Written: 2019, Updated: 17/05/2022

If it weren't for Neopets, this site would not exist. I can't imagine I'm alone in learning HTML from Neopets' 'Pet Pages'. For each of your maximum 4 pets you had a html page that you could freely edit, and Neopets had a small HTML encyclopedia teaching the very basics. Looking at other pet pages for inspiration, I found various sites (such as "Mimisk8") dedicated to offering background images, 'kaoani' animated emoji characters, midi music, etc, all with a ready to copy-paste box of code to make it as easy as possible to add them to your site. Incidentally it was here that I first learned about Sailor Moon - which had never aired on terrestrial television in the UK. I also learned that "Cardcaptors" was known as "Cardcaptor Sakura" and had different music associated with it, though I still had no idea of it's Japanese origins so I imagined it was a USA vs UK regional difference.

With regards to Neopets itself, it was a fantastic site that offered so many activities for a child learning about the internet. Besides playing with the pet itself through simple images and text descriptions, there was a world to explore via illustrated maps that sent you to different places depending on where you clicked. There were also many Flash games to play, my favourite being Meerca Chase, a kind of Snake clone. I loved playing Snake on the old Nokia phones but was too young to own a phone myself, so I appreciated the opportunity to play it. There was also user shops that could be customised, and I loved seeing what people had come up with, and customising my own. There were the stock markets and plushie tycoon 'games' which I never understood until very recently. A game I discovered not long before I moved on from Neopets was 'Cheat'. I loved that game and still invite friends to play it with me when a deck of cards is on hand - though it seems that people tend to know it by a less child friendly name.

The 'Neopia Times' was also a great feature of the site. I looked forward to reading each new issue, especially the stories and comics. I dreamed of being featured in it myself one day, so I wrote stories and made terrible comics in MSPaint, without ever actually submitting them. I realised it would be necessary to create several comics up front, and got bored after only one page of each idea - something that would repeat throughout my life as an artist!

I continued playing Neopets until it reached seemingly the height of it's success. Real world toys and games started being released. I got an interactive Shoryu - who had been my first pet (because I loved dragons) - and a green Mynci. A new game was added to Neopets, Hanna and the Pirate Caves, which allowed you to create your own levels using a map editor. This couldn't have been more perfect for me. I loved making levels and playing through others' levels.

I went back to play Neopets before much of the site would become lost due to Flash support ending. Unsurprisingly, my old accounts had been purged along with many other abandonned accounts, but to my surprise one of my neopets still existed. Not my original Shoyru, but my second pet; a Zafara. It seems that after my account was deleted, the pet was put in the pound and adopted by another user (who has since abandonned their account too).