Guest Posts

Pop Petition: Let’s talk about minority representation in Poptropica

Hey Poptropicans, this is a guest post by HfEvra (Mess of a Being)Enjoy!

Greetings, fellow humanoid creatures with unrealistic proportions who lack ears and noses! This is HfEvra or Mess of a Being, and I’m here today with another guest post, this time about minority representation in Poptropica — particularly on ethnicity, gender, and sexuality.

As a Middle Eastern non-binary lesbian, seeing minority representation in current children’s media brings me immense joy and makes me hopeful that the kids of today will grow up to be tolerant, well-adjusted adults. But recently, I found myself thinking: What if Poptropica also had this sort of representation? And that’s what I’m here to talk about today.

Representation in Poptropica so far

Before talking about how more diversity can be implemented into the game, I wanna go over some instances of Poptropica’s existing attempts at diversity and inclusivity — both the successes and the failures.

The first thing that comes to my mind is the removal of the gender selector from the account creation screen, clearly meant to make the game inclusive for LGBT people who don’t fall into the gender binary of male or female.

Poptropica used to ask if you were a boy or girl when creating a new account.

Instead of a player’s choice of gender affecting whether or not their Poptropican has eyelashes, the player simply gets to choose whether or not they want eyelashes without having to go into the nitty-gritty of gender identity. In addition, it was also made so that both masculine and feminine clothing could be seen at the same time in the (now removed) New You building on Home Island.

In terms of representing persons of color (POC), however, Poptropica is a mixed bag. On one hand, we have C.J., the brilliant young girl scientist from Shrink Ray Island as well as Dr. Rachel Salerno, the courageous astronaut woman from Lunar Colony Island. On the other hand, we have Ringmaster Raven, the horribly mistreated and tragic villain from Monster Carnival Island. (Yes, it does seem that I am incapable of making anything that doesn’t end up referencing him.)

Top: Dr. Salerno, one of the best depictions of a person of color in Poptropica. Below: Ringmaster Raven, one of the game’s worst representations of POC.

There is also the fact that Poptropica is guilty of whitewashing — the act of taking a character who isn’t white (or white-coded) and altering them to be white, or at the least, white-passing. Crusher from Super Power Island and DJ Saturday Nite from Zomberry Island, who were both dark-skinned when they were first introduced, had their skin tones lightened in subsequent appearances in the game years later — quite a problematic move considering that people of color are already lacking representation as is. Here’s the before-and-after of the DJ:

And as for Crusher…

That being said, there are ways that Poptropica could add diversity to the game and make things more inclusive without falling into problematic implications. Let’s discuss a few of those ways, shall we?

What else can be done?

In the PHB’s Q&A with Poptropica’s CEO from last November, it was mentioned that Poptropica doesn’t currently have any characters whose sexual orientation or gender identity plays an important part in the story, but that it is something that should be considered for future islands. However, there is actually more that can be done in regards to representation than having islands revolve around the minority identities in question.

(Some players read Hazel and Beatrice from Crisis Caverns as a couple. Had it been confirmed in the island itself, this could’ve been an interesting representation of not only gay and/or biracial couples, but also older LGBT couples, who don’t get as much representation as younger ones.)

One of the more subtle ways to establish a character as LGBT is to integrate it into their appearance or environment. Maybe a character could have a pride flag color scheme, or wear something like a pin that has the pride colors on it! Maybe we enter a character’s house as part of the story and we find a pride flag tapestry on the wall! Maybe the character has framed pictures of them alongside their same-sex parents! There’s practically an infinite amount of ways to add LGBT content to Poptropica without being in-your-face about it.

Of course, that isn’t to say that all LGBT content has to be shunted out of the frame by being restricted to subtle design choices and/or background characters. One aspect of representation to remember is that a character’s minority trait shouldn’t be their entire personality, but if the LGBT characters in the game are restricted exclusively to background characters, that’s not fully representative either.

Luckily, Poptropica islands have more moving parts than just “player” and “background NPCs” — they also have a ton of secondary characters who play a part in the islands’ stories! In the future, there could be an island where a sidekick character is explicitly shown to be gay, trans, etc. Perhaps they have a romantic partner of the same gender who’s mentioned or seen alongside them during the story, or perhaps they’re a non-binary person who uses gender neutral pronouns! It’s not a hard thing to add to the story — simply referring to the character in question with non-binary pronouns like “they/them” or “xe/xem” (hey look, those are my pronouns as well!) would help normalize non-conventional pronouns to the game’s audience of kids.

