Created in 2000, Habbo Hotel has become one of the most popular online games currently found on the internet. Players get to design their own character, which they control while interacting with other people in a large hotel setting. Over the years, it has been developed into a social networking experience.
The main demography is teenagers and younger people. 90% of Habbo players are aged between 13 and 18 years old. Users come from more than 150 nations. In 2012, it was reported that at least 270 million Habbo avatars had been created by members of the public.
Not only are players allowed to create their own unique character, but they can also design a hotel room and fill it with furniture. The primary function of Habbo Hotel is to interact and chat with others. People sometimes use the service to meet new people and organise online parties. There are also mini-games and quests which can be completed. However, these are just add-ons and are not a compulsory aspect of the service.
Concerns About the Game
Several parental groups and journalism sites have voiced their concerns over several aspects of the game. In particular, the anonymous nature of Habbo Hotel means that anyone can create an avatar and interact with young users. This means that dangerous individuals could potentially engage in online chat with children using the site.
Over the years, there have undoubtedly also been issues related to racism. News sites such as the Daily Mail have pointed out that “raids”, by internet groups such as Anonymous, have taken place to incite racial hatred. However, in recent years, a security crackdown by the game moderators has dramatically reduced these types of incidents.
Furthermore, there is an automatic filter in place which replaces offensive phrases with the word “bobba”. Because of this filter, children are unlikely to experience swear words while playing. In 2012, there was an extensive overhaul of the chat system, and an effort was made to prevent online bullying.
Since its inception, Habbo Hotel has been praised for its colourful look and engaging interface. The site has become very popular among teenagers. A year after its release, it was listed on a Daily Telegraph top 10 instant messaging site poll.
The Australian version of Habbo was given a NetGuide Online Web Award for Best Kids Website in both 2005 and 2006. The revamped version of the game was awarded Most Innovative Launch Campaign Prize for 2009. Habbo Hotel continues to have a large number of positive reviews from users.
However, Common Sense Media has been critical of the service. This non-profit organisation advocates for child safety and views Habbo as dangerous. They have rated it one star out of five, as well as recommended that no child of any age use it.