So during this time, everyone is sharing their back stories! Guess whose turn it is! I shall now tell my own story. My place in Poptropica is mostly revolving around bizarre ideas, bizarre circumstances and…bizarre luck. Seriously, some of these circumstances are because I was in the right place at the right time. My story is kinda strange since everything kinda happened so fast. Enough rambling. Well let’s get started, shall we?
Before Poptropica | A Dreaming Child
I am an only child. No siblings to grow up with. No older sibling bullies or annoying younger siblings share a household with me, so I ended up growing up knowing how to keep myself occupied alone. As a child, I would go upstairs to a little playroom and I’d carry around dolls and making up juvenile, but determined, storylines for them to act out. I’d stand dolls up on a “stage” (aka a table hockey board) and dance to Bratz songs over and over again (yeah, I know, but those were the elementary school days…). I didn’t realize it then, but that was when my love of storytelling began. It just wasn’t written yet.
My enjoyment of writing creatively didn’t come into full swing until 3rd or 4th grade (I do know that I was 9, though). Most kids in their free time would doodle all over their notes. I, however, wrote stories. Yes, they were childish and inspired by what I’ve seen recently, but they were stories through and through. I believe one was inspired by Jim Henson’s Labyrinth. And another The Jetsons. 75% of the book may be drawings, but a story was still being told. Looking back now, I see how awkwardly bad they were, but I loved them back then. I had so many ideas that I ended up not finishing some stories because something else appealed to me at the moment. In fact, one story that I actually finished had an evil circus ringmaster named Raven. Still looking back on it today, I found it so funny how something I saw as a hobby ended up evolving as time went on.
March – July 2010 | Discovery
Maybe it was my love of a good story that lead me to discover Poptropica in March 2010. I was in the sixth grade. I wasn’t recommended by a friend or whatever- I discovered it on my own. Poptropica wasn’t really popular within even my elementary school- kids were more talking about Club Penguin (of which I was never a member of) and Webkinz (of which I was). Before then, I was a big fan of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series since Rodrick Rules, and of course, that lead me to the “About the Author” page on the website for the movie. It was there that I saw… that Jeff Kinney actually works on an online virtual world? My curiosity was piqued and I checked it out. I recognized its host site, Funbrain, from when my mom showed me a site featuring a board game of educational games that I played around third grade. After a bit of nostalgia, the moment of truth arrived.
When I created my character, the very first name that came out was “Brave Tomato”. I snickered a bit. I didn’t really like the name, and I didn’t even like tomatoes yet, but it was given to me and I ended up stuck with it (I didn’t know at the time that selecting “change all” could change my name). I still remember the very first island I landed on: Reality TV, the newest island at the time. As you know, the island lands you from the blimp into the dumpster. I snickered again- I was recognizing the sense of humor that wouldn’t be a stranger to the Wimpy Kid books. However, being tossed in a virtual world with no idea what my goal was or what to do left my young mind very confused. This wasn’t anything like a virtual world I also went on, Nicktropolis (yes, the same virtual world that made Poptropica change its name), with its live chats and mini games hubbub, nor did it have fluffy stuffed animals that I can build houses for like in Webkinz.
Eventually, I did end up finding out through island trailers what I had to do, and I got my first island medallion in Time Tangled Island. I went around other islands, trying to make as much semi-progress as I could. I had been playing for a month, but then something happened that made me no longer think of the game as just a throw away when I’m bored to becoming one of my favorites: Mythology Island.
Mythology Island actually came to define a part of me. I was enthralled by the topic and ended up reading other books that revolved around the same topic, and school helped with that too. It came to a point where I had memorized plenty of myth facts. I read books about it, both obscure and well-known. I don’t think anything as simple as a game could ever do that to me, to make me so curious and entranced about the topic. This is mainly why I say that Mythology Island is my favorite island, whenever I’m asked.
July – December 2010 | The Silent Observer
However, I still had a hard time playing islands, and I needed some form of help. So I went over on Google and simply searched “Poptropica”, and I ran into the first fan blog I have ever visited: Poptropica Secrets with Fierce Moon. Hm, a popular first Poptropica fan blog, huh? I used her walkthroughs to help me with islands I had trouble with. I wanted to say something in the comments, but I didn’t have an email yet, so I was left to be a silent observer. Instead of making comments myself, I scrolled through comments, until I came upon a girl whose icon was a Poptropican with black hair and wore a swan ballerina outfit with a black jacket over it and with a black hat.
