Creators' Blog Guest Posts

Interview with Slanted Fish from the Poptropica Creators 🎤🐠

This interview was originally published on the Poptropica Creators’ Blog along with a call to go vote in the 2021 Poppies. Enjoy!

1. How were you first introduced to Poptropica?

My younger brother found Poptropica on Funbrain and introduced it to me. Back then, we would go on Funbrain to read Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid before it became a printed book series!

2. Who do you think is the most underrated character? Overrated?

  • Most underrated character: Elf Queen from Twisted Thicket. She doesn’t seem to get mentioned much in the fandom, but her leafy design is absolutely magical, and her storyline very fitting for our modern climate crisis.
  • Most overrated character: Dr. Hare, who might just be the most marketed Pop character (he even had a whole LEGO campaign at one point!). But we love him anyway.

3. What are your favorite scenes, aesthetically and to play through?

It’s hard to pick a favorite scene as there are so many that are visually stunning! But to highlight a few, I love the aesthetics of the Imperial Garden on Red Dragon (especially the cherry blossom trees), and the various interactive puzzles on Nabooti, such as the mancala game and the fox-chicken-cornfeed conundrum.

4. What was your inspiration in creating and furthering the Poptropica Help Blog (PHB)?

I was inspired to create a blog after seeing lots of fan blogs for other online games I enjoyed at the time, especially Club Penguin (rip). I stumbled into a Poptropica focus somewhat accidentally when setting up the site on WordPress: while thinking about the URL, I discovered that poptropica.wordpress.com was untaken, and it felt like too good of an opportunity to pass up. So that was the PHB’s first URL, which illustrates the dearth of Poptropica fan sites at the time, and how we were able to fill that gap on the internet.

What inspired me to keep going was everything else that followed. I was amazed by how quickly the site grew in readership, fueled by all the amazing things Poptropica has been doing, especially in the heart and depth of storytelling through gameplay in its myriads of island adventures. Even as the game changes and people come and go, what I enjoy about the PHB is how it continues to be a space for Poptropicans to share their ideas, fan art, and friendships. If you’re interested, I’ve written more about this on the PHB’s Philosophy page.

Poptropica Creator Dr. Lange’s drawing of the PHB team (2014)

5. How has your PHB career surprised you?

As the previous Q&A touches on, I’ve been surprised by the rapid popularity of the PHB (it reached 1 million views in its first year, and 13 years later, has over 35 million). But I’m not too concerned about the statistics—I’m more interested in cultivating the quality of people’s visits, and to that end it’s been a blessing to hear from so many Poptropicans over the years who’ve enjoyed what the PHB offers.

Another surprise is the creativity and intensity of so many fans’ Pop-inspired passions, which help shape what the PHB brings to the fandom, from personal My Place in Poptropica stories to discoveries of Pop Places IRL. It’s definitely not a one-person operation—credit goes to the many, many Poptropicans who make it all possible!

Banner Day: Let your freak flag fly.

6. What does the Pop community mean to you?

To me, it’s as simple as a gathering of people who enjoy Poptropica. They can be of all ages — some are even in their twenties like me. Poptropica fans are creative (just look at all the fan art, blogs, and videos), clever (we enjoy solving puzzles and finding trivia), and concerned (we support each other and sometimes critique for the good of the game we love). Above all, we’re united in our passion for Pop!

7. From your perspective, how has the community changed over the past 12 years?  

The biggest change I’ve noticed personally is that the kids have gotten older. Though Poptropica has always been aimed at kids, it’s fascinating to see how teens and young adults (myself included) still participate in the fandom, often returning from childhood nostalgia and sticking around for the community and inspired storytelling (perhaps even creating some of their own). Of course, young kids are still around. From my perspective, even children are capable of enjoying Poptropica’s more sophisticated stories, particularly those from the classic islands.

Friendly Folk: All so nice and polite, for a while at least.

8. How have your experiences with the community and Poptropica influenced you IRL?

Poptropica’s many whimsical worlds — from the medieval madness of Astro-Knights to the genie glamor of Arabian Nights — have inspired my art and writing, and widened my appreciation for digital storytelling and cultural connections.

