Keeping up with Kincaid: Why do I still play Club Penguin?

Campus+editor%2C+Laken+Kincaid%2C+reminisces+on+the+use+of+loving+words+in+day+to+day+language.+

Laken Kincaid

Campus editor, Laken Kincaid, reminisces on the use of loving words in day to day language.

Laken Kincaid, Campus Editor

Time has always been a fickle thought for me. Not only have I never been able to wrap my mind around its infinite nature (one of my fatal flaws is becoming angry when I do not understand something), but I hate the impact it has on people. I despise that it changes how we think and causes us to become less naive; it grabs our child-like nature and crumples it into a ball resembling the workforce and taxes. We lose our positivity in exchange for realism, a trade off for a world that runs on money and destroys the wonder we had as toddlers. 

I have always had this thought; it did not recently develop with collegiate angst. When I turned ten, I cried to my mother telling her I never wanted to grow up. I did not want to become an adult or have to live on my own without the nurturing of my parents. I enjoyed the life of coloring sheets and “math-minutes.” From a young age, I adopted the habit of telling people I was not ”officially” a year older until the clock strikes 8:44 pm on March 19th. The idea of getting older is particularly difficult this year as I kiss my teenage life goodbye. I have used the free trial of my life and now it is time to pay the subscription. It makes me realize how soon that my university life will be nothing more than a memory ingrained in my mind.

I was thinking of this when, last week, I was taking a walk with my friends around University Heights and one of them posed a thought: “we may be little more than strangers in five years.” To say that this statement caused me grief would be an understatement. After all, I was already lamenting the upcoming spring break and imminent summer vacation that would separate me from those I care about the most. My friend’s comments left me jarred. 

By the time you finish reading this statement, its freshness is already in the past like all of your memories. Even now, as you recognize the present, it is but a past thought that you ceased to enjoy in the moment. There may very well be a time when my friends and I are not in contact, a time relatively soon, and I am easily taking advantage of the now while we are still together. I do not realize how lucky I am to live in the present when we are driving through neighborhoods pointing at beautiful architecture or when we watch romantic comedies at one in the morning attempting to throw cheese balls in each other’s mouths. That time is gone and the rest of my time with them could dissipate soon as well. 

With this realization, I have started to recognize moments in the present by taking pictures to preserve them. When I do something simple like go on a hike or jaunt around campus, I tell the people I am with that “this minute will be one that we look back on for the rest of our lives.” I do my very best to create a mental time capsule that I can look back on with fond memories. 

The idea of eras stuck in time intrigues me for this reason. I frequently suffer from cravings of nostalgia; a longing to revisit my past and live a day knowing how much I took it for granted. I watch my childhood favorite movies over and over again and listen to the same television show episodes to fall asleep. There is comfort in relishing in the best times of your past. 

However, I have found one of my childhood memories safe from the onslaught of forgetfulness:  playing online multiplayer games on my mother’s ancient desktop computer. From ToonTown to Webkinz, I enjoyed all of the virtual worlds I frequented. I remember getting Minecraft over Thanksgiving break in 2012 and playing it for hours after its initial download. My poor family probably spent hundreds of dollars on online memberships for the exclusive clothes and pets I could buy. To say the least, I spent many of the hours of my youth inside of a screen and loving every second. However, no video game quite stood out to me, and no platform is so well preserved, like Club Penguin. 

One of my first friends, Matt, introduced me to Club Penguin at a young age. I typed the name “Ukshna622” with my five year old vigor into the assigned slot and still use the random assortment of consonants for my usernames across multiple platforms. Within a few weeks, I became addicted and played for countless hours a day. For multiple Christmases and birthdays, I asked my family for Club Penguin merchandise and memberships (Kroger probably appreciated my mother’s annual fifty dollar purchases of a plastic card with a code to my happiness for the coming year). 

I customized my avatar and mastered the minigames like ice fishing and operating the Pizzatron 3000. I learned the hidden lore of the EPF (Elite Penguin Force for you unprofessionals out there) and the mischievous villain Herbert with his pet crab Klutzy. My favorite parties, or island wide events, that the game hosted were easily the Halloween and Medieval bouts. It became a core memory that shaped the same personality I present today. 

I grew up on the game and have yet to let it go. Although the original website was totaled years ago, I play emulators under different URLs with the same exact art style and premise. These websites take me back to my younger years, they are the perfect time capsules I look for in the pictures I take and the words I use that are attempts to safeguard the present. When I take a voyage back to my past through things like Club Penguin, I feel that sense of happiness I did as a naive child without a worry about my COM338 grade or financial aid. I was just Laken, or rather, Ukshna622. 

Personally, I hope to have this same joy when I gaze through the pictures I have taken and look back on my life in college. Everyone says that college will be the best four years of your life and that statement may very well be true. However, I do not know if I will ever be able to revisit it like I can with Club Penguin. Perhaps it is a sign to recognize the moments as they come and fret not about the future, only smiling back at the memories when they are gone. It is probably impossible for me to quench my worries about forgetting my friends or college experience in general, but I think it can be aided with a bit more present enjoyment.