Neopets and Non-Fungible Tokens

As a child of the 2000s, I remember begging my parents to let us get a pet. A puppy, a kitty, a fish, maybe even a rock, it didn’t matter what it was as long as it was something I could play with and keep as a companion (I was an only child). It was Christmas of 2004 when I opened up a gift under the tree at my grandparents house, we had come down for a visit as we weren’t living in Cape Breton at the time. It was a purple Tamagotchi Connection v2. I’m sure it was something I had begged for, as the popularity of “digital” pets was growing in a post-Y2K world.

Tamagotchi Connection V1 Plus Japanese - Blue Yin Yang - Tested, Working! |  eBay
Although not mine, this is the same model I had.

Needless to say, I loved my little Tamagotchi. At Debert Elementary, I remember they got banned from school due to too many kids whipping out their virtual pets to feed them or clean their messes (the Tamagotchi has a convenient “mute” feature for a reason…). I remember one day I had asked my mom to look after my Tamagotchi when I went to school. I remember waiting alllllllll day to play with my Tamagotchi again, and when I got off the bus she handed it to me, a little egg with angel wings and a halo floating around on the screen. I was furious! My Tamagotchi had died! How could she! We eventually found out that the Tamagotchi was also equipped with a “pause” function, which could prove helpful for parents who didn’t have time throughout the day to look after the virtual pet.

That’s the thing. Real pets don’t have mute or pause buttons. They are living, breathing creatures that need constant food, water, and attention in order to live alongside us. But for this post, I want to talk a little bit more in-depth about virtual pets in online spaces, more specifically, how Neopets created an online space that would change the realm of art and ownership forever.

First of all, what are Neopets? Well, according to Wikipedia, Neopets (launched in 1999 by Adam Powell and Donna Williams in 1999) is an online virtual pet website. Users can sign up and “own” Neopets while buying them virtual items (such as food, clothes, medicine, and even their own pets) using either Neopoints (free points that can be earned by playing daily games) or Neocash (purchased with real world cash or won by very small chance). Now, it might not sound like much, but Neopets has been extremely popular for over two decades due to 1.) its target audience and 2.) the idea of “owning” a virtual pet. In the early 2000’s, Neopets was advertised to children of the higher-middle class, serving as a way to experience what it’s like to have a pet (perhaps in households where one cannot own a pet, such as a townhouse/apartment/condo) and to speak with others from all over the world on its online forum.
The original 47 Neopets. I was fond of Kacheek and Wocky.

You cannot discuss Neopets without having to mention inflation of the Neopian Market. I plan on writing about the inflation that happened on a very similar “online world” but that’s for another day. According to The Neopian Times, the current inflation rate is 2.31%. That however is a conversation for another day.

Now you might be wondering to yourself: “Danielle!?!? When are you going to discuss Neopets and my precious NFTs!”. Well, I’m going to do that right now. Over the past year or so, there’s been an increased presence of NFTs or “Non-fungible Tokens”. These are essentially .jpgs that you can claim you own… through a hyperlink (and the blockchain). Oh, did I forget to mention that these .jpgs are sometimes worth thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars? Yes, people are buying these images using their choice of cryptocurrency (ETH and BTC are the two main ones I see being accepted) and… I don’t know what they do with them. Maybe constantly refreshing the link to look at their purdy picktur over and over again? If someone can explain what people do with their NFTs in the comments below, it would be greatly appreciated.
Since the beginning of the website’s existence, Neopets had a strong sense of “personalization” when it came to one’s pets, be it through clothing, or the more coveted paintbrushes.

Foxglove ♡ Comms Open on Twitter: "Those looking for a #inktober  alternative I put together a list of #neopet paintbrushes! I was thinking u  pick a random number and then create an
Paintbrushes. This is what separated the boys from the men in Neopia.
bwunni: “Old Plushie Neopets ” | Neopets, Cute animal drawings, Fan art
A collection of Neopets using the “Plushie” Paintbrush.

In order to “paint” your Neopet with this cool design, you had to lay down a lot of Neopoints. I mean, A LOT. Now, I believe this was a time before Neocash was introduced, but you had to put down weeks, if not months of daily grinding in Neopets to even slightly afford a paintbrush. Perhaps I was just buying frivolous things with my Neopoints (like the Usuki collection I would show off), but I never got a paintbrush on any of my accounts, unfortunately.