Her name was Super Thunder (longtime PHB viewers and community members might know her as a previous PHB author). I noticed the link on her name, so I clicked on it and it led me to her blog. Up till this point, the only Poptropica blog I visited was Poptropica Secrets. And along the way, I also found out about the Poptropica Help Blog. To be honest, back then, it wasn’t a blog I’d check every day but it was there in my head. I still didn’t have an email, so I still had to be a silent observer. I really wanted to talk to these people and find my place within that crowd. No one I knew in real life has played or even heard of Poptropica, so I was on my own when it came to that.
I tried to model myself after the bloggers I have seen- especially noting that they have a constant signature outfit. I became a paid member around the time Great Pumpkin Island was coming out, and I had a full deck of store costumes at my disposal. Inspired by Super Thunder, I ended up mimicking the fact that she had used the biker hat and jacket. However, to prevent myself from being a copycat, I instead used the pop star’s straight hair, the rock star 2’s broken heart shirt, and a pair of jeans as my costume. It was also at that time that I first started wearing the rock star 2’s star on my cheek, and I dedicated it to being my signature. I started to daydream about having my own blog called the “Poptroparazzi” and inner ideas of my very first fanfiction were starting to develop. Despite all this effort, my desire to be a part of the community was still a dream.
2011 | Becoming a Part of the Community
However, everything changed when the PHB’s very first author night came around. I was excited. Confused, but excited, and when the night came, I went onto the chat room. Since I was new on Xat, I ended up starting off with a strange name: SnookiePums (I have no idea how I remember it). I said the simple “Hi”, and people said hi back. I was semi-excited, semi-nervous. I always have called that feeling “nervou-cited”. I knew that some of them were bigger time people within the community and I didn’t want to make myself too much of a fool. I then changed my name into “GreekChic” and finally, I officially called myself by my Poptropican’s wacky name: Brave Tomato. I first met Fishy there (back when she called herself hi.juyo) and I kinda asked a question about what inspired the PHB. There were many more questions I wanted to ask her, but I didn’t want to look like a weird fangirl. I guess you can say I was somewhat celeb-shy. I talked to people, and despite trying to tell myself to keep my cool, I ended up blurting out on the chat:
“I LOVE THIS PLACE AND I LOVE THIS WHOLE PLACE! This is the most fun I’m ever having!” Yup. That was me. Awkward.
I realized what I said and I thought to myself “Oh crap, I just screwed up”. However, it somehow ended up in the “memories” picture that was posted after the party. I was on the PHB! In…image form, and you can’t see my eyes, but still. (I was wearing the red southern belle costume for some reason that day. In the picture, I was next to the girl in the red ornament costume.)
After that, I found out I can go on and chat anytime I wanted to by going to the Poptropica Help Chat. On January 25, four days after I first started chatting with the community, I ended up with my first blogging job with Super Thunder on her blog. I’m not joking. Four days. To this day, I’m still baffled as to how she was able to trust a newbie like myself to be a part of her blog, but there I was. I came out of nowhere. A 12-year-old who hadn’t even played the game for a year, now a part of a Poptropica fan blog. Maybe it was strange luck.
However, I took the opportunity by the horns and gave it my best shot. I made posts, and I released the aforementioned fanfic series that, although a remnant from my childish storytelling endeavors with occasional questionable morals, will always have a place in my heart. Super Thunder was my tutor in the blogging world and we became somewhat of a duo of tight online friends. We’d make silly stories together and had a blast. I became friends with a blog runner, I told myself. I would never have thought that was going to happen to me. I became somewhat of an active member of the community after that.
2012 | Becoming a Part of the PHB
I guess Fishy must’ve noticed because I was invited to be part of the Poptropica Help Blog on New Year’s Day 2012. To be honest, I secretly wanted to be part of the team as well, yet like Spotted Dragon, I knew that one does not simply ask to join here. Fishy gave me the news that I was invited on the PHC, the same place where I got my first blogging job. I accepted the offer with calm delight in text form, but behind the monitor, I was mentally screaming in excitement. Me? Seriously, me? That girl who hadn’t even been on the chat and an actual part of the community for a full year? Now a member of one of the most popular Poptropica fan blogs on the Internet?
