Habbo started from an idea in 1999 by the Finnish Sampo karjalainen. Its beta version went online at the end of January 2001. At its peak it had a total of 22 servers worldwide, but it currently only has 9 servers, but that doesn’t mean that the game has become any less popular as it has 800.000 active players in over 115 countries, as rapported in January 2021.
What is Habbo
For those who have lived under a rock and don’t know what Habbo or Habbo hotel is, I will explain it in this paragraph. Habbo explains itself as:
“Habbo is an online vintage pixel-art style virtual community where you can create your own avatar, make friends, chat, build rooms, design + play games and so much more! Almost anything is possible in this strange place full of outstanding people.”
I personally would explain Habbo is an online gaming community, focused on teens and young adults (but a lot of children are also on it) where you pretend that you live in a giant hotel, and you can build your own rooms and avatar, and there are a lot of roles playing and showing off your Habbo wealth. Though it is somewhat regulated, it is still for the large part not regulated, seeing as moderators have too much power and quite enjoy that power.
Habbo and money
Habbo though appearing to be free does have a lot of costs if wanted to enjoy properly. There is an exclusive club called the Habbo Club, started in 2002, that gives you a lot of extras for example new outfits hair and furniture being able to purchase. The price to join the Habbo Club is about 50 credits and 50 diamonds a month, or 120 credits and 120 diamonds per three months. This would translate to 12 euros per 3 months. But this is only a rank it doesn’t buy you the furniture and the rare items in the game that can go for nearly 5000 diamonds which would translate to 750 euros. With this it makes Habbo one of the first popular freemium games and micro-transactions. Which also makes Habbo for some a place to earn money. They would run scams, casinos and mafias. In the Netherlands the biggest Habbo Mafia is the Imperial Maffia, and they have their own website and they openly shows their income.
For more information on habbo financial scams I would recommend watching these videos:
Habbo and sex
Habbo though looking innocent on the serve was actually very perverted, seeing as it is a site mostly visited by teenagers. One of these perverted things is that there was a lot of cyber sex or sex chats. What you would do is have a relationship with another player, or you would do it with random people, but you would mostly go lay down in a bed next to one another, change into more uncovered clothing and write sexual messages to each other.
Sometimes it would even go as far as exchanging people’s real social media and having webcam sex. These hormones resulted in Habbo having strip clubs, sex clubs, and even some sex cults. But Habbo being such an under-protected and hormonal-driven website also had some of its downsides, with Channel 4, in 2012, reporting on paedophiles roaming the hotel having sexual chats with minors. They would even go as far as exchanging socials.
What can we learn
The thing with sites such as Habbo is that they are not that well regulated. It can cause problems such as fraud, scams, and paedophilia. Nowadays, sites seem to be better regulated, but it doesn’t mean that it has become better. I however think that this regulation is not good enough because the web also has become, for me more dangerous as it was in 2008. I think that even though china’s new regulation on gaming is a bit extreme, that they have the right idea that children need to be better protected on the internet.