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A Neopian's Past-time Hobby: Collecting Avatars

by shadowcristal


CHAT BOARDS – If you’ve ever been to the chat boards, you’ve seen them. Perhaps you even spot the avatar before the name. These amazing little things have existed in Neopia for a pretty long time. They were the thing that spiced the board and made it so much better, not only to look at, but also a place to be in.

There is an age restriction of 13 to be in the chat boards, but some younger kids may have their parents sign a form and then enter the boards. If you are not allowed in the chat boards, feel free to leave or read this just for the fun of it.

Let’s start off with the definition. What is an avatar? (I’ll bet most of you are shaking your head and wondering if I’m as useless as I sound. Keep reading, please!) An avatar is a lovely little piece made of pixels that look pleasant to the eye. If that’s all you think of when you hear the word, you’ve only touched the surface.

Honestly, an avatar is so much more. It is a way of showing status. There are avatars classified as rare, and having one of them automatically gives you status. It’s like the same thing with month counts. Just because someone has a rare avatar, people may assume things about them. Now, back on topic. Some people love this status show. They’ve even taken it to the extent where people are creating ‘Show off your rarest’ boards. Well, a rare avatar commands a lot of respect.

Take me for an example. I went to one of those boards mentioned above, carrying a rare avatar. After I’ve posted my message and wandered round Neopia for a few minutes, I decided to check back. To my surprise, I saw a lot of people commenting on that av. (Short for avatar.) You wouldn’t believe what some people posted. That is just one example. If someone comes in with a MSPP avatar, that’s considered rare and it immediately gives off the air of respect. Enjoy the attention? Just grab a super-rare avatar and show off.

Of course, an avatar is not only a status symbol. It also represents who you are. Illusen’s fans may have the Illusen’s Glade avatar even though they could have rarer ones, because they’re such dedicated fans. A dark avatar represents evilness. (E.g. Caw, Dark Peophin, Emo Usuki and more.) It is also an easy way to recognize people when chatting. The majority of Neopians tend to look at the picture instead of the username, exceptions being made when the same avatar appear more than once. Toast is funky. Gray is sad. You get it. Make sure to choose your avatar carefully in order to display your personality.

Now that you know what avatars are, let’s move onto another area: collecting avatars. (Note that the word refers only to the secret avatars, not the ones every Neopian already have.) This is an incredibly fun hobby if it suits your taste. There will be one new avatar per week at least and there are lots of old ones. To get a secret avatar, you’ll have to do some task. Well, how do you know when you got a new one? There will be a message titled ‘Something has happened!’ and it will tell you what avatar you got. Do NOT mistake this for a random event, because the image of the avatar is much smaller.

There are easy and hard avatars to collect. Some are practically impossible while others can be gotten with just a click. The harder an avatar is to get, the more rare it is. Some avatars require pure cash. That’s easy, compared to what you’ve got to do for other complicated avatars. Then there are avatars that cannot be bought with NP. No, I don’t mean the easy clicking ones. I mean those that you have to work hard to get, such as Turtum, NT Star and various other ones. There’s even a highscore list for getting the most avatars, which gives an additional avatar.

Why do people collect these tiny bits of pixels? Why don’t they spend their time and try to gain some NP by playing games or restocking instead of staying in a chat board and chatting it all away? Well, it’s only natural, wanting to be the best. Whoever gets most avatars will receive fame and people will admire them. It’s just the simple psychology of being on top of this. There is a deep desire in all of us that just compels us to spend a lot in order to get a tiny .gif thing. You can’t even hold the avatar for real, yet there’s a feeling of success every time that special ‘Something has happened!’ message pops up.

The avatar obsession doesn’t end here. There is the practice of avatar lending out there. It’s simple, nice and easy and should ONLY be done over Trades. Someone has an item that can get you an avatar. You pay a collateral in order to borrow that item (the collateral is equal to the value of the item) and use it to get the avatar. Then you put it back in trades and you get your collateral back. Sometimes the lender might require a fee for using the item. It sounds like a nice and safe method, doesn’t it? But it isn’t. Either the one borrowing or the one lending out may not accept offers. Then you might be standing there with a useless item for getting an avatar and a long nose. It is risky, but the rewards are appealing on both sides. The lender can make some profit by tips (not necessarily a mandatory fee for using the item) and the borrower gets an avatar and then his/her stuff back. However, this only works for multiple-use items. One-use items such as concert tickets don’t work.

Avatar guilds have been popping up ever since these little pictures were released. Sometimes you can borrow an item in the guild for a lower fee or for free, depending on several factors. It’s just like with any other themed guilds. The people probably all talk about avatars, and the front page is filled with them. The guild may even provide solutions to secret avatars, so that might ruin some of the fun. If you wish, join the growing number of budding avatar collectors.

Of course there’s more! This little realm of avatars in Neopia is growing. People are choosing to specialize on them, just as some are great Battledomers while others write to the NT. It has come a long way since the first one of those .gif images were on the news page. Do you choose to go with the flow? Or has it already lost its appeal? No matter what, there is bound to be something interesting within the sub-world of avatars. It’s all up to you to choose how far you want to go and how much you want to spend. After all, it’s one of the most popular hobbies of Neopians nowadays and part of the daily life.

Have an ava-terrific day!

Author’s Note: The reader has read this on his or her own risk. Most of the things in this article are true; the author has been an avid avatar fan and lending out stuff for collateral. (Ah, the good times…) Any questions, comments or concerns? The reader is welcome to Neomail the author.

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