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The Neopets Addiction
December 7, 2005 8:46 PM   Subscribe

The Neopets Addiction: Neopets.com has a staggering 25 million members worldwide... Four out of five Neopians are under age 18, and two out of five are under 13... Neopets calls its model "immersive advertising... an evolutionary step forward in the traditional marketing practice of product placement."... Kalle Lasn, editor in chief of the advertising watchdog magazine Adbusters says, "It's the most insidious mind-fuck ever."
posted by MetaMonkey (54 comments total)

 
WELCOME TO INTERNET 2.0
posted by Azhruwi at 8:47 PM on December 7, 2005


hehe
posted by thirteenkiller at 8:48 PM on December 7, 2005


that reminds me. i haven't check up on my pet in years.
posted by Stynxno at 8:51 PM on December 7, 2005


I think there have been more insidious mind-fucks, like National Socialism for instance.
posted by Protocols of the Elders of Awesome at 8:52 PM on December 7, 2005


"It's the most insidious mind-fuck ever."

God I love Adbusters.
posted by Mijo Bijo at 8:54 PM on December 7, 2005


Dohring brought two things to the company: expertise in market research and a deep commitment to the principles of Scientology.
posted by LimePi at 8:56 PM on December 7, 2005


According to Alexa's traffic rankings, neopets is currently ranked 101 while metafilter is only 5601.

http://www.alexa.com/

posted by thecollegefear at 8:57 PM on December 7, 2005


“Having used L. Ron Hubbard’s Administrative Technology in every business activity and endeavor for nearly two decades now, his organizational concepts are always with me. Using these highly workable principles has become almost second nature to me. I use this technology in every aspect of operating my companies: management, personnel, marketing, finance, operations, quality control, public relations, and much more.

hahahaha.
posted by delmoi at 8:58 PM on December 7, 2005


I was going to make a post about how I remember when... but I realized that it would only make me look like a loser.
posted by luftmensch at 9:13 PM on December 7, 2005


Occasionally, Neopets does give in to criticism. After parents' groups raised an outcry over kids gambling for NeoPoints, the company limited access to its roulette, blackjack, and slots to players 13 and over (a cutoff many find ludicrous and arbitrary). But Dohring didn't respond to outcries of Neopians who lost their shirts on the Neodaq, a stock market in which all members can invest their NeoPoints. "Around the time of the Enron scandal, we bankrupted three of those companies just for the hell of it," he says. The Neopians weren't amused. "They were saying, 'This is no fair!'" he recalls with a laugh. "But, hey, stuff happens in the world."

LOL.
posted by delmoi at 9:20 PM on December 7, 2005


I am not going to create a neopet just because it's exams and I need distractions. I am not. No. Negative.
posted by stray at 9:29 PM on December 7, 2005


Should we really care, as long as it's consensual?
posted by spock at 9:30 PM on December 7, 2005


This differs from WOW how?
posted by sourwookie at 9:31 PM on December 7, 2005


If you're going to play pointless internet games (and I think we all do), you may as well pretend you're doing it to build to something bigger. Even if that "something bigger" is a little house for a neopet.
posted by booksandlibretti at 9:36 PM on December 7, 2005


Should we really care, as long as it's consensual?

Can children really consent?

If it were up to me I would ban advertizing geard twoards children. But obviously it's not.
posted by delmoi at 9:39 PM on December 7, 2005


I used to play neopets, I even bought them a house, but the Wired article turned me off towards going back.
posted by drezdn at 9:45 PM on December 7, 2005


I can't resist. It didn't always used to be a constant advertising barrage. At first there were no ads, then tiny static images on the left bar to help defray server costs as it grew. At some point they decided to start actually making money, and then the massive ads/product tie-ins/merchandise deals begun.
posted by luftmensch at 9:46 PM on December 7, 2005


My kids between them have signed up for like seventeen accounts (and been responsible for a veritable neo-necropolis), because they are five and seven and can't remember their passwords. So I would take the 25 million number with a grain of salt.
posted by hob at 9:52 PM on December 7, 2005


My wife is hooked on Neopets - she doesn't get into the raising of cyber animals, though, she's just in it for the games. Every day she banks the max amount of points, and has an account with millions of neobucks (or whatever they're called).

Anyone know if these are transferrable? She'd love to sell off her stack on ebay or sumthin.
posted by davelog at 9:53 PM on December 7, 2005


Can't sell neopoints, davelog. Well, you could, but not on EBay, as EBay cancels all such auctions.

