It’s getting down to the last few days in the life of “Club Penguin,” Disney’s massively successful multiplayer online role-playing game. Debuting in October, 2005, “Club Penguin” is a game designed for children between the ages 6 to 14 with an emphasis on child safety, something unfamiliar to role-playing games of the time. The game utilizes a point and click style of gameplay, and has over 200 million registered accounts as of this month.
Originally, “Club Penguin” was a flash game developed by Lance Priebe, creator of Rocketsnail Games, titled “Snow Blasters” and inspired by a “Far Side” comic. In 2007, Disney acquired the game for 350 million dollars, and grew from 3.9 million users in 2006 to 30 million in 2007. In 2008, Nielson rated “Club Penguin” as the eighth most popular social networking site. However, 10 years after Disney’s acquisition of the site, it’s being shut down, in part due to lack of new user registration, and the changing landscape of technology that led to the dissolution of the use of Adobe Flash on many common browsers.
In these last few months of the life of “Club Penguin,” the site has grown into a place of reminiscing, and a fair deal of chaos. In Dec. of 2016, users held a site-wide protest against Donald Trump, using the game’s chat feature to chant “Not my President.” Since the announcement that “Club Penguin” was shutting down, users have participated in a game to see who could get banned from the site the fastest, utilising the site’s banned words list and trying to cheat at the various games “Club Penguin” provides for its users.
Disney is planning to replace “Club Penguin” with a mobile game called “Club Penguin Island.” “Club Penguin Island” boasts similar gameplay and style, with an updated build using a 3D game engine as opposed to Flash. “Club Penguin Island” will be available for both iOS and Android, if you’re feeling nostalgic.
But still, to the majority of kids growing up in the early 2000s, “Club Penguin” was a game built specifically with child safety in mind. This was a game that parents couldn’t object to, due to its strict moderation and limited abilities to do much more than chat with other players or play minigames. It taught children how to use the Internet safely and effectively, and garnered millions of accounts, a handful of books and other games, and even a few TV spin-offs. Despite the relative ease of use when it came to playing the game, it without a doubt made an impact on the Internet, and on the lives of children and young adults today.
Rest in peace, “Club Penguin.” A generation of children will never forget you.