Hey Poptropicans, it’s Slanted Fish.
In this post, I’ll be exploring the topic of Poptropica and age. This is a continuation from a previous post, so if you haven’t already read that, be sure to first catch up with Part 1 here. Once you’ve read it, continue on below to Part 2!
Why are there so many older kids/teens in the fandom?
Herein lies a kicker: despite the target audience, Poptropica is still quite popular with many older kids as well. What’s the appeal?
I can’t speak for everyone, but I can speak from my own experience and observations. At age 11, when I was first introduced to the game, I was enamored by Poptropica and all its whimsical characters and worlds. At 20, I still enjoy checking out a new island when it’s released, but it has become much more than a game to me. Like many other Poptropicans have reported, it’s not only about the content (though that certainly plays an important role). The community surrounding Poptropica has also played a big part in continuing my interest, accompanied by my own personal passions.
For me, being involved in the Poptropica community has been a huge encouragement to my creativity. I like to write, and heading up the Poptropica Help Blog has been an amazing opportunity to do so with a large readership of fellow fans. I’ve shared before that this blog was almost created to be a fan site for another game called Club Penguin – and if it had been, who knows what would’ve happened?
However, that was not to be the case (fortunately!), and instead, I’ve been blessed by all of your encouragement to keep writing about Poptropica. My earliest work was not the most polished, but I’ve definitely improved over the years. More recently, I’ve been taking on the editorial role of proofreading for guest posts for the blog. Thanks in part to this foundation in my life, I’ve become more confident in my writing ability and it’s become something I want to keep pursuing in my life – not writing about Poptropica necessarily, but writing in general.
I also like to draw, and again, because of Poptropica, I have been inspired to create fan art based on the game and have a community take interest in that work via sites like DeviantArt. So have tons of other Poptropica creatives. Could we have written and drawn inspiration from other subject matter? Sure, and many of us probably have. But why not Poptropica? If we are especially taken by a witty character, a beautiful scene, or a creative costume from Poptropica, why not let it stimulate our creative side?
On that note, it’s amazing how many ways you can customize your Poptropica character, and the lengths some players go through to find certain item parts to complete their costume is impressive. That on its own is a fun creative endeavor, but what’s also cool is seeing some take it further by creating their own OCs, or Original Characters, based on their Poptropica avatars. These OCs (also called Popsonas) are given character traits and sometimes even stories about their lives.
Brave Tomato, who’s 19, creates fan art, fan fiction, and YouTube videos about Poptropica, and has been blogging with the PHB for over 5 years. She says this about her longtime involvement with the fandom: “I believe what kept me in the fandom for so long is not only the game itself, but the amazing people I have gotten to meet and get to know over the period of time. There’s just something really appealing about this fandom in particular that I don’t think I’ve seen in many other fandoms. The game doesn’t make its primary focus elementary education. Its stories aren’t elementary either.”
There’s yet another aspect of the Poptropica fandom I haven’t mentioned yet, and that’s the glitchers. They’re the ones who enjoy digging through Poptropica’s files and code, looking for glitches to exploit and sneak peeks on future game updates. They’re the ones who brought the rest of us techniques and tools like the ASG and Custom Name Genie. And this, too, can be the beginnings of an exploration into how computers work.
Red Lizard, 20, is the developer of a glitching tool called Modify A Poptropican 2.0 and has also contributed to the Avatar Studio Gift, among various other glitching endeavors. He says he’s “more interested in the mechanics of the game and finding exploits. Also, Poptropica has given me inspiration to code a few apps.”
Santorno, who developed another glitching tool called iPop as a high-schooler, writes this on the front page of iPop: “Being able to exploit the game to my liking felt like pure magic. Ever since [being given access to Modify A Poptropican 1.0], I’ve always been interested in software development and learning how computers function. To this day, I still want to pursue a career in the field of computer science.”
To many players, especially teenagers and older, Poptropica is not just a game. It’s the breeding ground for forays into various fields like writing, art, and even computer science. It’s also a community of fellow players who appreciate and learn from the creations of these inquisitive minds, and befriend each other on social networks outside of Poptropica’s limited multiplayer functions.
Poptropica is shaping future writers, artists, programmers, and more. For these players, young and old, Poptropica – the game and the fandom – is worth it.
To be continued…
Thanks for reading Part 2 of “Poptropica and Age”! I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
In Part 3, I’ll talk about whether or not it’s “weird” for anyone beyond the target audience to still be involved in Poptropica. Stay tuned!