Hidden Pockets of the Net:
Miss Boop & Tourney Pages
When I first stumbled upon BoopSTCPages I was dazzled and enchanted by the colorful and comforting old-school style designs.
Clearly, I could tell this was a site that made webpage designs, but I wasn't quite sure 'for what'. The language on the top of the page says "Boop and Friends / Welcome / For all your tourney needs!"
I did a brief google search on 'tourney' that only brought up Smash Bros tournaments, which I highly doubted was relevant, but I was quickly distracted by the charm of the designs. I found myself drawn to this website because of it's vibe. I kept going back to it, delighted to see what I'd find.
A 'tourney' page, as featured on Boop's site, consists of what looks like a piece of fancy parchment paper on your computer screen. The 'page' has multiple borders and a glitter gif centered at the top. The background is a carefully matching and hand-designed seamless pattern. Each page is marked 'BettyBoop Designs'.
As I continued checking out different pages, I noticed that some of them have background music autoplay upon load, and I couldn't help but smile.
Toward the bottom of the page, a public work schedule is linked that displays in-progress orders, how they came in, and what their status is.
There's also a form where people can submit information for their tourney page. The submitter explains what colors, theming, and text they want, and they can even select a specific designer to do the work.
They charge for the pages, one animated page for $5.00 or six pages for $20. At first I was a little taken aback - I'm always skeptical of people charging money for services - but this feels too wholesome to judge against the harsh realities of capitalism.
What are Tourneys?
I was itching to find out what a 'tourney' is and what kinds of people use these templates. I did a little more digging.
This time, my searches led me to a website called MyLeague. The vague front-page statement reads "Welcome to MyLeague.com! Play your favorite online games while competing with other players across the globe. Join a League today to get started!"
When I click on the "Leagues" tab, it shows me a few of the most popular leagues. One is called "Kanasta_Friends". Another is called "The Spade Asylum and More", and I also see "Let's Play Gin 2".
Upon closer look, the leagues are labeled with a service. I see Pogo - familiar to me because this is what my mom uses to 'play games online'. She likes to play card games and other mini games like crosswords, scrabble, etc. She has 'daily' quests and wins gems and can dress up a little avatar. (I buy her a subscription to the website for $40 a year.)
So, basically, tourneys are tournaments that a group of people hold online, for games like Spades, Canasta and Dominoes, usually played on sites like Pogo or Safe Harbor Games. The winner of the tournament wins a prize. I found this upcoming 'Tourney' as an example of a finished page (don't mind the country music, lol).
The site MyLeague is owned by a parent company named Case's Ladder. Their description reads "Case's Ladder is the leader in Internet gaming ladders, leagues and tournaments. The company, founded in February 1996, offers both free and premium membership programs to mass-market game players."
MyLeague uses a virtual currency system called Ladderbux. According to the page, "Everyone on a Ladder or League has the opportunity to earn LadderBux on a daily basis by participating on the site. LadderBux can be earned by logging into your account and by participating in tournaments. The amount of LadderBux you can earn in tournaments varies, and LadderBux are not always available as prizes in tournaments." It also mentions you can earn extra Ladderbux as a 'Premium' member.
There are three Premium tiers: Gold, Platinum and Diamond. A Gold membership is $29.95/yr, Platinum is $9.95/mo and Diamond is $24.95/month.
Ladderbux can be exchanged for real prizes, as listed on this page. As of right now, they have prizes such as Kindle eBooks, bracelets, earrings and bird feeders. It appears to show around 10 items at a time.
While the 'prizes' section of each tourney uses language like, "1st place gets 100% pot", it was never clear whether the players use real currency, or just Ladderbux.
The history of Case's Ladder is outlined in this comprehensive essay. Case's was the first gaming site to implement a prize point program.
They also had a cute BBS-style page where the website staff would post notices about closing their office for the holidays and other events: here , but it hasn't been updated since 2020.
This part of the internet may be dying as well. One user writes on a League forum, "what is happening to our wonderful league??? not enough hosts? I know we have enough players...but no tourneys like we used to have".
Sites like Boop's
Toward the bottom of Boop's page is a 'sister site' section with similar websites, such as:
Some sites charge for their designs, some ask for donations and others don't accept any form of compensation.
All in all, this was a pretty cool rabbit hole to stumble upon. It's safe to say these are 'living remnants' of the older internet.
One thing I've noticed after checking out older websites (especially abandoned archives from the Geocities era), it becomes clear that there was a different sort of relationship between real life and the internet. The trend of the designers having schedules and publicly posted days off, tracking their orders manually online, and even the MyLeague Staff BBS with alerts - these feel very cyber-rustic, relics of a softer time.
I reached out to Miss Boop to compliment her on her craftiwork, and she responded promptly.
"I'm happy you are enjoying the pages, not many people write to me and tell me this. Gives me a good feeling. Thank you!"