The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
When I was a kid, one of my favorite online games was “Theme Hotel” (the name is misleading – there’s no way to choose a theme). I would name the hotel after my dog and build each floor, adding increasingly ridiculous amenities like bowling alleys and movie theaters to appease my picky guests. For some reason, I loved this game. There was something charming about the little cartoon characters running around the screen and complaining about the lack of food establishments in the hotel.
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 to me at the time. Instead, I got a notice: “Theme Hotel” would no longer work because Adobe Flash Player no longer exists. There are no plans to convert it to a new playable format, as they will for more popular games like “Poptropica”. “Theme Hotel” is dead and will not rise again.
Losing things from your childhood has always happened and will continue to happen. The arcade you used to go to as a kid closes down or you lose your favorite toy train between grade school and college. In my opinion, however, there is something particularly shocking about losing something online. If my Wii game disc is scratched, I understand why I can’t play it anymore. I know the arcade can no longer exist as the building now houses a Chinese restaurant. With online games, this makes less sense. One day it works as usual, the next day it doesn’t. Physical things accumulate wear and tear before their inevitable breakdown, whereas online things can work perfectly one day and disappear the next. To add to the harm, “Theme Hotel” could continue to exist if even someone 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 web page you visited when you were a kid. 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 a group of people (like the creators of Adobe Flash Player) to release their product, and suddenly hundreds of games that seemed permanent are rendered utterly useless.
You can keep toys, stuffed animals, and anything physical from childhood for as long as you want. 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 life. No one controls them except you. Physical game 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, triggered by things beyond my control. So goodbye, “Theme Hotel”, and thank you for all the memories.