Game

Nickelodeon’s The-N.com created a blueprint for the fandom, in the early 2000s.

Finding an online community is easier than ever. Social media platforms have simplified the routes of connection, as young people stick together through Discord server and proper TikTok trend. However, back in the 2000s, the internet was just beginning to connect people through message boards, webcomicsand game sites. And for more than four million teenagers discover who they are in the first few years, a brief time Nickelodeon The TV channel and the channel’s website – where users chat, post in forums and play games with each other – have become refuges.

In 1999, Viacom and Sesame Workshop teamed up to launch Noggin, an educational television network focused on children aged 2-14. The station succeeded, made a profit and achieved 43 million households in two short years. However, its success has been hampered by a fundamental problem: Children go to bed earlyget their night block tracked.

Struggling to maintain their older audience, Viacom split Noggin’s schedule to appeal to their seventeen-year-old crowd. On April 1, 2002 at 6 p.m. ET, the Noggin logo dimmed onscreen for the first time and a hand appeared in its place, welcoming viewers to a whole new block of programming. : Block N. The new block feels like a Noggin sibling’s heatsink, and from that day on, the same channel will broadcast Dora The Explorer during the day and Degrassi: The Next Generation after dark. The plot on The N shows teenagers navigating real-life situations, such as pregnancy and substance abuse. Viewers have found themselves in shows like South of the VoidA groundbreaking film about making friends with lovers starring two young gay women.

Two female leads from South of Nowhere

Image: The N / Viacom

Tom Ascheim, President of Warner Bros. “We wanted to find a tool to help teenagers visualize their future selves,” said Global Kids, Young Adult and Classics, who founded The N during his 17 years at Nickelodeon. Ascheim credits The N’s soaring viewership for its show’s performance, as teenagers begin to “realize the life they might want to have.”

At the same time, the Internet has become the exclusive source of self-discovery for adolescents. Growing up online, in the ’90s, meant texting a best friend and connecting in AOL chat rooms. Online communities have begun to take shape. Some of these fill a gap in education: Millions of young girls are gathering on message boards like gURL.com, anonymously ask for advice on exposed objects. And by 2002, Neopets was proud more than 19 million users between the ages of 12 and 17. User is taking care of virtual pet, collect secret avatarand Neopoints game arrangement Meerca Chase. They also explore their creativity, designing their profile and clan page using HTML and CSS.

With competition stiff, The N’s digital partner needs to offer more advice on growing pains. Instead, the-n.com has grown into a bustling social hub for fans. Members have created detailed profiles and custom avatars. N moderated message boards are hosted where users discuss the latest episodes of Free radio station Roscoe or start topics to attract real-life fashion tips. Users can do one of The N’s many quizzes; there’s educational content on how to navigate groups in high school, as well as fun stuff like finding out if you’re Emma or Manny from Degrassi. Members blog about their daily lives and they can “Make Friends” with each other or send “Nmail” privately.

“For The N, [the website] is about community,” shared Ascheim, adding that “what we are doing is very much expected by the social world”.

Screenshot of WOMAN's website

Image: the-n.com / Viacom via The Wayback Machine

But more than anything else, teenagers and young adults went to the-n.com to play the game. Yes Killer!one Between us-like social reasoning game. Tall avatar and Avatar Prom is a high school version of The Sims in which players gain or lose points based on their interactions with other characters. Linka dating strategy game that eventually became “the biggest game we’ve ever made for The N,” according to Peter Ginsberg, co-founder of Thup Games, who also created Tall avatar and Avatar Prom.

The game becomes the highest traffic driver for the website. Careful to avoid disturbing the queens through “dressing up games,” Ginsberg specifically looked at The N’s online community when deciding which idea to recommend the next team. Thup Games ‘idea for’ Avatar Prom actually came from a casting sequence on N’s message board, Ginsberg said. At the same time, The N’s game creators wanted identity and representation to remain central to their game development.

“Together, we worked to create games that directly address social and emotional challenges,” says Ginsberg. That guide led to the players Tall avatar can design characters with a variety of skin tones and hair textures, and fans Link Discover same-sex love stories. This focus has proved profoundly influential with The N.’s online audience, as Ginsberg thanks to the diverse mix of writers and team at The N. Without both, Ginsberg believes they “could never achieve such a high level of engagement.

For all of The N’s successes, the network has encountered what feels like an untimely ending. Everything seems to be going well: By 2006, more than 40,000 teenagers attended stops all over the country Degrassi toured the mall, and in 2007 The N graduated from Noggin, switching to its own independent channel. Unfortunately, the transition did not go smoothly and certain cable providers were unable to give the channel a place in its product line. Nickelodeon began phasing out N’s programming and replacing it with TEENick, an entertainment block with no educational programming and no Noggin involvement. N lost ground in 2009, both its channel and its website shut down completely.

But fans remain unrelentingly interested in the site that helped raise them. Fans on Reddit continue reminiscing about the-n.com, while others are re-encoding the site from the beginning or archive media from the channel. Benjamin Reyna, who follows Benji, is of the second category as a creator Tumblr Archives The-Women. Reyna, who lives in Texas, has amassed over 10,000 followers since launching Tumblr in January 2019. His posts are often retweeted by people who miss the channel and its community as much as he.

“There is something unique about The N,” Reyna said, sharing that he was an instant fan. Degrassi but found out about other shows by The N through ‘s channel self-promotion and interstitials. “The South of the Void ads feel like a dreamy slideshow. It was easy to understand and felt like what I went through at that age. ”

After The N closed, Reyna joined The N-focused communities on LiveJournal and connected with other teens on MSN Messenger. Being a sentimental person, he started his own Degrassi and N Tumblr to keep the channel’s memory alive. When looking for new content to share, he saves media using Back camera. Some of the objectionable content even came from his own hard drive: “Back then, there was no YouTube and TV shows weren’t on iTunes or Amazon, so I would go to-n.com and save everything.”

Screenshot from The N's website, showing Avatar Prom

Image: the-n.com / Viacom via The Wayback Machine

Reyna did not think there could be another community as distinctive as the one founded by The N.. “Just clipping and streaming now,” he explains, speaking to the sites created by today’s networks. Social media seems to have replaced the kind of community found on those stub sites. As the new season of the current TV show, Tweets and TikToks about teen shows like HBO Max’s Happiness and Netflix’s Outer bands flooding people’s feeds, creating a sense of community for those channels. But old fans of The N know how good they used to be. “[Networks] Reyna said. “It just doesn’t feel special.”

As for whether The N or its games could return, Ginsberg regretfully confirmed that they no longer own the rights to Link, Avatar Prom, or whatever game they made for The N – Viacom. However, he shared that there are plans to roll out The Hook Up 2before the-n.com closed.

“We were over 60% when The N started joining TEENick,” he revealed, sharing that every few months for the next few years, someone at Viacom would ask about its progress. After officially shutting down The N in 2009, Thup Games reviewed The Hook Up 2 completely removed.

For now, we’ll just have to keep reliving the channel’s glory days through archived Tumblrs, YouTube pixel game recordings, and Degrassi Screenshots reappears as a Twitter meme. Although The N may be gone, fans are sure that it will never be forgotten.

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