What We Love About Neopets - The Item Economy
As a 23 year old woman, sometimes I ask myself why it is that despite having aged 12 or so years since I first started playing this game, I still am. What is it that keeps drawing me back, despite all the changes that have occurred in my "real" life?
The answer is more complex than it seems. Sure, Neopets is a great place to kill time before work; click some stuff, see how my pets are doing, invest a few Neopoints, maybe do some restocking, a round of Key Quest. But I could entertain myself anywhere. I can do anything with my time. So why do I keep choosing Neopets? I keep coming back to Neopets because the essential values of the game are the same as the values that are rooted in me, and in all Neopians. These values encompass imagination, personal achievement, fantasy, growth, and most importantly, the infinite creative potential which defines the world of Neopia. Neopets is not just a game, it's an alternate reality.
What are some of the greatest elements of the alternate reality that is Neopets?
Your Shop/Gallery/The Trading Post/The Auction House
Neopets has a seemingly endless quantity of items that we as users can buy, sell, trade, equip or wear. Much like the real world, the value of these items fluctuates based on inflation, demand, and availability. It is a great pleasure to me that should I begin to collect teapots in my "real" life, I could start doing the same thing on Neopets. Or I could collect something completely Neopian. Goal: One million snot pizzas. The point is that I yearn for items on Neopets the same way as I yearn for items in the real world. I may not have $100 000 to spend on a single teapot, but that meticulously painted Fancy Blue Teapot is so tempting...
A bargain at around 90k!
A hugely important aspect of this system of buying, selling, and trading is that we can do it with each other as users, and in doing so we create our own economy. We can choose at what cost to sell our items. Maybe no one is interested in buying that 99, 999 NP 1/3 of a carrot and pea omelette that's been sitting in your shop for the past few months, but you can choose to quick sell the Tai Kai codestone you won at Tombola for a bargain price - or add a few NP and wait a little to make an extra profit. Anything could happen. And that is the element of potential which has contributed to making Neopets the truly unique community that it is.
Any way, if I really have a desire to spend my "real" money, I can now do it on Neopets. And I have. The site has brought a new dimension to self-expression on the site by allowing us to dress and accessorize our pets using NP or real money. Not interested in collecting snot or teapots? Fine - you have four unique pets to accessorize. If you think the process is going to be cheap or easy, you can just give up the ghostkerchief on that one - or use it to wipe away those tears you've been crying for an eventide shoy boy complete with full aviator gear. It's a goal worth reaching. And hey, if you get bored, you can always sell off those wearables (Maybe even for a profit!), buy a new set, and repaint!
I represent the infinite potential of your imagination!
One of the earliest forms of pet customization was the use of paint brushes to change the colours of our Neopets. If you think about it, that's a whole range of creative options represented in just one type of item. Not only can we paint our pets any colour we want (from purple, to elderly, to... snot), we can morph them into another species or transmogrify them into a mutant version of themselves! Even if you decide to paint your pet one colour and stay the same species, it's worth it just to try and collect some of the infinite options. A gallery full of unique paint brushes and morphing potions is no small feat.
That being said, a huge collection isn't for everyone. Some of us set a goal to own a single item - and maybe we'll achieve it... maybe we won't. There are items on Neopoints which over the years have reached an almost mythical status.
Not just the best way to make NP at Meerca Chase...
In many ways, these items are the currency of the subcultures which we have developed within the site. BDers will of course have the greatest knowledge of weaponry and defence items, healing potions, and will purchase the greatest number of codestones, dubloons, bottled faeries, and other related items. Customizers might shock you with an NC mall album with hundreds of pages of purchases or a pet kitted out in clothes, accessories, and a paint job worth millions of NP - or a beautiful custom designed on a budget by a creative accessorizer. Let's not forget the shopkeepers, restockers, Trading Post junkies and Auction House snipers, through the hands of which item after item passes through each day. It takes a thorough knowledge of the state of the Neopian economy to make a profit in these ventures, and if anyone knows the value of an item down to the last 100NP, it's these users.
I could talk about items forever - and if I chose to detail every one I would have an article a week for the Neopian Times for the rest of my life and beyond. I hope you understand why it is that that makes Neopets such a great place to be, and why I have chosen to start writing these articles for the NT. Next week I would like to take a look at the importance of the NT itself within our community, along with other creative outlets such as the Beauty Contest, Site Spotlight, Random Contest, and others!