Since the Poptropica Creators advertised 2021 as “the year of stories,” perhaps their current priorities are the Dream Island contest winners, so we likely won’t be seeing this sort of representation anytime soon. But hey, a gay can hope!

Hope you enjoyed this guest post by HfEvra. If you did, you might also enjoy xer other Pop Petition: Story changes for classic islands.

The Poptropica Help Blog welcomes interesting Poptropica insights from anyone in the Poptropica community with thoughts to share. Interested in writing for the PHB? We’d love to hear from you! 📰✨


58 thoughts on “Pop Petition: Let’s talk about minority representation in Poptropica”

  1. Wow you are so right! I never noticed how Crusher and DJ Saturday Nite had their skin tones lightened… That is pretty offensive…

  2. As a Christian, I don’t totally agree with all of the things you’ve posted here. I believe Poptropica didn’t mean anything by lightening the skin tones, maybe just a fresh new look!

    1. Uh… It’s a virtual game also the face your excusing the whole whitewashing of two black characters isn’t gonna end well, Plus okay we get it your Christian but please read all the way till the end slowly on Xem’s post.

    2. I have no clue what being called “Karen” is, I mean I thought it was just a name. But anyway, it’s okay if someone doesn’t believe in what HfEvra is pointing out. It’s possible that the new version of Poptropica caused the whole skin-tone-lighting thing. We can’t know for sure, so it’s not like MagicLizard is “excusing the whitewashing of two characters”, Smart Sinker. Magic Lizard said he/she didn’t agree with what HfEvra is saying, and I can’t find anything wrong with that. That’s not “excusing” anything, it’s just stating that he/she (sorry, I don’t know if you are a guy or a girl) doesn’t think that the creators were purposely changing the look of the skin tone.

      1. Thank you so so much White Fox. Thanks for being mature and realizing that it’s okay to have a different thought about something. I know all of you believe that LGBT is okay, but that can’t stop me from trying to show y’all the truth.

      2. Emu please for the love of zeus, Understand what is going on right now isn’t okay. I understand your young and Christian however you need to not bring religion up so many times also didn’t you say you ranted against LGBTQ?

    3. Friends, let’s remember to keep the comments section civil. Comments that attack people and derail from the topic at hand may be removed.

      If you are a Christian, you may find this resource on LGBTQ inclusion helpful for understanding this topic from a faith perspective. Whatever you choose to believe, please keep an open mind and respect the inherent value (and inherited values) of your fellow humans. Thanks.

      1. fishy, can you delete all those comments arguing with this lgbt thing? we had a rough day today

        guys don’t start this again, ok?

      2. Yes let’s all be calm and read through our comments with a cool mind to see what we have written. Then we can understand and also pls don’t use comments like SHUT UP. Advice from a 9 year old. 😶

  3. the pic of binary bard and d.r hare as a couple was something in never thought of… also great job on this post! really I also feel a little offended by the fact that they light up the skin colours of Crusher and DJ Saturday nite……….

  4. it’s a really big pogger for me to see there are characters that happen to have the colors of pride flags and i’d love to see more of it, along with better representation of poc characters.

    btw, raven’s ending is very upsetting and i refuse to acknowledge it as canon until it’s get fixed and we get the better and chadest ending for him.

    1. being lgbt isn’t a choice, religion is. you’re perfectly free to practice whatever religion you want, but don’t act hateful towards the lgbt community or we’ll bite back. also evra goes doesn’t go by she/her pronouns, they use they/them or xe/xem. if you’re going to be a bigot at least try and be respectful about it

    1. only 5-6 verses in a big bible mentioning homophobia that doesn’t mean we have to go against it

      i’m also a christian lol

  5. Hey all y’all haters! 👋 I’m not ten, I love talking about my true and right religion, and I’m very uncomfortable. You know why? Every single person here is ganging up on me and telling me what to do and not what to do, and I don’t like it. You want me to “see that LGBT is okay” but by doing this what are you accomplishing? Bye phb, I won’t be back. Never thought I would have to leave my favorite blog because of this.

    1. wow, maybe this would have been avoided if you didn’t argue with everyone? religion doesn’t justify hate against lgbtq+

    1. You weren’t being mean, it is the way of the internet unfortunately. People have different opinions and express them. On the internet, people act like big scary dogs when trying to stand up for what they believe in, though in real life, they are not a very big dog.

