"Tooning" Back In: The Toontown Renaissance and Young Adults

If you’re in your early 20s, you’ve probably heard of Disney’s Toontown Online. Toontown was a multiplayer online game developed by Disney in 2003. You played with other users as a Toon and attempted to battle the Cogs, robots who love business and hate fun.

 

My sister and I started playing Toontown in 2004, just a year after the game was created. We loved everything about it: creating our Toons (I was purple dog named Bonnie Gigglechomp, and you don't need to tell me how awesome that is. I already know), implementing strategy to win battles against the Cogs, and connecting with kids from all over the world without leaving our computer room (remember when those were a thing?).

 

Eventually our mother made us delete the game from the computer, claiming that it was slowing down our computer with state-of-the-art Windows 2000. Looking back, I realize this probably had a lot more to do with our addiction to the game and tendency to fight over whose turn it was to play. The price also could have contributed: The limited version of the game was free, but to access all the fun stuff users (rather, users’ parents) had to pay around $10 a month. Whatever the reason, we were devastated.

 

We returned to the game at various points when we were able to use the computer with less supervision, opting for the less-fun free version. After we hit middle school, we kept this on the down-low, fearing ridicule from playing a game designed for children.

 

Toondown: The death and rebirth

 

The summer before I went to college, I was feeling super nostalgic. After finally beating Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped, I was looking for a new way to relive my childhood. My sister and I created new Toontown accounts. Now that I was sort of a grown-up, I was even able to pay for the full version of the game! I played from May to August, racking up more laff points and gags than I ever had before.

 

Then, at the end of August, Disney did what my mother had done so many years ago: It told us we could no longer play. After ten years, Disney decided to shut down Toontown--for everyone and for good. They gave us less than a month, saying that they were going to focus on  “other online and mobile play experiences” (read: other games that they could make more money off of, like Club Penguin). The site went down on September 19, 2013.

I was upset, as were thousands of people still dedicated to this game. I couldn’t believe that they were doing this after I’d come so far and just gotten back into the game. More than that, I was so sad to be losing this huge part of my childhood.

 

From out of the darkness of the idea of a Toontown-less world, Toontown Rewritten (TTR) was born. A group of what can only be described as computer-genius heroes got to work on locating all the files for Toontown and rebuilding the site from scratch, so all the dedicated fans like a young boy named Charlie wouldn’t lose their beloved game.

 

 

The TTR staff created the beta site, which is now live and fully-functioning. It’s almost an exact replica of Toontown Original (TTO). The only difference is the lack of Disney characters like Mickey and Donald roaming around, for obvious copyright reasons. The copyright implications also mean that TTR cannot charge users to play the full version of the game, so everyone can enjoy the game as it was meant to be played.

 

Tooniversity Students

My sister and I found out about TTR and made accounts last summer. We thought that, as a 20 and 22-year-old, we would be the oldest people playing. However, through making friends on TTR and browsing forums, we learned that we were well within the norm.

Many college students from all over are playing TTR, especially over winter and summer breaks. Nearly every Toon I’ve talked to is at least 19.

I’ve managed to convince three other Berry students and two Berry grads to play the game. Every time we log on, we see other students discussing college life as they battle the Cogs, shop for gags and go fishing.  

 

After playing as a kid on and off for ten years, it’s odd to see this happening. When I played in 2004, the game was all children. “I have to log off for dinner” was way more prevalent than “I gotta go meet my study group in the library at 7 or I will def fail this test”.

 

It makes sense though. For me and many others, this game has always been a retreat into simpler times. It’s a fun (yet occasionally frustrating) way to pass the time in a colorful world with clear delineations of good and evil. The fact that the game is 100% free now doesn’t hurt, either.

 

The Toontown Renaissance is in full swing. If you want to join and help a bunch of 20-somethings procrastinate by battling the Cogs, visit toontownrewritten.com. That is, if you’re Toon enough.  

About The Author

Abigail (Abby) DeGennaro is a junior at Berry College. She is majoring in communication with a concentration in PR and a minor in English. Abby enjoys reading mystery novels, bicycling, and watching "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" for the hundredth time.