As for the PHB, it has given me a space to write about something I care about, to carefully consider how to express ideas, and help the blog’s staff and guest writers do the same. Having our content read by so many fellow fans is a responsibility, privilege, and a great encouragement to keep building the blessing.

The skills, friendships, and passions developed over many years of playing and creating carry over to other areas of life too. For me, that has included earning my undergrad degree in English and pursuing a career in communications. With all the diversity in Poptropica and its community comes great potential for many more Poptropicans!

Fish Face: These ocean-dwellers are getting animated.

Favorites

  • Costume: Fish kimono from Red Dragon
  • Island: Shark Tooth
  • Backstory/Lore: How islands appear in the world of Poptropica through a central spot in the sea called the Nexus, as described in Poptropica graphic novel #4: The End of Time.
  • Hero: Max McGullicutty from Survival
  • Villain: Scheherazade

Thank you, Poptropica Creators, for hosting this interview with me (and for calling the PHB “the leading fan-run Poptropica blog” in the original post 😁). Keep on popping on, Poptropicans! ✌️

~Slanted Fish 🐟🐡🐠💙

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! 📰✨

Uncategorized

Pop 5: Best-Dressed Characters in Poptropica II

Heyo everybody! You may remember a post I wrote for the PHB back in September, highlighting my top favorite character outfits in Poptropica. Well, since then, after several more extensive tours of Poptropican fashion, I’ve realized that the five lucky characters I showcased last time barely scraped the surface!

There are over fifty islands on Poptropica’s map, and each of them displays equally unique and appealing style; so it seemed unfair that only five should be given a chance to shine! That’s why I decided to continue the fashion show with five more spotlight-worthy characters from across the islands. From the glamorous to the rugged, the old-fashioned to the outrageous, and everything in between, this new show’s sure to have something for everybody!

5: Mordred

Starting off the show, we have a taste of centuries-old apparel from the kingdom of Arturus! It’s clear that pre-robotized Mordred had an excellent sense of dress; right off the bat, the main purple-and-yellow color scheme is perfectly eye-catching, and the lace neck ruff, gleaming amulet, and neatly styled hair and beard add to the medieval aesthetics. The plume on top of the hat gives a satisfying flourish, making him an easy head to spot in the crowd! There’s no better example of old-fashioned yet likable style than from the genius Mordred himself!

4: Captain Slarx

Up next, let’s skip ahead a few hundred years to the much more modernized world of PoptropiCon! Captain Slarx, the master of Fremulon, doesn’t often receive a whole lot of attention, but I thought such an out-of-this-world costume definitely deserved a spotlight! The star of this style is, naturally, the purple alien mask, complete with shining red eyes and wildly waving tentacles; it’s no wonder that Poptropican in the bathroom line wanted one so badly. The red cropped top and skirt, with their sharp shoulder shapes (try saying that five times fast) and metal belt, add to the futuristic fashion look as well. May this fine Poptropican’s Zazzleblax be ever abundant.

3: Master of Ceremonies

In third place, we hop on over to Poptropolis Games Island, where the wonderfully dressed Master of Ceremonies waits to announce the Tribes! There are multiple pieces of this outfit that convinced me to award him a place on this list. Firstly, the blue-and-white toga echoes the styles of Ancient Greece, a place well-known for its competitive Olympic Games (which Poptropolis is based off of) and is therefore perfect for the Master of Ceremonies’ job. The microphone accessory is also another reminder of this Poptropican’s important position, as it’s not everybody who gets to announce the centennial Poptropolis Games! The green leaf crown follows the tropical rainforest scheme shown throughout the island, and also serves a double purpose to keep the neatly styled hair propped up! Once the Tribes have finished competing, it’s only fair to give our Master of Ceremonies a round of applause as well.

2: Persian Dancer(s)

Coming in second, here’s another Poptropican (or three, to be accurate) who deserve plenty more recognition than they got. These beautiful dancers from the Chicago World’s Fair were the very first Poptropicans to spin a full 360 degrees! Quite an accomplishment indeed. But, as this list isn’t about great Poptropican feats, we’ll skim over their physical abilities and take a look at those gorgeous outfits! Each dancer sports a semi-see-through sash of orange and pink colors; sashes that, in fact, twirl with them when they spin, creating a most beautiful effect. The striped, rustic colored skirts also show off splendid motion, and the gold band on their thick curly hair is echoed in the beaded necklaces. Overall, the color schemes, hairdos, and silk accessories combined create what (should have been) some of Poptropica’s most unforgettable looks!