The going rate in private sales appears to be 20-50K in neopoints for a dollar.
posted by solid-one-love at 10:12 PM on December 7, 2005


I agree delmoi; there's an element of evil in advertising geared towards children.
They're just too easy to manipulate and too gullible.
posted by jouke at 10:30 PM on December 7, 2005


Another massive Interweb fad I've never heard of before. Man, I'm getting old.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 10:32 PM on December 7, 2005


so if it's a mind fuck and it's not consensual, do we have mind raping now?
posted by muppetboy at 10:48 PM on December 7, 2005


They used to advertise like crazy for programmers, graphics people, even writers. (Los Angeles, three or five years ago, maybe still today.) I should've figured they came from the Earthlink Co$ branch of SoCal internets ....

Sometimes I wonder if TomKat and "Battlefield Earth" disasters are just to distract us from whatever the hell is *really* going on ... like 2.2 billion page views a month for a Scientology virtual-pet site selling cereal and Happy Meals to children ... what else are they marketing in there? Who but a child would have the patience to find out?
posted by kenlayne at 11:04 PM on December 7, 2005


my girlfriend was hooked on this shit for about two weeks before i shamed her into stopping. Now she sits in front of the tv tuned to static and just stares at the computer.
posted by Tryptophan-5ht at 11:05 PM on December 7, 2005


My biggest fear and shame is life is that the whole internet will find out about my addiction to writing Neopet slash fiction.
posted by loquacious at 11:06 PM on December 7, 2005


Oh... fuck! :(
posted by loquacious at 11:06 PM on December 7, 2005


My Neopet is OT 8. He's not even left-handed anymore.
posted by I Foody at 11:07 PM on December 7, 2005


Now she sits in front of the tv tuned to static and just stares at the computer.

During these times, does she let you... do things?
posted by disillusioned at 11:32 PM on December 7, 2005


There she lay a broken collection of human flotsam; the once exuberant face of Sharon lie gazing at the ceiling where I left her. I look to her and sigh with regret. For I had to make my own pot roast now.
posted by thirteenkiller at 11:53 PM on December 7, 2005


This differs from WOW how?

The ads, I think. WoW's virtual world is thankfully devoid of real-world products. Sure, there are heaps of pop-culture references, but as far as I know they're not paid for.
posted by krisjohn at 12:27 AM on December 8, 2005


My daughter was hooked on Neopets from 11-14 years. Happily, she outgrew Neopets and replaced it with another addiction - Metafilter. (It was the mushrooms that hooked her.)
posted by Pigpen at 1:53 AM on December 8, 2005


Metafilter: it's not yer momma mind fuck ! it's YOURS !
posted by elpapacito at 3:31 AM on December 8, 2005


> My daughter was hooked on Neopets from 11-14 years.

Mine lived on the site from about age 12 to 14. Then she got bored and left. She says "It's totally different now. It used to be that everybody knew each other. It's just not the same since it got huge." Like Metafilter.
posted by jfuller at 4:01 AM on December 8, 2005


25 million users.

And this is the first I heard of it...
posted by 13twelve at 5:17 AM on December 8, 2005


I know a grown man who slacks off at his job because of neopets. I tried to figure out what his obsession was, but honestly I couldn't even look the at site for ten seconds before saying "this is boring as fucking hell."

Is it a variable interval reward schedule like MMORPGs or what?
posted by Optimus Chyme at 5:29 AM on December 8, 2005


It was the mushrooms that hooked her

You mean the portabellos, right?
posted by runkelfinker at 5:45 AM on December 8, 2005


I had a neopets character for awhile - I was about 25 at the time. I wanted to like it, found some of the little games fun in a popcap sort of way, but found the whole navigation and server response so painfully slow that I just gave up. It might be amusing as a game, but as a website, it sucks ass.
posted by jacquilynne at 6:04 AM on December 8, 2005


I remember my NeoPets. MacHoulihan, Sianae, Trinculo... I abandoned them, and I'm sure they all starved to death years ago. I'm a bad, bad man.
posted by Faint of Butt at 6:46 AM on December 8, 2005


I was once offered a (paid) job as Neopets monitor, but didn't take it. And that (not taking it) was probably the best thing I ever did online.
posted by easternblot at 6:50 AM on December 8, 2005


Neopets. What a great idea. This way, your fatass kid doesn't have to get up early and walk an actual dog around the block. Brilliant.
posted by Afroblanco at 7:05 AM on December 8, 2005


OMG, Neopets made Wired AND Metafilter? You've got to be kidding me. Heh.

This differs from WOW how?
posted by sourwookie at 11:31 PM CST on December 7


Neopets is just as addictive as any other MMORPG. You want to get that latest and greatest item for your pet; you want to make your pet into a great battle pet; you want to save up 1 million neopoints. Whatever you want to do. Unlike WoW, your pets are static; you can't move them around or do anything with them, other than look at them, really. Even in the Battledome, it's a menu-driven thing: you have a choice and the program decides the outcome of the move.

