#001 thisisnotporn

internet memory #001 - thisisnotporn

an oven in a field

Thisisnotporn is a browser puzzle game (possibly the first one?) that started around 2004. Unlike its successors (such as notpr0n, which ended up being more mainstream), TINP had -to me, at least- a unique charm to it. It doesn't have any indications that it is, in fact, a game: there are no instructions or level counters. Instead, it presents a rather sinister looking picture of an... oven? In a field? And there's some sort of creepy face shape in it, and some weird static sound. Recently it was "remastered" in order to work properly in modern browsers, but things have changed and stuff like popup windows and autoplaying audio no longer work unless explictly allowed by the user (and for good reason). In 2004 this was scary, but not obvious like most scary content I knew then, which was of the "sudden creepy image and loud sound" variety. This was unsettling in a way that drew me in. And it really drew in a lot of people, I remember at least two? forums where people worked so hard to crack the puzzles that they reached the point at which the developer had just stopped, because he imagined no one would actually get that far and the website would remain an enigma forever. Instead, people got there, the guy had to make a public announcement about this, I guess people were disappointed? I don't remember. I think I had stopped playing at that point. By "playing" I mean following the forums, because the puzzles were HARD. There were references to number stations and at least one novel (I ended up reading the novel just to understand the references). The photography was also great, and even though it went nowhere, it really seemed like there was a plot of some sort.

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#002 neopets

internet memory #002 - neopets

Sometime in late 1999 my dad bought a new computer with a modem, and we got a dial-up Internet connection. The computer was originally meant for him, to do some freelance work between jobs, but it wasn't very long before it was moved from the living room to my bedroom (also by then he had gotten a new job, so). I was ten years old and found Neopets while looking for another virtual pet game I'd seen someone play before (I still haven't found this other game). I made an account with what probably was my dad's email address? Or maybe it didn't even require an email account, things were *wild* like that back then. I don't remember much about this particular account, but I do remember playing on and off, and making a lot of new accounts over the years. I think starting a new account was more entertaining than actually maintaining one, for me. I kind of sucked at all the games and had terribly slow internet so I didn't have a chance at many things that worked on a first come, first served basis. Every once in a while I'd log into old accounts and find forgotten treasures (or just old crap).

The aesthetic back then was rather ugly, with lots of unrefined lines and these horrible gradient backgrounds (I'm more fond of them now for nostalgic reasons). Some time later, things improved and there were many beautiful and expensive items I would pine for. Around 2003 I became more active, there was a plot (a site-wide event consisting of a story arc and some browser-based puzzles, with juicy prizes) and I participated in a forum thread dedicated to solving the puzzles. I think I actually solved the very last puzzle, although I wasn't the first to do so in the entire game. Still, I got a prize which I sold later for like 3 million Neopoints, so I was on top of the world.

I continued playing on and off and I still do; I wish I could get access to my super old accounts but there have been account purges and password resets, also I've lost access to many an old email account. The website right now is this amazing chimera made of extremely old assets and forgotten pages, Flash pages that will lose browser support soon, several layers of different aesthetics from different years, and content as new as this week. Right now the developers are working on a full HTML5, mobile-friendly version (it's currently on beta). To me, the best pages to visit are the oldest, least maintained ones. I'm not sure there are any active players that aren't from back then, playing only out of nostalgia. Maybe younger kids playing out of protonostalgia?

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