1: Daphne Dreadnaught

And here is our first place winner…the little-known but extremely fashionable ghost-hunter, Daphne Dreadnaught! I’m not going to deny being a bit biased on this one, as she is one of my very top favorite characters. But I hope we can all agree that this is a spectacular style that deserved much more showtime than it got in the Spook Central mini quest alone! I’ll do my best not to rant about all that, though, so let’s dive on in to just why I love this outfit so much! The short black hair and its streaks of shocking white create an awesome hairstyle whose colors are copied nicely throughout the rest of the outfit, including in the black pants and white undershirt. The leather brown and shiny silver of the ghost-hunting goggles are also shown in other places, mainly on that fabulous vest and clasped collar, but also in the handheld hammer accessory! All in all, I’ll never get tired of looking at this one. 🖤

Well Poptropicans, that’s all this show’s got today! I hope you enjoyed examining some of these lesser-known fashionistas in the second part of my Poptropica-wide fashion tour. There are still many more amazing styles that I did not feature on this list, so let’s have one final round of applause for all those well-dressed Poptropicans who failed to make it into this post; and feel free to let us know down in the comments who you would choose for your own Poptropica fashion tour!

~Purple Paw 💜

Pop Petitions

Pop Petition: What We Want From Characters

Pop Petition Header

Hey Poptropicans, SD here to bring you another Pop Petitions post! Like our islands petition, I want to focus on a very important game element. So today, we’ll be taking a look at what makes a good character engaging!

Unlike previous petitions, this post won’t emphasize so much on what the Creators are “doing wrong,” but more on simply what we love about a great character, and thus what we hope to see more of. Let’s get started!

#1: Character Development

We understandably can’t see a whole lot of development in every single character we meet in Poptropica. That’s just too unrealistic, as we can’t learn every detail about everyone. Still, development is important when it comes to making characters with depth.

tribalcharactersketches_00

Most importantly, we need to see development in major characters that have an influence on plot. I’m talking about those who get the spotlight, the most prominent example being villains. If every villain were the same, Poptropica would get pretty darn boring, pretty darn fast.

The game isn’t a novel or a movie, so we can’t expect a whole lot, but I for one still love seeing someone’s personality evolve. Is that asking too much from a kid’s game? I really don’t think so, as it’s kinda important to teach kids that people can change, especially after slowly learning a big lesson. Isn’t that what educational games are about? While 2D art can be amazing, 2D characters are much less impressive.

#2: Diverse Clothing

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Customizing is a huge part of Poptropica, at least for me. Costume contests are hosted, ASGs are made, rare items are collected, etc. So, fans are always looking out for cool new clothes! Besides ads and the occasional store update, NPCs are the main way to find unique new accessories. There isn’t much diversity in things like body type in Poptropica, but clothing can still be wide-ranged!

awesomecostume8

When designing a character, their clothing is obviously very important. What they’re wearing gives insight on their personality and significance in the island, but it should also catch the eye of various players. We’ve all seen development sketches of our favorite NPCs! The Creators can be meticulous in getting designs to be perfect.

The Creators have started to implement more modern fashion, which I personally think is a step in the right direction. These modern clothing options are more likely to appeal to newer players. The more unique clothing can be found throughout the game, the more diverse Poptropicans can be made, which is more accurate to real life. Having lots of detail in an outfit can really make a Poptropican feel individual!

#3: Captivating Dialogue

Other than appearance, dialogue is a prominent way in which a Poptropican’s personality shines through. The way someone talks can hint at what kind of person they are, in addition to their role in an island (just like clothing). Our own Poptropican’s speech can’t easily match our own in real life, but the variety of NPCs’ dialogue options are kinda endless.

drharedialogue3

Word choice is particularly important in a kid’s game, as it can be used as a tool to expand the player’s vocabulary, but can’t be so complex that it’s hard to understand. Humor is often used throughout speech in Poptropica, which is perfect for the tone of the game. Plus, this isn’t a novel so characters shouldn’t be spouting out paragraphs upon paragraphs of text.