      I applaud you for trying to take part, but these people are older and many do not realize how old you are (if what you’re saying is true).

      I am not posting an opinion on this topic.

      Take a break from commenting on this thread and maybe go play Poptropica and just have fun on the site. Nice to see a fellow PHB reader! Worry about this stuff later.

  6. Now, where would I put the prized head of a squeaker. First off let’s begin on Emu’s account of “Conformist Christianity”, “LGBTQ+ = Sin” hun do you realize how bad that is structured never in my life have I ever just sat there and went the hell is this, “Christianity was founded on the acceptance of the outsider”, where Jesus H. Christ -an outsider may I add- gave up your their life to vanquish your “sins”, however, you went and defaced their teachings of acceptance of the outsider by stating “LGBTQ+” the outsider in modernity, deserves no recognition of being accepted, can you see how these “TRUTHS” contradict each other? However, you may argue that’s not what the bible says, hun, do realize the idea of “LOST IN TRANSLATION” it’s what happens when you try to convert an old language (Hebrew to Greek to Aramaic to Latin to English, [the more something is translated from the original the more likely the idea of ‘LOST IN TRANSLATION’ will occur.]) to modernity, some words just don’t fit today’s standards due to verbiage becoming outdated and heavily simplified losing that original flavor of the text if you don’t trust me just ask a qualified linguist. Now, let’s start on your “agreeance” with MAGICLIZARD’s comment of ” I believe Poptropica didn’t mean anything by lightening the skin tones, maybe just a fresh new look!”, now just me looking at this I can see so some faults with this statement which stems of “it’s just a fresh-look mentality” however, there’s more want to point them out or want me to continue? I guess I’ll continue, the first fault is “being opinionated while drawing a conclusion without any evidence”, it’s okay to have opinions if and only if it doesn’t harm, discriminate others, or brush off an important topic too hastily, which you obviously did Emu, towards your “Phobic” approach to the LGBTQ+ community in your comment “I know all of you believe that LGBT is okay, but that can’t stop me from trying to show y’all the truth.” now, that what urked me to write this statement, I refuse to believe someone is this arrogant as well as ignorant of the world around them, this stupid us vs. them mentality gotta stop before we just implode ourselves back to the dark ages of miscommunication. Now, you may state how, I’m just out for you, and then going on to attack my character saying “you interpreted it wrong”, “that’s not what I intended”, or some other statement that tries to hinder progress. I believe in a world of unity, however, far-fetched that is, I still want it to happen I want the world to stop using us vs. them mentality, so we can gather together and fight for the bigger problems, which are social acceptance, unity, and beneficial to us, we are all same, the difference is just our perspectives on the world and those around us, we can’t live in fear throughout our lives.

  7. Hi guys, I just want to say I’m really sorry. I’m super embarrassed about how I acted yesterday, I let my temper and attitude get a hold of me. While I still don’t think this is right, I do accept that some people believe this is right. It was actually interesting to hear different points of view. I hope I can be forgiven, but if not I understand.

      1. I’m sorry but you shouldn’t say ‘don’t apologize’ because it does not affect you personally. An apology is the least a person can do after talking in a condescending tone.I am not trying to be rude and I know you had good intention but it doesn’t work that way. I hope you understand.

    1. I don’t care much about someone’s tone. What I do care about, however, is opinions; cause that’s the only part that matters. I’m not at all okay with you viewing my existence as wrong, and I’m choosing to not forgive you.

      Others might be willing to forgive and forget, but it’s also worth noting that most – if not all – of those people are people who haven’t had to deal with being ostracized the same way I or my LGBT friends have. Those people don’t have anything to lose from these sorts of opinions because it doesn’t affect them personally.

    2. I accept your apology Emu. That happens to me a lot in real life when I lose my temper. Besides you just felt uncomfortable about the topic, I can also relate to that. Anyway, it’s glad to have you back

  8. discourse aside, i think this post is great. i think it’s fishy that they whitewashed dj saturday nite, and i would absolutely love to see more lgbt rep. thank you evra, this post was incredibly brave considering the backlash you got

  9. i don’t accept the apology because of how many insufferable years seeing too many people of the kind, so it’s really “wonderful” to see someone is capable enough to trigger someone’s trauma that really makes their apology is nothing more than just a provocation that’ll spark another discourse.

  10. Hmm, while Dr. Blandston (Goofball) uses they/them pronouns, that’s more of a case of unknown gender.

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