In my opinion, Club Penguin has succeeded in making one of the most popular, profitable, and enjoyable online games of all time because they have accidentally through strict filters, unintentional social classes, items, servers and more have created their own culture. I am writing this post to commemorate Club Penguin’s 10th anniversary (I would have made this post yesterday but I was busy getting coverage of Club Penguin Reunion).
First, let’s discuss the strict filters, we all dread them, but in my opinion they have helped lay the foundation to one of Club Penguin’s most valuable assets, its culture, specifically the lingo. The filters have made certain common phrases that most certainly do not have to be blocked, blocked. This leads to the players (myself included) making their own words, and phrases to circumvent the heavy filters, a seemingly unimportant, yet crucial factor in the enjoyment of Club Penguin, we have all own code phrases that we all know, and use.
Next is a big one, social classes. Its hard to imagine, but Club Penguin has its own social classes, I like to divide them as so: general players (role-players, talkers, etc.), popular general players (one well-known through out a server i.e. someone on Abominable known for their amazing igloos), “famous” penguins or “rare” penguins (popular Club Penguin bloggers, video makers, etc. or older penguins with items like the beta hat, red lei, etc.), and then at the top we have former, and current Club Penguin staff (i.e. Rsnail, Billybob, Polo, Spike Hike, etc.) Many players will do anything to try and move up these classes, or be a part of, or associated with a higher class and reach the ultimate possible goal of being “famous” (becoming a Club Penguin staff member is so improbable, most ignore it.) Don’t believe me? Then, explain why yesterday at the Club Penguin Reunion everyone was begging Rsnail, Chrisdog93, and other staff, or “famous” for postcards, or to add them. We all, whether we want to admit it or not would love the bragging rights of saying, “Rsnail added me”, or “Chrisdog93 sent me a postcard”. To do this, we buy memberships to stay “cool”, and we actively participate and are concerned with Club Penguin, because who knows? Maybe in that new catalog you’ll buy an item that will become “rare”, or maybe at that party, you’ll become friendly with Billybob and get a shout-out from him on Twitter. We make blogs, videos, and Twitters because we want to become “famous”. Everyone does things like this at some point (unless you are a Club Penguin staff member). I’ll even admit I’ve done it multiple times, and still do, why do you think I am so proud of Rsnail’s postcard to me? Why do you think I, or anyone else on this blog, or any for that matter works as hard as they do (aside from the fact blogging can be very rewarding, and enjoyable)?
Next, Club Penguin has common ideas on what’s cool. It’s cool to be “famous”, or rare” obviously, or to be associated with someone who is. It’s also cool to have certain desirable items (not necessarily rare ones), and to have a unique style, although I’ll get into the culture of Club Penguin’s items later. It’s also cool to know about Club Penguin, its history, its staff, and more. I’m always impressed when I hear penguins describing parties that I’ve been to and they haven’t better than I could. It’s also really cool to be apart of more exclusive, or elusive Club Penguin events.
Now, one of the most important causes of Club Penguin’s culture, items. Club Penguin has managed to make virtual items very important to players young and old alike, which is impressive. We all want items, for various reasons, I myself can think of me buying items in the hopes one day they’ll be “rare” (again, back to that concept. You’ve probably noticed, lots of these aspects of Club Penguin culture are intertwined), or I could use them in funny a way, or they simply look cool. I need to mention, because there is a high likelihood current Club Penguin staff will read this post (as Rsnail, Billybob, and Polo have confirmed they will be reading this) that “rare” items cannot continuously be brought back because if they are, it not only destroys the “rareness”, but it destroys a major aspect of Club Penguin culture, which is its strongest asset. Items show off where you’ve been, and what you’ve done on Club Penguin.
There is also the fashion aspect of Club Penguin. I chose to put this section here because it is a blend of “what’s cool”, and “items”. Club Penguin fashion is weird. If I saw someone dressed as they do in Club Penguin I would likely call the police. Yet, on Club Penguin it works, we enjoy our own weird, and unique fashion, and outfits. Our outfits are quilts of our favorite Club Penguin events, and out favorite things. We often try to display some of our “rarer” items as well. Let’s really quickly look at two examples of this, myself, and an actual former Club Penguin staff member.
Let’s look at my outfit. On the surface it looks like a cool, you can tell I am a long-time Club Penguin player, and yet the items involved are just plain strange together. I have a viking helmet, nerd glasses, a pirate’s shirt, a 12 year-old girl’s party necklace (haha), and a super expensive keytar (signed by Polo mind you!), yet for some reason I cannot afford shoes. I really enjoy the outfit, but I also realize how weird it is. That’s Club Penguin culture at it’s finest. I should also point out many people stop me, and ask to add me, not because of my blogging work, but because of my username, Desktop.
Okay, okay, I’m just a nobody, I’m not the most popular blogger of all time or anything, but let’s look at the outfit of one of my favorite Club Penguin staff members of all time, Polo.
Before you I continue, you should all know I really like Polo, and am not using his outfit specifically to insult him, I’m using it because it is a good example of this Club Penguin “fashion” we have, and the fact that even the staff use it. Polo is one of my favorite Club Penguin Staff members!
Again, on the big picture, Polo’s outfit is cool, it’s creative and unique. Yet, let’s look at what is really there, he’s wearing a graduation cap, and 3D glasses, which in the real world have yet to be worn together at the same time (lol), and he wears a video game shirt about a video game, on a video game, let’s not forget his satchel, coffee, and cowboy boots? Then, there is also the issue of why his animal has headphones on it. I do not know about you but I would not put headphones on my dog. In spite of how silly it sounds, it works, and we all to an extent have our own weird fashion choice, that everyone likes!
Lastly, Club Penguin servers are essential. I remember logging on and distinctively recognizing servers for what types of penguins go on it. On Sleet we had the “famous”, the “rare”, and their fans, on Mammoth we had the “Club Penguin armies”, and on Abominable we had the “preps”, and a little bit of everyone. Servers give people sub-areas to go to on Club Penguin and allow them to find other players with similar interests. For example if I wanted to do meet someone famous, I’d head to Sleet, if I felt like showing of my new igloo, I’d go to Abominable. Again, as there is a good likelihood current Club Penguin staff will be reading this post I’d like to warn you, you should not make Club Penguin online like the mobile. We need servers, it gives us places to go, and places to meet people with similar interests. I’d argue that I’d rather go to a server I want to go to then see a Club Penguin friend anyway!
In short, Club Penguin has accidentally made its own culture. All players experience this culture, and for the most part enjoy it. This is the reason why imitations such as private servers, or rival online games have never been able to compete with Club Penguin. This is the key to Club Penguin’s success.
Special thanks to: Club Penguin, the Club Penguin team members who agreed to read this: Lance Priebe, (A.K.A. Rsnail), Lane Merrifield (A.K.A. Billybob), Nate Sawatzky (A.K.A. Gizmo), Screenhog, and Chris Gliddon (A.K.A. Polo), my co-workers at Clubpenguinreveals.com, especially Mrzero3 the site’s founder, and you, the reader.
UPDATE: Almost all original staff members of Club Penguin have read the post, as soon as Lane Merrifield reads it, I’ll be posting their responses!