Thousands of students across the globe have come waddling back to the chilly world of Club Penguin — Disney's massively multiplayer online game that first launched in 2005 — in a time of coronavirus social distancing and self-quarantines.
Club Penguin: Rewritten
and Club Penguin Online, private gaming servers inspired by the Disney chat game, have seen an influx of new high school and college-aged users returning to the virtual, icy tundra nearly a decade after playing the original (and three years after the original game was discontinued). With Club Penguin, these students, who have witnessed the coronavirus disrupt both their academic and social lives, can grab a slice of pizza with friends, hit the town and keep connected without staying 6 feet apart.
Some users spend their time playing the original kid-focused mini games, but others have used the platform to make up for the lack of real-life social interaction. Upon logging into Club Penguin, one can see vibrantly colored penguins, some donning feather boas and wigs, endorsing political figures like Bernie Sanders and shouting their college names — including UCLA, UCSD, Stanford University and Belmont University — to meet up with fellow classmates.
Penguins have also advertised group therapy sessions, where friends and other users visit their luxuriously decorated igloos for heart-to-heart conversations. In one session, players discussed topics ranging from breakups, bullying and weight insecurities while their avatars sat in a circle of beanbags as mellow jazz music played on a loop.