You can pay to have ads taken off. It's known as Premium, and costs $7.99/month. (Should I admit now that I am a premium user?) But you don't have to play to pay. You can have just as good an experience without paying. I personally hate the ads, and I like the game, so I chose to pay. I will admit, the site is not as fun as it used to be when I first started playing in 2001 because of the scammers.

Is it a variable interval reward schedule like MMORPGs or what?
posted by Optimus Chyme at 7:29 AM CST on December 8


I would say that the advantage to playing all the time is getting random events, otherwise known as "Something has happened!" (SHH) events, which you can get randomly when you go to a different page in the website or refresh a page. This could be getting a rare paintbrush, which you can use on your pet, resell, or keep; getting a "negative" event like having something stolen by the Pant Devil (a character on the site); getting random amounts of Neopoints; or getting a Faerie quest among other things. SHH events don't happen every time you refresh a page, but the possibility keeps you coming back for more.

Machoulihan Sianae Trinculo

Those are some very nice pets. Looks like they're all doing great, FoB. :)
posted by cass at 7:18 AM on December 8, 2005


The sad thing is, it started out as a very cute and fun place - I visited it the other day after reading a blurb about it - first time I'd seen it in a few years...and man...that place is drowning in ads.
posted by agregoli at 7:22 AM on December 8, 2005


Holy crap. I started a Neopets account when I was in their target demographic, and then I left it alone for years. When I came to college, someone linked to the site and I remembered I had an account there. I started logging in again because let's face it, when I'm trying to write a paper I will be playing silly games online, and I may as well do it there.

However, I've had Firefox + Adblock since I came to college (cass, do this if you want to save $8/month). I only used Adblock to kill the actual ads, not to ditch Lucky Charms games or whatever, but I just disabled Adblock and went to the site, and holy crap. I would not be playing if I had to look at all that shit all over the page. (Although it's worth mentioning that not all of their games -- not even the majority, I'd say -- have product placement. There's a version of Tetris, a version of Hangman, a version of Pyramids . . . that stuff, plus some of their originals, is what I play.)
posted by booksandlibretti at 7:35 AM on December 8, 2005


"This differs from WOW how?"

1. Your Neopet doesn't get pwnt in battlegrounds by invincible players from epic gear-farming guilds.

2. The folks at Blizzard aren't dicks.

3. Apprently, the Neopet economy is more rational.
posted by majick at 7:43 AM on December 8, 2005


Those are some very nice pets. Looks like they're all doing great, FoB. :)

Well, holy cow. I was sure the account would have been deleted for inactivity. I guess they got rid of the whole starving thing, since it was so depressing.

That said, I never knew about the Scientology connection. Creepy.
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:51 AM on December 8, 2005


My employer blocks neopets. This is probably a good thing.
posted by raedyn at 8:06 AM on December 8, 2005


If it were up to me I would ban advertizing geard towards children. But obviously it's not.

Not all advertising, whether it's geared toward children or adults, is bad. And parents have to teach their children how to think critically about what they see and hear. No point banning advertising for anyone under, say, 18 only to have young adults swamped with 'buy me!' messages and having no clue how to cut through the hype.
posted by Zinger at 10:17 AM on December 8, 2005


I just want to let people know... that NeoPets is controlled by Scientologist. No joke, really.

I am working with people who worked for them who got the inside scoop.

I also interviewed there as a developer, and they require that you take an 'intelligence' test. Which was rather silly, and well, ask some bizarre questions.

Here's a quick link but i am sure you guys can find more. link
posted by countzen at 10:59 AM on December 8, 2005


In the writings of Scientology leader L. Ron Hubbard, Dohring discovered a business model that would later become the foundation of the Neopets operation. "He created a management technology that's very powerful," Dohring says. Hubbard's companies follow a system of departmental organization called the Org Board, which he claimed was a refinement of one used by "an old Galactic civilization" that lasted 80 trillion years.

Read this last night in my dead-tree Wired and was profoundly disturbed by the nature of the product as well as several statements that they'd be "bigger than Disney". Dohring gets painted with something of a manic brush by the article.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 11:14 AM on December 8, 2005


Also never heard of this. Must get out more.
posted by fixedgear at 1:50 PM on December 8, 2005


The very scary thing about this is that it puts big bucks into Scientology's pockets. Not good. Not good at all.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:01 PM on December 8, 2005


I played back in 2000 or 2001. Just checked on my pets and they're not there. Evil Scientologists indeed.
posted by deborah at 5:33 PM on December 8, 2005


Occasionally, Neopets does give in to criticism. After parents' groups raised an outcry over kids gambling for NeoPoints, the company limited access to its roulette, blackjack, and slots to players 13 and over

It's surprising that they waited for an outcry before setting a gambling age limit. And who decided that 13 is an appropriate age limit for gambling?!
posted by After the Jump at 10:32 AM on December 9, 2005


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