As one of the founding members of Gen Z, I was lucky enough to experience firsthand the descent into our current, modern-day internet frenzy. From binging the music videos of iconic Disney superstar Ashley Tisdale to learning how to poke my friends on Facebook, I was a seasoned internet user by the age of 10.
However, if I am being honest, most of my time on the Internet was dedicated to crushing every single gaming website possible. Now, as an aging college junior who quakes in front of anyone born after the year 2010, I present my ultimate picks for the BEST gaming websites from the 2000s:
We all knew Webkinz had to make it on this list.
Webkinz was the gateway into proving to our parents that we were responsible enough to someday own a pet. I remember buying my first Webkinz plushie at Mastermind Toys (the Canadian Toys “R” Us) then begging my mom weekly to take me back to buy more. The more plushies I collected, the more cramped my already small single bed became.
This was all perfectly fine with me, as my Webkinz were living large at their digital estate. I decked out these rooms with the coolest furniture and the trendiest decor. I had a notebook with all of their adoption codes and all 12 of their names listed. I made sure each of them made it to their checkups with Dr. Quack. Most importantly, I was a Polar Plunge arcade champion who won gold on Black Diamond each time.
Webkinz fostered my false sense of responsibility and made me believe that I too would have a mermaid-themed bathroom when I magically moved out on my own at 21. Alas, I feel that my dimly lit bathroom with its horribly weak shower head would likely disappoint my 8-year-old self.
Poptropica was the most extraordinary escape from reality possible.
From the very moment I designed my first avatar out of the vast array of goofy faces and clothing items, I was hooked. From chasing down and locking up super villains to winning petty reality TV shows, each island presented a series of thrills and challenges that I could never seem to beat.
I am embarrassed to admit but I never was fully able to complete an island. Every time I seemed close to finishing, I would get too excited about playing another and would quickly give up on the current island to begin my next adventure.
Poptropica was the foundation on which I built my belief that I am the main character, and I maintain this utterly ridiculous mindset today. Even nowadays, I sometimes take a (much-too-long) study break and pop open a new tab to retry one of my old failed islands. Sadly, my skills have neither regressed nor improved, and these islands remain incomplete.
3. Club Penguin
Probably the most memorable and saddest member on this list.
I remember tears being shed on March 30, 2017, when the Club Penguin website was finally shut down. Truthfully, I was never as much of a fan of Club Penguin as I was of the other two websites, but I know it had such a massive cult following.
This was most likely due to the adorable puffle pets that followed our cute little penguins around. My teal penguin and our feisty purple puffle were the most iconic duo yet. I just never got around to blinging my penguin out as I never understood much of Club Penguin, much less how to earn coins.
The only thing I really remember from this website was playing Card-Jitsu. I may not have been the best taekwondo athlete growing up, but I played a mean game of Card-Jitsu.
Although Club Penguin might not have been my favorite, it had so many interesting servers filled with users with the craziest names interacting with one another. I think the beauty of Club Penguin was that it allowed so many young, impressionable kids to talk to strangers on the internet for the first time. The realest father of social media. May Club Penguin forever rest in peace. #ripclubpenguin