Like before, I took the opportunity by the horns. I had my ups and downs within the community, but they allowed me to become a much stronger person. I celebrated island releases (including an island release that allowed me to revisit a turning point in my interests), kept an eye on the news, commented, wrote stories, drew, and more. My middle school days drew to a close, and high school was just ahead. I had the opportunity to bond with my co-authors and became close with people in the community I would never have dreamt to be online friends with back when I was a silent observer.
2013-2014 | Expansion
2013 was when I started to take my art and fanfiction writing more seriously. I posted regularly on my deviantArt page and wrote a grand total of two fanfictions that year: Assembling the Returning Four, and My Sister, the Super Villain. I had fun writing both, yet when I look back on it now, I recognize its flaws.
With 2014 came another island that hit close to home: Monster Carnival. Upon playing, I was inspired to write what would become my longest (and favorite) one-shot fanfiction, Nevermore. Despite that, I took a break from writing after I finished it. I had a writer’s block, and it hit me hard.
2014 was also when I first started publishing YouTube videos. Nothing was a series yet, but I just wanted to make some things for fun. It was just iPad-recorded videos of me playing PoptropiCon: Spoiler Alert, but it’s something to get started from.
2013 and 2014 also brought along the end of Freshman year, Sophomore year, and the beginning of Junior year of high school. Was it really flying that fast? Was I really in 7th grade when I started? The latter year also had a correct island plot prediction (for Survival 4 and 5) and the first time I ever interacted with a Poptropica Creator- over on Twitter. Not to mention that Christmas gift from Dr. Lange. That was awesome.
2015 – Now | Above and Beyond
2015 was one of the most eventful years for me in the community. First off, I got a digital art program for the previous Christmas, and I was now able to make digital art share. Took a while to get used to, but when I somewhat did, it was a lot of fun messing around with it.
Secondly, I also predicted the backstory of Arabian Nights, and the Poptropica Twitter even said that I was “dead on”. Okay, now that was just ridiculous. Guess you can say I can make a story out of pictures? I don’t know. However, I’ll have to say one of my greatest moments was when Reign of Omegon walkthrough came out on the Poptropica Creators’ YouTube, Captain Crawfish said this line that will stick with me for a long time: “We’ll try our best to make this walkthrough better than Brave Tomato’s, but no promises!” Did… he just give me a shout out? ME? I swear, I feel like I shouldn’t deserve this sometimes, it feels so… surreal. That’s the best way I could describe my experience here in a nutshell.
In July, I got to talk with HP, Sam, SD, and Paul as we hosted the Poppies Award Show live stream together. That was a lot of fun. Really. Getting to talk to people who share this common interest was an amazing experience. Additionally, after a long time of not writing, I finally released my latest fanfiction “Forevermore”, a sequel to “Nevermore” and I also had fun with it too. It may help me with my love of writing stories for the future.
I feel like it was these past few years that I finally had it. My training was over. I was no longer just someone’s best online friend. I was no longer that random kid who came into the community. I was no longer defined by someone else’s achievements. I was no longer simply a silent observer.
I’m now my own person.
My name is Brave Tomato, and I’m 17 years old now. I’m a senior in high school, now. I’m somewhat of a geek. I like to draw. I like to write. I can sometimes piece together a story simply with pictures. I like hard rock. I’m the girl with the star on her cheek. I also make YouTube videos. And I always love a good story.
I can never be any more grateful to you all for the opportunity to be here right now, where I am. Creators, thank you for all that you’ve done for us and being just amazing people- we are so lucky to have creators like you. This is one of the best creator-fan relationships I’ve ever seen on the Internet! Co-authors, friends, everyone, thank you for the years. Thank you for the fun times we had, and I hope we continue to have. Thank you for welcoming me into this amazing fandom. Most importantly, thank you for being a part of the show. I wouldn’t have been feeling this was if it weren’t for you. This feeling of accomplishment, I believe I’d call it. It gives me a great new sense of confidence. I am really grateful for you all, I can’t say it enough.
And to think, it all started when a new user named “SnookiePums” had first said “Hi”, and after that time, it evolved to become “Hey guys, my name is Brave Tomato…
…and this is My Place in Poptropica.”