The key premise of Club Penguin — keep calm and waddle on — has made it an unexpected paradise for those looking to safely escape COVID-19-related isolation.
Many people have experienced loneliness and depression because public health guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19 force them to remain physically separated. A friendly online environment where you can spend time with friends and family can be crucial for remaining stable when reality feels bleak, and can facilitate finding new ways to celebrate special occasions. For adults struggling alone, what better place to find joy than on your favorite childhood stomping grounds, Club Penguin, with all your old friends?
When it was created by RocketSnail Games and further developed by New Horizon, Club Penguin was a multiplayer platform for kids between the ages of 8 and 13. Despite the difficultly of creating a safe chat for its users, Club Penguin’s dedication to fun and safety proved popular for children and young teens.
After New Horizon was purchased by Disney in 2007, Club Penguin’s popularity rose even higher, introducing a new wave of fans to the growing website. By 2008, Disney marketed Club Penguin as a kid-friendly space, eager to waddle its way into the public’s heart. As the game grew more popular, users found there was more to the game than simply throwing snowballs as a penguin.
The depth of Club Penguin’s attraction was the game’s welcoming culture and sense of community, transforming the generations that contributed to the game’s popularity. Millennials and Gen Z who took up the game during this period of growth may remember when users could play minigames in exchange for coins, and then use their coins to purchase clothes for their penguin, buy furniture or puffles for their igloos and host parties of their own. Club Penguin’s quirks cemented the game’s charm in the hearts and minds of those who remember it so fondly.
Opportunities for fans to come together and implement change during the holidays proved to be a key part of the game’s allure for players around the world. Players could participate in special events such as holiday parties, puffle parties or other fun-filled events, where users could donate coins they received in mini-games to different charities, and Club Penguin would donate real money to those charities. These heartwarming actions proved that internet-wielding children could be compassionate and kind to those who were in need — especially during stressful times, such as the fires that plagued Australia this year.
Thank YOU to the community! 🐧
This was such a wholesome moment in history, what a way to start the new year.
As a community of penguins, we shared support and love for the situation in Australia and donated over £3,500 and counting just over an hour for the cause! ❤️ pic.twitter.com/qiUUTdvhXs
— Club Penguin Rewritten (@CPRewritten) January 16, 2020
The charitable nature of Club Penguin’s fan base continued throughout its lifespan. In the beginning, children played with their friends, throwing snowballs and dancing at virtual parties. However, as these children grew older, Club Penguin’s original fan base aged out of the childlike wonder for a snow-covered paradise, and moved onto other games and fandoms such as Among Us, Geometry Dash and Minecraft.
Disney discontinued Club Penguin in 2017, and thanked players for their commitment to the game but encouraged them to waddle onto their next adventure in life. Although most who had played Club Penguin as children were adults by this time, they expressed fondness for the game and petitioned for its return.
This event sparked several copycat versions of the original game, as well as Disney’s subsequent swift demolition of these fake Club Penguin servers. As far as Disney was concerned, fans of Club Penguin would only be able to cling to interactive penguins and igloo parties as a distant childhood memory. One of the most persistent copycat servers is Club Penguin Rewritten. Though Disney took down many copycat sites of their original game, they have since allowed Club Penguin Rewritten to remain online because many players said it would help those who remain at home until the pandemic passes.
College and high school students flock to revisit their childhood as well as help younger children experience the nostalgic landmark for the very first time. Club Penguin Rewritten is an online place where nostalgia and wonder collide to create normalcy in a COVID-19-ridden world.
At first glance, waddling the snow-covered world of Club Penguin Rewritten sounds like a nostalgic paradise for those looking to escape their now-mundane life. With schools, work and life on indefinite hold, Club Penguin Rewritten reminds the world that the charm of childhood’s freedom is the unadulterated fun that many need in these socially starved times.
While the younger children today do not understand the pressures of adult life, those who originally played Club Penguin during their childhood in the mid to late 2000s long for the times when their biggest financial struggle was not paying for a mortgage or a car payment, but rather having enough coins for a new item for their igloo. Children do, however, understand the loneliness of life on hold. With everyone struggling to adjust to their new reality, establishing normality and providing sympathy is crucial. Thankfully, this is where the Club Penguin community thrives.
Retweet this if you have ever Donated to Coins For Change on Club Penguin and/or Club Penguin Island. pic.twitter.com/InPk78cSZb
— That Penguin Game (@ThatPenguinGame) November 23, 2018
The biggest bright spot within the community during COVID-19 is the way the older generation of video game players treats the newcomers. While older members of most gaming communities often mistreat younger members, Club Penguin Rewritten’s more experienced players show kindness to their younger counterparts in a time where sympathy and compassion are necessary.
Older members who have since rejoined their flock are working to give younger players the monumental events that were canceled due to COVID-19. Since members can alter their individual igloo any way that they want, members have created stages for make-shift graduations, where graduates can “walk” the stage and “collect” their diploma while people show support with smile or heart emotes.
Younger players have taken this notion to heart, reminding others to exhibit excitement that older players have forgotten, especially as they experience big events for the first time, such as the holiday parties or Coins for Change event. Players also take this approach to other social interactions, such as dining at restaurants. Though the penguins will not actually eat or order anything other than a seaweed pizza, pretending to have a dining experience with friends can make a difference in someone’s life when they feel isolated.
In response to COVID-19, The University of Texas at Austin will be having graduation online via club penguin. pic.twitter.com/vQ2c917vMQ
— andy chang (@sourdope_bread) March 12, 2020
People from all over the planet remember and play the game with fond memories, maintaining Club Penguin’s presence throughout the years. Club Penguin acts as a reminder to stay indoors. The game itself offers several social gatherings that mimic life outside and issues a reminder that all players should and can remain safe until this global crisis subsides. The response to this plea highlights how the fan base has responded to the hardships of the pandemic, bringing new energy to the game.
Club Penguin Rewritten is more than a nostalgic game for adults who want to revisit their childhood and bored children simply looking to fill a social void. Club Penguin Rewritten is now a monument to a community, encouraging safe behavior while showing how joy can be found even in the turbulence of isolation, reminding us all that we will eventually waddle on through life — together.