The back and forth conversation can’t be super long, but it also needs to move the plot forward. In order to not be a chore to read, the script needs to be captivating. Jokes and lines that build excitement are strongly needed! A balance needs to be reached in order to not only be easy for the target audience to read, but also entertaining!

#4: Individual Personality

I’ve already mentioned this factor in previous categories, but I still feel like it deserves its own spot. In any form of entertainment, whether that be literature, movies, shows, or games, the characters need to be unique! A pretty simple concept, but sometimes hard to make a reality.

58844-newquizzes

There are many ways to show a character’s personality, even in a simple game like Poptropica. These include appearance and dialogue, like I’ve said, but also things like actions and location. A favorite character should be hard to choose, merely because how diverse real people are. It’s important to keep the young target audience in mind, and make many significant characters easy to relate to in some way.

Similar to real life, not all Poptropicans should be perfect. When developing a character, flaws and quirks need to be embraced just as much as desired traits! Doing this gives even an NPC a bit more depth, believably, and interest. Rounding out these characters makes a game so much more immersive and enjoyable! Seriously, I would die for some of my favorite characters.

#5: A Purpose

Something easy to overlook, but still (in my opinion) important. Characters should not just be included in a scene to take up space. NPCs need some purpose to be where they are, to wear what they’re wearing, and to say what they say. Does background Poptropican #17 catch your eye?

mysterytrain14

Before you ignore my point, I know that we can’t take a close up look at every single minor islander and see what their purpose in life is. It isn’t necessary to think that significantly on characters that don’t have that much impact on plot. Save that for your fan-fics. Still, Poptropicans shouldn’t be randomly places on streets. Unless the Early Poptropicans on main-street just really like standing in the sun all day? No shame in that I guess.

Unless you’re going for an abandoned, Steamworks Island theme, characters should be generously placed around an island to create atmosphere. That, like other elements I’ve touched on, adds to a sense of immersion. Still, some thought should be put into why a character is a certain way, relatively simple purposes included. This is similar to how actors create backstories for their characters, to really give them life! Even a mundane purpose, because it’s not uncommon, makes a character realistic.


Remember that this post isn’t meant to bash the Creators, but instead voice the opinions and suggestions of fans. In fact, there are many instances in which Poptropica characters check all these boxes! We all want Poptropica to be as awesome as possible!

So, what are your thoughts? Do you agree with our list? What kinds of characters do you want to see in the future? Be sure to let us know what other Pop Petitions we should make as well!

~SD

Poptropica Worlds, Sneak Peeks

A Whole New World: A Whole New Avatar

Hey everyone, Spotted Dragon here with overused puns as usual! Believe me, I know that Aladdin has been referenced way too much when we talk about Poptropica Worlds around here, but the title was just waiting to be used.

Anyway, the PHB isn’t the only thing around here with a new look! 😀

changing avatar

The Creators provided us with a new post earlier today explaining how our Poptropicans’ looks will be changing when Poptropica Worlds rolls around. While we already saw the avatar’s new look in the trailer, this post does explain it a bit more clearly.

new avatar look

See what I mean? We already knew that our characters would be earning themselves some hands and shoes, but it looks like their whole looks will be more defined.

Some key changes:

  • Growth spurts (taller avatars – the legs are more proportional)
  • Joints (including more realistic movement, presumably)
  • Feet (with shoes)
  • Hands (of course! and Oliver is wearing a wristwatch – suggesting more customization options in that area)

Since Unity and Spine will be used when making Poptropica Worlds, our Poptropicans will supposedly be much more customizable.

As seen in the image above, the 4-fingered hands will have 4 different positions, of which will change depending on the movement of your character. This will hopefully lead to nicer looking animation, like the running that’s shown.

Though there are some conflicting opinions on all this change, there is no denying that the announcement of hands has left everyone on YouTube excited in one way or another.

Poptropica Worlds has been controversial lately, but I have to say I am trying to stay optimistic. I like that the art style is still clearly “Poptropica” even though more detail has been added. I’m hoping this improvement in art reflects the other “improvements” and changes being made.

While this is it for now, the Creators have promised more sneak peeks into Poptropica Worlds in the next few weeks! Let’s hope the update comes out as scheduled this time, right? 😉

~SD