Monday, October 31, 2016

Neopian Economics

By Destiny Dowling

Childhood is an essential period of time in a person's life. It is the time where we learn our basic skills, and the ways in which the world works. According, children consume over three hours of media in a typical day. 

One of my favorite games, since elementary school, is This children's gaming site ranks #4, right below World of Warcraft, in roleplaying games. Launching in 1999, it is still up and running today. This site is reflects a mini market economy and community. There are elements of an economy incorporated within the website, such as a stock market, a bank, a trading post, a food bank, an auction house, etc. Neopets is a great website, however, it still has its faults. 

If you are interested, here is a video explaining its history:

Here are some articles that people have written, to give you an idea of the nature of the website: 

1. What online games, if any, did you play when you were a child? Do you think that the children are aware of the educational / real-life concepts that are incorporated in the games that they play? Why or why not?

2. Is Neopets helpful or harmful? What are the benefits of Neopets? What are the costs? Do the benefits outweigh the costs?

3. There are two money sources within the site: neopoints, and neocash. Neopoints are earned by playing games within the site. Neocash is purchased with real-world money. Do you have a problem with either of these sources of virtual income for children? Why or why not?

4. Should children's gaming sites be more like Neopets? Why or why not?


  1. I truly enjoyed reading about NeoPets. I actually was in university when NeoPets became a thing, and I dabbled in it for a few weeks before turning back to the sweet, soft embrace of my Sony Playstation. In any case, I found that the NeoPets market is much like the market for Magic: the Gathering cards.

    1. As a kid, I didn’t really play online games as online games were still in their infancy. However, I played other games, and I learned a lot about winning, losing and gamesmanship. You can learn a lot about people when they are a die roll away from world domination or humiliation. I also think that a lot of “grinding” games, games where people spend time doing relatively menial tasks to earn currency or prizes, are rewarding to children because they provide rewards for work, as well as opportunities to develop strategies to optimize their resources. As a child, I remember going to weekly Magic: the Gathering meetings at UAF. To this day, it stings after being horribly ripped off my first few times attending the meetings. However, I took my lumps, and I started to engage in a lot of shopping. I would talk up the other people interested in trading, and I would remember what they were interested in obtaining. I would then find traders interested in trading those cards I knew were in demand. I would remember what particularly generous traders would be looking for. In doing so, I gained position in trades. By trading for cards that other people wanted, I removed them from the market, meaning that people were more likely to come to me. I also made sure that I would try to return some of the generosity some of the other traders showed me. It was good business. It helped me develop a positive reputation amongst the other traders, and more often than not, the adult traders would return whatever sort of largesse I had given with interest.
    Fast forward about 10 years. I took the lessons I learned as a kid, about 1000 dollars in cards, the advice of professional Magic players I had befriended and turned those things into about 800 dollars a month for 2 years. When I cashed out of my little enterprise, I had over 20,000 dollars in cards. Most of the cards were sold to a store, but I maintain a decent collection to this day.

    2. Neopets, like any hobby, can be helpful or harmful. It’s helpful in that it destresses kids, lets them use their imaginations, allows them to play and have fun. There is nothing wrong with that. However, if it is overused, it can be a problem. The present day statistic that children are only reading 20 minutes a day, while using over 2 hours of multimedia a day is alarming. While there may be some lessons children can learn from playing NeoPets, in my opinion, there isn’t as much there compared to actually playing with other people in real life, practicing an instrument, or even reading a decent book.

    3. My primary disagreement with the NeoPets site is the embedded advertising. Children are highly impressionable. To this day, I am terrified of the dark, thanks to watching the movie “Gremlins” as a child. Hence, advertising targeting children just seems wrong to me. This feeling is shared by others; the government has in the past struck down advertising campaigns that targeted adolescents, the Joe Camel cigarette mascot coming immediately to mind. Other companies might not target advertising directly at children, but their strategy does involve targeting children through other means. McDonald’s Happy Meals are a successful product that targets children. The colorful packaging, the games on the box/bag and the toy all are highly attractive to children. The children learn to associate McDonald’s with a positive feeling/experience. This increases their desire to frequent McDonald’s later in life, when they are more capable of spending money there. In the end, it boils down to the belief that adults trying to manipulate children for a company’s financial gain is thoroughly objectionable.

  2. I was not allowed to play video games growing up. The only one i played when visiting relative was the "best" one ever which is super mario bros. O think games help children woth dexterity and problem solving skills. The neopets game is very different than the linear games I prefer. I think the benefits of teaching through game play outweigh the costs,such as time apent away from school work and family. I don't like games that require outside money to get ahead. I think the neopoints is a better idea.Overall, it was an interesting subject that i did not know about previously.