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World Review: Habbo Hotel


 
Main Review

Compatible with Operating Systems:
Win 98se Win 2K Win XP MacOS

World Status: Operational


World Purpose: Social

Age Suitability: Juniors (below 12), Young Teens, Teenagers


World-Type

Habbo Hotel is an isometric, tile-based world, designed with children in mind. It takes place inside a hotel, in which there are several dozen rooms, and outdoor facilities to visit, whilst Habbos can register their own rooms, and decorate them according to their taste in furniture or ?furni? which is purchased with real money.

Habbo has an interesting chat system, which is limited, by distance. Up to five tiles away, you can hear the normal chat of another. However, as you move further away, the text becomes more and more garbled until it just appears as a collection of dots. This interface shows a semblance of how normal conversation might appear and allows several conversations to go on in the same room, without interrupting each other.

Sadly, whilst Habbo is persistent, it is not collaborative. Whilst there is some interactive scenery, unless it is something that changes your avatar?s costume, no one else sees the result.

Sulake Inc., the company behind Habbo Hotel, state on the each of the world?s three websites, that they are pledged to ?provide a safe, moderated environment?. Unfortunately, during the three-week course of this review, no evidence of moderator presence was found.

The World in Brief

Habbo Hotel consists of three worlds, each slightly different, although with many points in common. Each hotel is dedicated to a specific country, in the order depicted in the screenshot above that would be: the US, the UK, Canada.

Each world is supposed to be dedicated to its own country, however, you tend to find a good mix of people from all over the world in each hotel, along with a good mix of age groups.

What was found however, was plenty of evidence of open cybersex, both consensual and non-consensual in the main rooms, along with scams to extort money from participants, people being cajoled into giving out home addresses, or that of their school, rampant racism, and tendency to look down on newcomers. As Habbo Hotel is specifically marketed to children, these developments are worrying.


Normal scene in Habbo Hotel

 

Sub Reviews

Here at Virtual Worldlets, we look at all worlds, whether for entertainment, training, medicare, industry or military use. Thus, we have the situation where different uses judge by different criteria. Below are a series of sub-reviews, each tailored to a different aspect of the world.

Explorers
For some, its the thrill of discovery, the freedom to strike out, to pioneer. Whether its mapping new lands, or exploring unknown fields of endeavour, to be first, to boldly go, this is what explorers live for.

Habbo Hotel has some scope for explorers. The main hotel in each building has a wide collection of rooms, all different, and many which go on and on and on. In addition, most members have their own rooms, though the majority of these are small, as room size, costs money.

Ultimately, Habbo is small enough that you can see more or less everything, in a couple of days, then it becomes monotonous, with next to no outside environments, just a lot of walls.


The rooftop, outdoor environment: Habbo USA

 

Socialisers
The social life is the life for you. To chat, to roam, to gossip all day, and chatter all night. You are the heart of the party, and you are the soul. The drive to chatter, the need to gossip, stretching out, making connections, mind against mind, heart against heart. It keeps you going, it keeps you sane.

Habbo Hotel is at heart a purely social environment. The wide variety of public rooms emphasise this fact, with pizza parlours, caf? shops, hallways lined with plants and benches, night clubs, at least one theatre per hotel, and a great many lobbies.

There are five chat methods available:

1. Normal Speech: Heard up to five tiles away in any direction, normal speech appears as chat bubbles with your name in them. These bubbles eventually drift up, off the top of the screen, and are heard by anyone in the vicinity.

Further away, other people see decreasing amounts of text, becoming more and more garbled. After about 15 tiles, they see nothing at all.

2. Shout: Heard right across the room, this appears in chat bubbles with bold type. Again, with the name of the person beside them, these allow people to call across the room to each other ? or stand right in the middle, hawking a product, service, or hurling abuse unmolested.

3. Whisper: Person to person direct communication, appears in a chat bubble as the word ?whisper? in Italics. That you are whispering is obvious to everyone else, they just do not see what you say.

4. Instant Message: Via the yellow datapad at the bottom of the screen, you can see any friends who are online anywhere in that hotel, and send them an instant message, wherever they are. Note, it does not work across different hotels.

5. E-mail: Anyone can send you an email from Habbo hotel, they use the one you gave when creating your account. They do not get to see it, simply click ?e-mail? by your name in the yellow datapad, and compose a message.

Messages arrive in your inbox, but direct reply by e-mail is not possible, the sending address is an alias, and will just bounce replies ? it has to be done in world.

Additionally, the world tries to protect users from offensive terms. It replaces anything it finds offensive with the word ?bobba?. Offensive terms include swear terms (although most people get around this, by putting a single dot in the middle of a word), email addresses, any word with two or more dots in it ? assumed URL.


Normal Conversation


This protection is not enough however. With flagrant abuse of the rules, rampant cybersex, bullying, and oppression, this world would be a haven for paedophiles. Sulake Inc, the makers of Habbo actually say on their website:

Is it a safe place for my child?
Habbo Hotel is patrolled 24 hours a day by trained, professional staff called Moderators. They can be recognised by their badges. Moderators can alert, kick and ban Habbos who break the rules. Moderators can be asked for help from any room in the hotel through the blue question mark.


Whilst it is by no means conclusive, no moderator was present / available during the three-week period this review was conducted over. However, plenty of evidence of open cybersex, both consensual and non-consensual in the main rooms, along with scams to extort money from participants, people being cajoled into giving out home addresses, or that of their school was found.

 

 

Overall
Habbo hotel is a chat world. It has no achievement criteria, no way to kill other participants, or inflict in-world harm. Griefers of that sort, are not problems. However, the lack of moderation, coupled with the fact it is intended for children as young as eight, would make this world a haven for those who prey on children, and as such, for your child, it may be best, avoided.

 

Rating 46.5 / 100
Newbie Friendliness
7.0
/ 15
Community Values
5.0
/ 15
Believability
6.0
/ 15
Immersion
5.5
/ 15
Administration
1.0
/ 10
Automated help
6.0
/ 10
Code Integrity
9.0
/ 10
Entertainment
7.0
/ 10

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Client OS:Win 2K, Win 98, Win 2K, Win 2K

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