How Alienaa improved my life
This article is is inspired by Madison Kanna article "Why I’m Glad I Grew Up Playing Neopets".
When I read her blog post, I could relate because, as a kid, I played a game very similar to Gigpets. The game I played was called Alien AA, or A3, which stood for Alien Adoption Agency.
When I said "played," I should have said "lived" because I spent most of my time playing this game. For example, One day, my brother, upset I was hogging the only computer in the house, could determine I was playing A3 for 13 hours straight. But, as Maddison described in her article, this was not all bad for me.
Instead, playing A3 was arguably one of the most positively impactful decisions I made as a kid. The reason A3 was so beneficial for me as a kid is that it helped prepare me for life as an adult. For example, I learned about settings goals and being committed to those goals by playing A3. Also, A3 introduced me to computers, which is how I make a living today.
The game's goal was to take care of an Alien you adopt and prepare them for battling other aliens in the game. A3 was a simple game, similar to Gigapets, Neopets, or more closely to Pokemon, except you are only allowed one Pokemon.
In A3, you battled other aliens by searching for aliens to fight in a battle area of the game. This search was similar to performing a profile search on any social media site today, except the only aliens that would appear were the ones available for battle.
If you click the fight button on an alien's profile, you will be redirected to a results page showing a result log of the fight. If you lost, your alien would become inactive for battle until you revived them. If you won, you would have decreased health, and your weapon and armor would often get damaged.
Everything else in the game extended from the goal of winning battles. You need to obtain a few items to continue battling, like potions for healing and reviving your alien after a battle. Also, you would need a blacksmith to fix broken weapons and more.
Another exciting aspect of A3 is you could go to a university to get a skill to unlock other areas of the games. The purpose of the university was to open spaces of the game for a career. So your alien could do things like alchemy to make potions, study blacksmith to repair armor, and even fish, which was what my alien did best.
An area of the game called the "black market" in A3 resembled a stock market where gamers could sell items needed for aliens. You can buy items by searching for them and listing them by price, or you could list items for sale on the black market at whatever quantity and price you prefer. These transactions worked like battling, where you would search and click "buy" to complete a transaction. I loved this because I would randomly see an increase in my alien's bank account while playing.
Most of my time playing A3 was used interacting with my Guild in various ways. A guild was like a battle group on A3. Each Guild had a profile page and section of the site where you could rent weapons or armor that was too expensive for you to buy or trade items with other guild members. You could even borrow money if I remember correctly.
The thing I did most was to post on the guild message boards. Of course, there were games on there we could play. Still, the primary purpose of these message boards was to share strategies, news, and other valuable information to improve your alien's abilities.
Together all these activities would prepare me for adulthood.
The first thing I can remember being genuinely committed to was A3. A day missed playing A3 was a lost opportunity for growth for my alien. Fortunately, and sometimes, unfortunately, that attitude has stuck with me.
A3 also taught me patience and perseverance. In this world, things do not happen in a day. You had to complete tasks over several days to accomplish anything meaningful in A3, which taught me to plan. Most importantly, I gained experience in working long-term toward my goals which I put into practice when studying something new like a programming language.
Determined to maximize my effectiveness at playing A3, I learned the fundamentals of computer performance. I did as much research as possible to find out what made my computer run slower or faster and what I could do to improve the performance of my machine.
For example, I learned about machine memory and how that affected performance. Next, I learned ways to replace the hardware on a desktop to improve performance. And last, I learned about internet connection speeds and how that affected page load times in my browser.
Unfortunately, because it was the late 90s, broadband was only available in some areas I had little control over my internet speed. Nonetheless, I understood why my internet connection was underperforming.
Also, the first online profile I maintained was through A3. In doing so, I learned a bit about computers. For example, I learned about image file types, conversion, and compression, trying to customize my Aliens profile image or mug shot we called it.
In learning about digital images, I discovered a library of websites available on the internet. But, more importantly, I learned how to find tools on the internet. For example, I discovered other websites where I can customize profile images. Also found valuable sites to make attractive text graphics.
Learning to use the internet for research may have been the most impactful outcome of playing A3. As a result, a few years later, this skill would lead to my understanding of how to customize profile pages on MySpace when that became popular. In turn, working on my friends' and my own MySpace profiles would ultimately lead to my career as a web developer.
In reading Maddison's blog post, I reflected on the timeline of events and realized how impactful A3 was on my life. Today, I am unsure if that ever clicked for me until that moment. Before reading her article, I would mention to others that my interest in websites started with MySpace. Still, more importantly, my genesis in computer science started with A3. For that reason, Alien Adoption Agency was the best game I have ever played.