Club Penguin: a retrospective

The silent and subtle push and influence we have on the world is all around us all the time. In the same vein, the world pushes back—it influences us just as silently. Strangers we might never meet again become good friends, then they disappear into their obscurity never to be seen again.

Video games have taught me that. They have shown me that the world is alive around us, that the world is inhabited by people like me who enjoy games and live to have a bit of fun, but no game taught me that better than Club Penguin.

What a nostalgic game that is for me. The hours I spent making the perfect pizzas, complaining to myself about how impossible it got at a certain point. The time I spent perfecting my abilities just to win Card-Jitsu, despite it being a simple game of rock-paper-scissors. The days I spent going around after major updates and seeing what was new; those days still stick with me.

I remember when they made the Puffle⁠ shop into a hotel. There was this massive quest about getting a rainbow Puffle. I spent so much of my time trying to get it and to no avail. Yet it wasn’t just that I was a stupid kid⁠—I mean, I was–but it was due to the membership locks. 

I can’t think of a time when I had a Club Penguin membership, and that locked so much content behind a small paywall. I couldn’t have the cosmetics that I wanted, and I was locked into having basic Puffles–no rainbow, dog, or cat ones for me.

Yet, I didn’t mind all of that. It was the constriction of what I could do that made it hard. Sure, cosmetics were lacking, but some minigames had entire sections locked behind the membership. 

Puffle Rescue, for example, had several different modes that were impossible to reach. Locked behind these extra modes was a door—a door that taunted me with its mystery and intrigue. It sat locked, and every time I played, I hoped it would open; I never found out what was behind it.

The time I spent perfecting my abilities just to win Card-Jitsu, despite it being a simple game of rock-paper-scissors. The days I spent going around after major updates and seeing what was new; those days still stick with me.”

My enjoyment of the game was limited by my lack of membership, but the game was still incredibly fun. Looking back, I know that it was what I looked forward to the most. Coming home and seeing a new update—that feeling was sublime.

Card-Jitsu was fun, and eventually, I managed to become a blackbelt and subsequently a ninja—a highlight in my gaming career. Yet, coming home one day to see that there were three new and different Card-Jitsu game modes? Mind-blowing and utterly spectacular.

That day I spent so many hours on the game. That day I fell in love with the game again. It’s for that reason that Club Penguin is so nostalgic in my mind. Playing the game I love and seeing a new update was so unheard of to my little mind. 

Getting my invite to the Elite Penguin Force has been forever ingrained into my mind, mastering all the different modes of Card-Jitsu has never left me, and losing all of the friends that I had still hurts.

Club Penguin was a spectacular game that helped me become the person I am today. It brought me joy to play with those strangers whom I haven’t talked to in a decade, but it’s shut down now, and those connections are gone.

I’m just glad I was there when it was still open. I’m glad I was there when we flipped the iceberg. I’m glad that I had something to look forward to every day. I’m glad for all the connections I had made with those strangers. They made an impact on me, and I am forever grateful for all of it.