Avatar Collecting: The Sport, Obsession, and Problem
We have all met them and have witnessed their need and drive to "collect them all". Avatar collecting, in most cases, is no longer done by finding them on your own and in due time. People are now frantically looking for cheat sheets, kind people willing to lend them money and items, and multiple accounts to get you there sooner. What used to be casual and fun in the beginning is now a sport where if you don't have over 200 you don't know anything about them. Harder avatars, i.e. Faerie Queen Doll, are just as easy as getting what are now called "clickables", i.e. pet pages. This devalues many of the avatars people spent a long time trying to get. In the beginning, people were just finding out that pet pages could give you "avvies", but you didn't know if days affected it or if it was that species. Now you click on a guide and they hand you everything, down to a neopet that has the ability to give you the avatar you are seeking.
Although collecting them is fun, many Neopians are living to get them and as soon as they can, playing games to get high scores for the avatars and money to buy the items, and not playing the games for the joy of shooting bubbles, saving petpets, or scoring points for your teams. It no longer is a game to have fun but a need to do better, almost like a chore or requirement to mean anything. And, if anyone knows Neopets, it's supposed to be about having fun and relaxing, not stressing about avatars. This games shouldn't be treated like a chore or a job, but something to do for the fun of it. Real life is stressful; the haven of Neopets shouldn't be.
I am not saying having a helping hand every once in a while is horrible, because that is what discussion boards are for; it is the begging for items and having others, that found out the hard long way, to find these avatars and to do everything for you except get the credit. This really makes avatar hunting not as fun or fulfilling as it once was, during the days when "clickables" were cool because they were hard to get without guides, which didn't really exist.
It's not even the guides per se that are the problem; those were established to lend a helping hand for some of the harder avatars. It is the extent some of those guides go. Rare petpages are okay; it's the easy ones that you come across when you are discovering some of the areas of Neopia. For example, the beach. Many people, when discovering Neopia, will travel places and click on areas, and some of those places will get them avatars. But when you see clickables to common areas that should be discovered on your own, like the beach, it just devalues the point of rewarding people for discovering Neopia. It then brings up the issue of why have avatars and perks if people use cheats to get them even the simple basic ones? What is the incentive for the creators of Neopets to create new ones if cheats to get them will come out in a week or two later?
Due to our need to have them all, we are ruining the perk of actually earning our avatars. Because we have made this a sport, and for some an obsession, I believe that we lost the point of gaining avatars. The reward of a cool new avatar for participating, exploring, and looking up has become clickable. The feeling of pride and happiness because you earned it isn't there anymore as more clickables come out. It makes them in a way feel cheap. Perks shouldn't make you feel cheap; they should make you happy over your accomplishments. Hours of hard game playing and dedicated Neo time shouldn't become one click of enjoyment.
But not only does it devalue the avatars, but also the players who worked hard to discover them. After hours upon hours of playing and getting new avatars, all their hard work and all their time can now be summed up in one click. Personally, this isn't fair to those people. We cheapen them as we make everything one click. The same people who are willing to help us if we ask and give us good solid advise. That's not right to do to them on a moral level, and if it had been any one of us, personally, we would be slightly offended and annoyed with all these one click avatars.
One click avatars aren't the only offense out there. Then, there is making a profit lending avatars: lending rare, hard to get items for a price. Many of these are so hard to get, it took the original players years to get. Now, all you have to do is go onto the boards and offer enough collateral and someone will eventually let you borrow it for a time to get the avatar. Years versus 20 minutes. Hmm, sounds like something cheapened. Now every time you go onto the boards and see a faerie queen doll avatar, you don't wonder how well they played and how long it took them to get, you wonder how much they paid to borrow the doll.
As a whole, we really need to chill and remember that they are supposed to be fun and a perk due to being active. Avatars do not determine whether or not a person is "good" at Neopets, it only shows that they have the time to dedicate to avatar hunting where others are plagued with the hits of reality and life that demand we remove ourselves from our soft computer chairs and attend to them. Avatars hunting needs to go back to the good old days, when it was fun and not a necessity to be seen as a decent Neopets player. The days when you had to play hard and earn your avatars, not click and receive or beg and borrow. But real dedication.