I’m basically trying to say, although I put in all this time to get something that would give me online popularity points, I should’ve put my efforts elsewhere. My first Neopets account has been long abandoned, and I’m pretty sure with my current one my pets are “starving”.

Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) are a type of digital asset that represents ownership or proof of authenticity of a unique item or piece of content, such as a piece of artwork, music, video, or even tweets. NFTs are stored on a blockchain, a decentralized and secure digital ledger, which allows for the ownership and authenticity of the token to be verified and tracked.

NFTs are unique and cannot be replaced or exchanged for something else of equal value, unlike cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, which are fungible and interchangeable. This means that each NFT has its own distinct set of attributes and value, making them ideal for representing one-of-a-kind items.

NFTs are becoming increasingly popular in the art world, where they are being used to sell and trade digital art, as well as in gaming, where they can be used to represent unique in-game items or collectibles. They offer a new way for creators to monetize their content and for collectors to own unique and valuable digital assets.

NFTs being made fun of during the South Park Covid-19 special

But, are NFTs useless? The usefulness of Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) is subjective and depends on the specific use case and context. While some people may view NFTs as useless, others see them as valuable and with potential for growth in the future.

For some, NFTs offer a new way to represent ownership and authenticity of unique digital assets such as art, collectibles, and gaming items. They provide a secure and verifiable way to prove ownership and transfer ownership of digital assets in a decentralized manner, which can be valuable in certain contexts.

However, others view NFTs as a speculative investment and believe that their value is largely driven by market hype and speculation, and not by their underlying utility or usefulness. Some also criticize NFTs for their high energy consumption and negative impact on the environment, as they are often stored on energy-intensive blockchain platforms.

Neopets and Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) are similar in a few ways:

  1. Digital Assets: Both Neopets and NFTs are digital assets that can be owned, bought, and traded by users. In Neopets, users can own virtual pets and items, while NFTs can represent unique digital assets such as artwork, music, and collectibles.
  2. Community-Driven: Both Neopets and NFTs are built around communities of users who interact, trade, and value the assets. In Neopets, the community determines the value and rarity of virtual items, while in NFTs, the value is often driven by market demand and the uniqueness of the token.
  3. Speculative Value: The value of Neopets virtual items and NFTs can be influenced by speculation and market demand. In Neopets, the value of certain virtual items can rise due to their rarity or popularity, while in NFTs, the value is often driven by the uniqueness and rarity of the token, as well as market demand.
  4. Ownership Verification: Both Neopets and NFTs offer ways to verify and track ownership of the assets. In Neopets, ownership is verified through account-based systems, while in NFTs, ownership is recorded and verified on a blockchain.

Neopets and NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens) are both unique digital assets, but also they differ in several key ways:

  1. Ownership: In Neopets, users own virtual pets and can play games, buy virtual items and trade with other players, but the ownership of the virtual pets and items is not unique or verifiable. On the other hand, NFTs are unique and they are verified on a blockchain and their ownership is recorded and verifiable.
  2. Interchangeability: Neopets virtual items and pets are fungible, meaning they are interchangeable with each other. For example, if two players trade their virtual pets, they are both worth the same and have the same value. In contrast, NFTs are non-fungible, meaning each NFT is unique and cannot be replaced or exchanged for another one.
  3. Value: The value of Neopets virtual items and pets is determined by the market and the community, whereas the value of NFTs is determined by the uniqueness, rarity, and market demand for that specific NFT.
  4. Accessibility: Neopets can be accessed through a web browser and is free to play. NFTs are usually accessible through blockchain-based platforms and usually require a certain level of technical understanding to use and access.

Neopets and NFTs are both digital assets, but Neopets is more focused on providing a virtual world for players to interact with and enjoy, while NFTs are unique, verifiable digital assets that are used for a variety of purposes, including digital art and collectibles.

It could be argued that Neopets and similar virtual worlds contribute to the commodification of NFTs in a few ways. The virtual items and pets in Neopets are often treated as collectibles, with users seeking to trade and collect rare items. This mindset can carry over to NFTs, where unique and rare digital assets are also seen as valuable collectibles. In conclusion, Neopets and other virtual worlds can contribute to the commodification of NFTs by introducing users to the concept of digital assets and ownership, as well as by providing a foundation for understanding and appreciation of unique and rare digital assets. However, the extent to which Neopets specifically contributes to the commodification of NFTs is up for debate and may depend on individual perspectives.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *