Habbo Hotel

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Over the last week I have been playing around with Habbo Hotel. My character is a fairly decent representation of me as MagdaO! My interest in creating character always lies in portaying me as a hyperbole. I have no and have never had interest to create characters removed from how I am in real life. I guess it's the vanity in me. Habbo Hotel is an interactive playground targetted at teens 13-18 but many kids younger than that use it. I did not enjoy the experience for several reasons:
  1. There are many rooms people can go into but the most popular are sponsored by big corporations. The MUCHMUSIC Headquarters is sponsored by Starburst with a person repeating some ctach phrase about Starburst and the different ways to experience it. Experience the burst of stars? I'll do that in other ways, thanks. There is a room. There are also advertisments characters can click on for more information.
  2. Even though you can make your own room, in order to furnish it you have to have Habbo credits. If you want to participate in official games, you need credits. Basically, if you want the thorough full experience of Habbo you must have an unlimited amount of credits. These credits although somewhat virtual and used for virtual stuff cost tangiable money. If you want a popular room, your parents are going to have to give you money. Chances are if your parents can spend money on credits they have a disposable income. This clearly translates and perpetuates class inequality. Children are taught that spending money will make them cooler and more popular.
  3. The personal rooms I visited that had lavish furnishings also seemed to have owners that were very bossy and cliquey. The whole vibe in every room as cliquey often resulting in a gang up on another character to force them to leave. There is no room for meaningful dialogue because everyone just says one liners to be witty or noticed. Everyone knows most teenagers are not witty at all. Conversations one-on-one happen through a portal but even that is heavily censored so people have to find ways around giving each other their email addresses or IM names. From talking to some of the characters, they mostly talk on MSN not AIM, and do so in conjuction to being on Habbo. Few people use the portal to actually have conversations, that is more for one off messages, mostly "come into X room" type annoucement.
  4. There is no knowledge learning that can happen. Networking is also something I found to be very unyielding and basically non-existent especially because it is hard to tell everyone apart.
Discussing Habbo with my 12-year old brother also solidified my critique of Habbo. He used to use Habbo quite a bit but stopped because of its lack in quality and heavy censor. The censor seems like a good idea to make Habbo a safe space, but if the target age is 13-18 then censoring all language and conversation isn't neccesarily the best idea. Overall, I think Habbo Hotel has nothing to offer any of its users other than expendable entertainment.

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  • I'm MAGDA O!
  • From Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • I'm pretty passionate & sometimes scathing. If I piss you off or you agree, I like validation so email me your thoughts : m.olszanowski@utoronto.ca Maybe we'll end up fast friends & you can meet my cats.
  • Magda O!

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