Why This Mattered

“Club Penguin armies”, some retirees never fail to say, “is a waste of time”. Some more enamoured with the supposed wisdom of the elders believe them. Many others still invested in the game, of course, do not. How could anyone say that all hours they spend every day were meaningless? All the time spent chatting on Xat, recruiting in unscheduled events, attending battles and reading CPAC posts: is it all for naught? 

It is not difficult to see why Club Penguin armies could be seen as little more than a huge time-waster. You could become a leader of a major army. You could lead an army to 1st place on the top ten. You could even be awarded that most prestigious of titles: CP army legend. Yet no one would ever dare write “ACP Leader” or “CPAC CEO” on their resumés or Linkedin profiles in the future. The concrete value that is gained seems relatively disproportionate to the amount of the time and energy that people have invested over the years in this game- and I say game, because, in the end, despite the seriousness with which many of us have taken CP armies, it is nothing more than a game. Perhaps it indeed is little more than a glorified distraction.

Or is it? Notice the use of the word ‘concrete’. Now I invite your attention to its antonym: ‘abstract’, ‘intangible’. No, you will not be writing about your 6-month leadership of a top 5 army. But, as with many things in life, the destination is not what is most important: it’s the journey that matters. It may not be something you can discuss on a university application, but let’s take a look at the intangible value of Club Penguin armies.

CP armies have, in my mind, been most notable for being a microcosm of the larger world. Just as the real world has nations, we have armies; there exists governments, we have leaders; there is a press, we have news sites. If nothing else, CP armies is like a small-scale simulation of real politics. And this, I think, gives CP armies so much of its intangible value. We often laugh at how seriously we used to take armies- I am just as guilty of this as any other other retiree- but honestly, the game would not be the same at all unless it was treated with the seriousness we gave it. Power struggles, multilateral negotiations, running large organisations, strategic planning: these are things few teenagers would have a chance to experience if not for armies. President Trump may have written The Art of the Deal; I am certain, however, many has learned the art of dealmaking and leadership not from a book but through practical experience that they have acquired in armies. This game, put simply, has been a practical course in political science that could not have been substituted.

Those in the media were, many for the first time, exposed to a large audience willing to consume their writing, and provided with seniors willing to provide consistent feedback. As a writer myself and a benefactor of this exposure, there is no telling how much my writing skills have improved as a direct result of being in armies. Yes, writing a school essay makes your writing better, but it does not matter to many other people whether or not your teacher likes what you wrote. Yet when you write for CPAC or SMAC, there are real ramifications to what you wrote. In addition, things like philosophy and opinion columns force many writers to think deeply about complicated issues and values, a valuable skill applicable to later life. Some even learned the ins-and-outs of graphic and website design because of their time in armies.

Many make it eventually to the owner ranks, but those who do not benefit equally from their experience in armies. Some people who begin shy eventually learn to reach out and to socialise. And this, after all, is probably the single most important aspect of Club Penguin armies: the friends that we meet. It may be an online game, but the friendships we forge are real, and they were forged over states, countries and continents. I can say, with no doubt in my mind, that I have met some of the smartest, friendliest and funniest people I know through Club Penguin armies. I do not doubt that many can say the same. Too many nights were spent on Xat, perhaps, but even if you could do this again, would you have it any other way?

We often talk about ‘future generations’, of new recruits and fresh members. With this game coming to an end, there will no longer be such a thing. It is unfortunate that our shared experiences will not be known to more people, that they will not get to benefit from our community. As such, it’s even more important to recognise the value of what we’ve gained from CP armies. This game, to put it simply, has not been a waste of time. There was a reason it mattered, a reason for why we all invested so much time into it. Sure, it was for fun, but the memories and experience gained: this is not something you could have found anywhere else. Intangible and abstract the benefits may be, but they certainly do exist.

In short, this game mattered. This community mattered. Club Penguin armies mattered. Because it made us learn. It made us laugh. It made us have fun. It made us better people. 

I’ve written hundreds of posts for armies in my years here, whether it be SMAC, CPAC or ACP. But in this final post, I ask of three things:

  1. Keep in touch. Don’t forget the friends you made and the memories you shared together. We may all only know each other online, but this doesn’t diminish the value of the friendships in any way. Club Penguin may be dead, but come on: we have so many ways to keep talking. Kik, anyone?
  2. Use what you learned. This community has some seriously bright and talented people who would succeed in any field you choose to enter. By being in this community, you have an advantage over many people- practical experience in so many things that others have only read about. You may no longer get to teach other people your favourite recruiting phrases, but you sure can use the leadership and communication skills you learned. Who knows, perhaps one day we’ll see people from this community as future head of states, top CEOs, and award-winning journalists!
  3. Keep doing great things. Sometimes, on my more contemplative days when I do feel like armies is a little bit too much of a time-waster, I wonder what we could have accomplished together if we put the same level of dedication and energy into something perhaps a little bit more ‘significant’ in its real-world application. What if, say, this energy was put into a service project or a real news site? I still think about this, and I have to say: it’s still possible. Keep thinking big and doing great things in the real world, as you’ve done in this community.

We may not have desired an end for this community. But now that it is over, now that the time has come for all of us to move on, let us never forget this very special place, the things we learned and the friends we gained. And, of course:

Don’t cry because it’s over – smile because it happened. 

Good luck to everyone, and see you again!


22 Responses

  1. Very good post, agree with all your points.


  2. I’m very sad that by leaving armies I will lose contact of great friends such as yourself.


  3. Bless you.


  4. Amen.


  5. Brilliant writing as always, Ken.

    This post illustrates exactly why I cringe at the quote that’s often used at the end of disputes: “it’s just a game bruh, chill.”

    Yes. It’s a game. A game that we’ve invested hours; and for some, even years. And to those who’ve brushed off an argument with that quote before, here’s a message to you.

    You’re a hypocrite. And if you didn’t take armies seriously, then that was indeed as you say, a complete waste of time.


  6. Very good post with some great points! CPA is so incredibly unique that atleast 100 websites were set up and run by kids and teens just for the sake of fun.


  7. Nice post man 😦


  8. Salute, mate.


  9. Nice post 🙂


  10. deeez nutz


  11. Glory to the light.


  12. This all had purpose, it all mattered, and in one way or another everyone I like to believe left a little bit better. I like this, the way this is all ending. True its sad but at least we got to send off this great community in such a meaningful and deserving way.

    Great post!


  13. We spend a lot of time looking for purpose in the things we do.

    But I wonder whether purposeless truly denigrates the experience. For I still had that experience, I still felt the thrill of the chase, I still met the people and shared their passions, I still sat and threw those snowballs and made those lines and felt like I was battling for something real! Who cares for purpose when it was this damn good.


  14. Splasher! It’s so nice to see you! I’m so grateful for having you as my CEO back in SMAC way back when. Amazing read as always.


  15. Interestingly, it seems that many leading members of the community are interested in pursuing careers in politics and government. I don’t think this is a coincidence, and our community being similar to the political construct in our society makes me think that this community and politics attract similar people, but being part of this community also incites interest in such topics. I was always very thoughtful in precisely how I distributed power among members in my armies, and how I could manipulate the will of the people in an attempt to benefit the army, and next year I will likely be majoring in political science. Great post, by the way. If you want to talk more about this contact me on XAT, I’ll be on the ACP chat.


  16. i love u ken


  17. Thank you for all the wonderful memories.


  18. there is a future generation led by Lord Pain


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