrapped in blankets with a warming cup of hot cocoa playing Club Penguin to enjoy the Christmas season.

Nothing could top the feeling of discovering one of your friends online in Club Penguin unannounced. During the school day, everyone would share their penguins’ names and describe what they looked like, but actually finding them online was a chore, especially without the quick communication that comes with cell phones. I memorized everyone’s online flightless bird more than I did any math problem I’ve ever worked on, so whenever I was waddling around the virtual island I could pick any of them out from a crowd; the chance meetings were all we could talk about the following days.

Despite the game being aimed primarily at children, I still hold fond memories of walking all over the charmingly drawn locations of Club Penguin at my parents’ desktop computer. I remember the amount of birthday gifts I would waste on asking for gift cards to use in the game, and how the only thing I would really get from those cards was a sweatshirt for my penguin that looked slightly more appealing than the one I had. Even though I can now say this was a colossal waste of money, I miss the time when I didn’t care about things like that; all I wanted was to wear the coolest outfit, to have the coolest igloo and to look cool to all of the friends I met on the game.

No matter if I was failing to learn cursive in first grade or building cardboard castles in sixth grade, Club Penguin was always a trip home away. It served as a home away from home, a way to lose myself in low quality music and virtual snow. It was akin to staying after class now to join a club; you always knew that you could interact and get along with everyone on Club Penguin because everyone was there for the same reason as you, regardless of grade level.

Club Penguin brought to me something that every adolescent desperately needs: A place to fit in. I’d give a lot to be able to roam back into the ever updating snowy landscapes of Club Penguin, to join in the millions of my peers as we saved the island from a dragon or dressed up for Halloween. To all of my fellow Club Penguin players, waddle on.