My name is Gordon Davidescu, and I am a frequent user of the Web site known as Neopets. I am twenty-seven years old, and I live on the Upper West Side of Manhattan – though I’m going to be moving to the West Side of Seattle at the end of next month. (A crowd of similarly aged people reacts by saying, together, “Hello, Gordon!”)

For Kids Only(?)
Yes, it’s true; I frequently visit a Web site which is, on the surface, a virtual pet site. That’s the first thing about it that more or less hooked me in. I was living in an apartment building at the time (June of 2002) which didn’t seem to allow pets, but more to the point, I was under the impression that I was allergic to most pets that fall under what I consider to be the “fun” category. I consider cats and dogs to be in this category, whereas pets such as fish are not so much fun, insomuch as one cannot do all too much with a fish other than to feed one, or stare at one. This could also be why I don’t particularly like the idea of spending a lot of money on a painting that will just hang on the wall and slowly deteriorate.

A virtual pet, on the other hand, would be an entirely different matter. There was no chance that there would be a problem with allergies, and the apartment couldn’t possibly have a problem with my having one, since it was going to be dwelling online. Since a Sony Aibo was cost prohibitive, why not have a different type of electronic friend? I ventured onto the site and created my first Neopet, a type that looks suspiciously like a kangaroo in many ways, which is probably why I chose him at the time.

It was right around the time that I was in a relationship with someone from kangaroo country itself, a relationship that evidentally played a heavy influence on my choice of virtual pet. It didn’t play much of an influence on the pet’s name, however – KawaiiDesu – which, if I’m not mistaken, is Japanese for “It’s Cute.” I could be wrong. After all, it’s been over two years since I got a set of Japanese cds and books for the purpose of learning and I still have not cracked open Lesson One. I am encouraged by the fact that I have already made a friend in Seattle who has assured me that he would have no problem exchanging lessons in Japanese for lessons about the Jewish religion. I will skip the non-obligatory hand washing another overused analogy.

Seriously – For Kids Only?
One of the first things I came to realize as I used the site was that it was most certainly not just a children’s site. Granted, it is a site that is wonderful for children, but it is something that can be equally well enjoyed by adults. There are groups of adults that bunch together in 18+ communities through the site, discussing things like problems they are having with their own children, work related issues, and other things that the pre-teen set generally doesn’t have to worry about. Moreover, it’s the sort of thing that a person doesn’t have to be young to enjoy.

The site is loaded with enjoyable games to play including a good handful of more mature games that one might find in Atlantic City, Las Vegas, or Toppenish, Washignton. If you can’t tell by looking in your local video game store, the bulk of video game players in this country are over twenty. So it is with Neopets – an increasing number of players of the games and users of the site in general are older.

Perhaps Neopets is for you, too?
Perhaps this article has done nothing but convinced you that the world is a scary place, for there are seemingly grown men out there who eagerly go to a virtual pet Web site. On the other hand, perhaps you are intrigued – what is this all about? Why would anyone with otherwise perfectly good mental capabilities spend their free time using a virtual pet site? Does it cost anything other than time? The last question, of course, is the easiest one to answer – it doesn’t cost anything.

There is, of course, a caveat to this statement – if you, like me, are someone who likes to collect adorable plush animals, then it more than likely will cost you – assuming that you are even able to find these plush animals to begin with. Living in the beautiful city of Manhattan, one of the best places one could live, you would expect that there would be an easy location for a person to be able to find Neopets related plush, yes? I have found absolutely no plush animals since the summer of 2002. Once I locate some, of course, I will more than likely get some more. On the other hand, there’s always the easy solution – E-bay….

That being said, if you don’t feel the need to spend money on merchandise of any sort and you don’t want to go for the collectible card games which keeps on getting expansion sets, you don’t have to spend any money whatsoever to enjoy this virtual pet site. Sadly (perhaps not that sadly) I fell victim to the strong desire to want to spend money on the collectible card game (which was convenient because it allowed me to also indulge in my desire to get back into the habit of collecting Garbage Pail Kids cards, something I haven’t done since the early ’80s…) – however, you don’t have to. It is a fun game, however…

How could it be that a seemingly normal twenty-seven year old would be playing what appears to be a children’s game? Simply put, calling it just a children’s game would be erroneous. For the record, just about anyone above the age of rational understanding would be able to find something to enjoy on this site. The only thing remotely childish would be to just assume that you couldn’t possibly like it.