The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
When I was a kid, one of my favourite online games was “Theme Hotel” (the name is deceptive- there’s no way to pick a theme). I would name the hotel after my dog and build up each floor, adding increasingly ridiculous amenities like bowling alleys and movie theatres to appease my picky hotel guests. For some reason, I loved this game. There was something charming about the little cartoon people, running around the screen and complaining about the lack of in-hotel fine dining establishments.
This year, I tried to go back and play “Theme Hotel” online. I wanted to relive a part of my childhood that seemed so important at the time. Instead, I got a notice: “Theme Hotel” would not run anymore because Adobe Flash Player no longer exists. There are no plans to convert it to a new and playable format, as they will be doing for more popular games like “Poptropica”. “Theme Hotel” has died and will not be resurrected.
Losing things from your childhood has always happened and will continue to happen. The arcade you went to as a kid shuts down, or you lose your favourite toy train sometime between elementary school and college. In my opinion, though, there’s something particularly jarring about losing something online. If my Wii game disc gets scratched, I understand why I can’t play it anymore. I know that the arcade can’t exist anymore because the building now houses a Chinese restaurant. With online games, it makes less sense. One day it works just as it always did, the next day it doesn’t. Physical things accumulate wear and tear before their inevitable breakdown, whereas online things can function perfectly one day and be gone the next. To add to the hurt, “Theme Hotel” could continue to exist if even one person within the company (or anyone with rights to the game) cared enough to convert it. The internet has a way of feeling incredibly permanent. As long as you have the URL, you can find the same webpage you looked at when you were a child. Even if you don’t have the URL, ask around on social media and someone will find it for you. But anything on the internet can disappear if its creators try hard enough to get rid of it. Sometimes all it takes is for a group of people (like the creators of Adobe Flash Player) to pull their product, and suddenly hundreds of games which seemed permanent are rendered utterly useless.
You can keep toys, stuffed animals and anything physical from your childhood for as long as you like. It doesn’t matter how popular it is or how many people own it. If you keep your possessions safe and accounted for (and barring something tragic like a fire), you can keep your childhood items for your entire life. No one has control over them except for you. Physical gaming systems like my Nintendo DS Lite will eventually wear out, but more gradually than online games. When my copy of Mariokart DS fails, it will be after more than a decade of service.
If the death of a DS game comes after a long life, the death of “Theme Hotel” is tragic and sudden, enacted by things beyond my control. So goodbye, “Theme Hotel”, and thanks for all the memories.