Waddle On

Lamenting the loss of the Club Penguin generation.

Maxwel Ruppert

Maxwel Ruppert

Kiana Karimi, Copy Editor

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Club Penguin, a Disney-owned virtual universe and social network for kids and tweens, announced on Jan. 31 that it will shut down in March. The massive multiplayer online game was a childhood hallmark for many “Gen Z-ers.” Club Penguin is a community of penguin avatars who roam an Antarctic world. The platform encourages players to waddle to various themed parties, play mini-games, decorate igloos and collect puffles, the penguins’ furry pets. The “Waddle On” party, celebrating Club Penguin’s legacy, kicked off on Feb. 1 and will end on March 29.

Club Penguin became the escape every kid desired. Many remember the time when they wanted to become a ninja, an EPF (Elite Penguin Force) agent or a master pizza connoisseur. It was full of bright colors and groovy music. Users celebrated the holidays and took part in spontaneous celebrations such as “Star Wars Takeover,” commemorating other Disney franchises. These jubilant jamborees featured made-up “penguin celebrities” that many penguins would dash to take pictures with.

Every user remembers the fluffy little pets of the Club Penguin universe: puffles. Originally, puffles only came in blue and red, but as time went on, different breeds emerged; these included golden, rainbow, ghost, stegosaurus and tabby cat. While undeniably precious, puffles were quite a nuisance for some. Puffles are high maintenance, and the cost of taking care of them was exorbitant.

An array of games were scattered around the island for a penguin to earn Fluffy the Fish-engraved coins. If a penguin aspired to collect pearls, it could play Aqua Grabber, or if it  wanted to release its inner arcader, it could play Astro Barrier. Most “Gen Z-ers” remember Pizzatron 3000, Cart Surfer and Card Jitsu. Invested players would frantically try to find hacks to obtain penguin coins. Coins were used to stay in Penguin fashion or impress fellow penguins. But that modish fashion came with a somewhat ridiculous price: membership. Membership might have been one of the pitfalls of Club Penguin, but something else political happened in November, namely the anti-Trump protest.

The Sunday after the election, Penguins staged the “March of the Penguins.” Penguins huddled in masses, declaring “Not my president,” “Trump is a racist” and “Penguins of color matter.” Conspiracy theorists predict the protest was one of the reasons the makers of Club Penguin decided to shut the website down.

Even though Club Penguin slowly became obsolete with the emergence of other kid-friendly games, many still reminisce about their Club Penguin days.

“I think it’s sad that it’s ending because it’s a classic computer game and it’ll inevitably be replaced by some iPad game that will keep kids glued to their screens,” senior Sarah Maninger said. “It’s resonated with me just as a fond memory of how simple things used to be. I remember that my biggest worries used to be how many more coins I need to get a puffle. It was the fun game that our generation loved and that was one of the things that tied us all together.”

Club Penguin was not only a place that built fond memories, but also piqued users’ curiosity regarding the many secrets that were sprinkled in every room, game or magazine.

Many fabled rumors lurked across the island. The iceberg has long been the source of the universe’s most legendary query. Could a plethora of penguins tip the iceberg? For 12 years, this question remained unanswered — until now. Developers added a corner that causes the iceberg to tip if there are enough penguins to stand on one side. It may have taken 12 years, but Penguins finally got their childhood wishes.

It’s all going away in less than two months.

In Club Penguin’s place, Disney decided to launch a new app, Club Penguin Island, to keep up with mobile gaming. Club Penguin Island will launch in March, while the original Club Penguin desktop and mobile game will be shut down on March 29. The denouement of Club Penguin is a bittersweet milestone for a particular generation, for those of us who grew up during the Internet explosion. Some of us even learned how to socialize online through Club Penguin’s virtual world. Whether or not if it involves a pixelized Antarctic island, many “Gen Z-ers” will continue to waddle on a new digitized journey.

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The online student newspaper of Palisades Charter High School
Waddle On