Yes. You read that correctly.
It is the Year of our Lord 2020, and I, a 22-year-old almost college graduate about to enter into the workforce/adult world, log on to Webkinz every day.
It all began this past summer when I was a Residence Hall Leader at the Duke Tip Summer Studies program at Davidson College. Many of my college-aged counselors had gotten on a nostalgic Club Penguin kick, and while I must admit I was definitely a stan back in the day, there was only one online gaming platform I ever truly loved.
I was definitely ~that kid~ that would beg my mom to take me to any Hallmark, Michaels, or random southern boutique to hunt for small, cheaply made, stuffed animals with an online redemption code pierced onto their leg that cost upwards of $20 a piece.
By the time I “got too old” for the site, I’d amassed a collection of at least 15 “pets”, and if you were a kid in the early 2000s like I was, you’d know they were the ultimate symbol of clout.
Webkinz was certainly a lifestyle for me in 2006. I had daily rituals, favorite arcade games, a very active social life in the clubhouse, a degree in grooming from Kinzville Academy, and a growing fortune of Kinzcash that I believed would be reflective of my future adult income.
I have since learned in my old age that Kinzcash and U.S. Currency are NOT one and the same. The disappointment has been unreal.
When I decided that I wanted to start playing Webkinz again, I attempted to find my old account with negative success. Thus, a new account was created along with a new pet.
Fun Fact: Webkinz will now let users create an account/adopt a virtual pet for free! However, to access everything that used to be included in a standard membership, you must “Go Deluxe!” (a.k.a give us $5 a month or the only thing you’ll be able to do is spin the Wheel of Wow every once in a while)
Spoiler Alert: I “went” Deluxe.
Species: Floppy Eared Bunny
Adoption Date: July 15, 2019
Notable Trait: Gets hungry every. five. minutes. (honestly same)
“Petunia’s” favorite pastimes include:
playing Checkers, Webkinz Pool, and Wacky Bingoz every day like a senior citizen
tending to her vegetable garden as a means of not having to buy food in the W Shop
demanding attention and pouting until she takes a nap
Petunia is me.
Here’s what I’ve been up too for the last 7 months.
From the moment I started my new Webkinz account, I went to the arcade and made my first attempt at taking Pizza Palace from a small town shop to a household name.
I was doing great because I’m an adult and the game is made for literal children.
And then, Level 17.
It took me 6 months to beat it. Six. Months.
I cried when it happened.
With that chapter of my life closed, I moved my focus to an even harder, shinier goal.
The Legendary Crown of Wonder.
I’ve been a dedicated gem miner since July, and as of right now, I am a mere 3 gems away from the 30 required to achieve the ultimate status symbol. The Crown alluded me in my youth, and
I am determined to right the wrongs of my past.
Until today’s miraculous discovery of the illusive Earth Emerald, I had been 4 gems away for over a month. As you can imagine, morale is quite low and prayers would be appreciated.
All jokes aside, let me tell you exactly why I’m playing Webkinz in 2020.
As I’m sure you’ve probably experienced, nostalgia is running rampant in pop culture at the moment.
It seems like every day, a new reboot of a tv show or movie from the 90’s is being announced. A popular brand reverts back to its vintage packaging for a special edition release. Thousands of social media accounts are dedicated solely to “reminding you of a memory you didn’t know you had.”
Disney +’s whole market appeal banks off our collective desire to revisit a simpler time when it seemed like the world was a kinder, brighter place.
I’ve always been a very nostalgic person. I’m still very much a fan of a lot of the Blockbuster pop culture I grew up with, seeing as the early 2000s were just the 90’s leftover in some brightly colored tupperware.
As I’m about to really become an ~adult~ upon my college graduation, I can’t say that the future isn’t scary to me, so I’ve found myself craving the wholesome dopamine that comes with revisiting my childhood every chance I get.
For me, Webkinz always represented a world where any goal I set for myself was well within my sights, whether it was winning a game in the arcade, or finding a rare item in the Curio Shop, or collecting an entire decor collection to become a famed interior designer, anything was possible.
Getting older often means getting more cynical about what we’re capable of and how realistic we should make our dreams in life. I’ve certainly fallen prey to it at times, but playing Webkinz again has truly reinvigorated a sense of hope and determination that I desperately needed.
It may be silly, but it’s cheaper than therapy so I’ll take what I can get.
The future might be frightening, but, at least for now, me and Petunia are doing just fine.