Old Interview with Neopets Exec Vice President

A no muss, no fuss, pet is taking over the world. This phenomenon known as Neopets is a virtual world of mystery, exploration, and fun.
“The basic premise of the site is to create a virtual pet, take care of it, feed it, and cure its illnesses when it is sick,” said Executive Vice President Rik Kinney of NeoPets Inc. “More importantly, the creating of the pet is a passport into the worlds of Neopia.”

Neopia is a world of diversity, the center of Neopia is the central market place, where you can shop at a wide assortment of shops, drop by the Disney Theater for Disney games, or watch previews for new Disney releases. If you feel creative, visit the Art Center for story telling competitions, poetry contests, picture competitions, or learn to draw your Neopets.

There is a thriving economy in Neopia, thousands of shops created by NeoPet members offering a wide variety of strange, amazing, and often amusing, merchandise from stone soup, Kikoughela Syrup, Green Kougra Plushies, Fire Bombs to Blue Kau Morphing Potions.

“Some of the members are incredibly entrepreneurial, that is true of not only adults but kids alike,” said Kinney. “I know a seven- year-old who has an incredible shop. He is savvy about getting items for his shop and knows how to price them for the shop at optimum neopoint value.”

According to Kinney, two British college students created Neopets for their own amusement and for the amusement of their friends and other college students.

“It took off, they told their friends about it, and they told their friends about it,” said Kinney. “Pretty soon there was this underground community of Neopets members that was growing up around the website.”

The virtual world of NeoPets is located in Glendale Ca., and has quickly become a global media and entertainment company.

“We now have more the 47 million accounts and more than 70 million pets,” said Kinney. “The only websites ahead of us for page views are Portals and eBay.”

Kinney enjoys playing Neopets, as do men and women of all ages.

“People don’t realize there are a lot of adults on NeoPets,” said Kinney. “I had a speaking engagement in Singapore to 325 business people. I mentioned that people were known to be closet Neopets owners; I asked how many here played Neopets, 20 percent held up their hands.”

According to NeoPet member little_elf84, the web site is for fun but also teaches in a fun way many lessons including economics.

“Neopets is addicting and fun, it can also be an educational website for people of all ages,” said little_elf84. “You learn about the stock market and economics including the rules of supply and demand. In addition, there are hundreds of games, many games involving math and spelling, action and puzzle games, and games of chance like Dice-a-Roo. My favorite is Meerca Chase.”

Members, who enjoy stamp collecting, card collecting, or collections of almost anything, can also have their collections in the virtual world.

“I started out with a tiny cheap stamp, I got it from one of my friends,” said little_elf84. “Now I have several stamps in my stamp album, including some rare ones. I also collect cards and put them in my Neodeck. It is fun and a challenge to get as many unusual stamps and cards possible.”

Kinney states that Neopia is a vibrant and thriving economy and that the Neopia stock market is very much like the stock market in the real world.

“It responds to the laws of supply and demand to the various virtual companies we have created,” said Kinney. “It goes up and down in value according to news and information circulating on the site. It is a place to invest and learn the ropes of the stock market without loosing any real money. So, it is a life lesson type of environment.”

Now a little about the site itself, I will take you on a tour of NeoPets!

Welcome to the Neopian Pharmacy, here you can purchase red sparkling Step Out Shoes for only 285 Neopoints that will cure your pet’s bad case of NeoPhobia. When your pet comes up with an illness, take them to the hospital, It’s FREE in Neopia! Purchase the medicine you need at the Neopian Pharmacy.

Pay a visit to the Post Office where you can buy rare stamps for your stamp collection or sell in your own store.

Every child needs an education and so do our kid pets in Neopia. To educate your pet stop by the Magical Book Store, the more books your pet reads the more intelligent they become. You could even win the Neopian Book Award and receive a trophy for your trophy case to show off to the rest of the Neopian Community. Books from the “Faeries Deep Philosophy of Breathing = No Life” to Algebra.

You can also send your pet to school there is two schools in Neophia. You can send your pet to Krawk Island at the Cap’n Threelegs’ Swashbuckling Academy. Here courses are paid for in dubloons. You earn dubloons by playing games or unearth them in the buried treasure on Krawk Island. There is another school on Mystery Island. This school is paid for in Codestones. While on Mystery Island be sure to stop by the Tombola, here you can often win some rare and wonderful items as well as neopoints!

If you are brave at heart, explore the Haunted Woods, visit the Haunted House or play gobs of games or even paint your pet with a Halloween Paint Brush or test your knowledge at the Brain Tree.

One favorite place is the Magical Faerieland, a wonderful and fun place. There is a wheel of excitement where you can spin for some great prizes or get the nasty skull that inevitably gives out a nasty disease, thankfully, this rarely happens. Then there is the Healing Springs, perhaps the mermaid will restore your health points or give you a magic vial of potions. Back to Faerieland to play games or pick a petpet for your pet to keep it company!

Continuing the trip through Neopia is sure to stop by Happy Valley. Lots of great stuff year around, however beginning December 1, each day you can visit the Advent Calendar and receive nice goodies! In Happy Valley you can stop in for an invigorating snowball fight, play games, or move on to the Ice Caves where you can try to sneak in to the Snowager to steal from the huge pile of colorful Neggs (a very special item in Neopia) while he is asleep. Tons of great stuff to do in all the worlds, examine each one carefully for many secret areas!

Head to the top of the mountain you will arrive at Terror Mountain and head to the Igloo Garage Sale, where Mike and Carassa sell items for amazingly low prices, they open several times an hour as do all the shops. You find rare items to trade, save for your collection, and put in your neo home you can build, or sell in your own shop for an enormous profit.

Head back down to the Ice Caves and take a leap into the deep crevice and land in Tyrannia where you spin the Wheel of Mediocrity, buy rock furniture, and play games. Leaving Tyrannia go to the Plateau to attend a concert or grab a free piece of a giant omelet. According to legend, hundreds of years ago a giant dinosaur laid a massive egg? Check out the Lair of the Beast, (all you hear within is the slow dripping of water) hmm, wonder what is in there?

High above Neopia is a Virtupets Space Station, grab a bite to eat at the Grundos Cafe accept a challenge at the Space Battledome, or try a game of Code Breakers.

Last Stop before Neopia Central is the Lost Desert. The Lost Desert also offers a great variety of games, like pyramids, Sakhment Solitaire or take a chance at the Fruit Machine, or purchase rare and beautiful battle supplies for a battle in the Battledomes!

The center of Neopia is the Neopia Central Market place where a big assortment of shops is located, or stop by the Art Center if you feel creative or enjoy the Disney Theater with your pet.

The road to the Neopian Bazaar is in the Market place, which leads to many more places to explore, or perhaps make a wish in the Wishing Well.

NeoPets is moving through the World by Storm!

Neopets is popular in the US, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and Singapore and will soon be expanding to Japan and China.

“We will be translating the website into Japanese and then Chinese,” said Kinney. “We have always felt the Japanese people will have a keen interest in the kind of thing we have developed. Not just in the art work, but the strategy involved to be successful in Neopia.”

Neopets has launched in the non-virtual world, including merchandise and trading cards. “NeoPets is a hotbed of ‘random events,’ anything is possible,” said Kinney.

“There are big things to come throughout 2003, including more toy-type products. One of the strategic elements of their release is surprise, let me just say, you won’t be disappointed.”