Monday, November 3, 2008

HABBO Hotel is a Glorified Chat Room - Needs VOIP ASAP

Habbo Hotel, a glorified chat client says blogger Tatum. And you know what? PG agrees. Sulake spends so much on "game enhancement" and "new features" which is probably why it has lost money every year since its launch (2000) but hardly any of the HABBO's actually play the games, the virtual item (furni) catalogue is full of 10's of thousands of antiquated stuff that hardly sold while the HABBO's just want to chat it up. HABBO needs VOIP ASAP and it needs to start charging for it as a premium service;

"While Habbo Hotel is not exactly like the MUD’s of Curtis’ description, it does share a few key aspects. There is no ending or winning of Habbo Hotel; it is primarily a glorified chat room. Habbo Hotel does have a graphics, and each person “expresses themselves” through their personalized avatar and room. Each character has a room, which they had add furniture and objects too, by buying Habbo Hotel cards at convenience stores. There are casual games within the Habbo Hotel world, and one can go and play games with another player. But Habbo Hotel is primarily played by young teenagers and often, the social phenomenon I discovered was each room was filled with “Pretty or Not” contests. Avatars who are not pretty enough get kicked out of the room, haha. In my experiences with Habbo Hotel, my female avatar was constantly bombarded by male avatars asking me to be their Habbo Hotel girlfriend. Mnookin describes Habbo Hotel perfectly although he is describing LambdaMoo when he states, “At any given time, hundreds of characters are logged on at once, talking, programming, flirting and fighting; LambdaMOO is a virtual community.” I was surprised by how many kids actually play Habbo Hotel because I find it rather boring. Even though I was reading many hilarious conversations, I prefer Neopets.

Habbo Hotel mirrors MUDs by allowing social structures to be constructed and deconstructed. (Mnookin) Children can be whatever they please on Habbo Hotel, and it seems that it is rewarding to play a female avatar in Habbo. I received a lot of attention just by having a girl avatar. Because Habbo is a children’s MMOG, there are many game moderators watching chat logs and banning anyone who messes around or harasses another player. There are also tons of chat filters within Habbo and in particular, the word, “bobba,” is rampant in Habbo. The filter seems almost pointless because the kids know exactly what “bobba” stands for, and thus, are constantly saying “bobba” in whatever they are discussing. I would not recommend to take the filters out, but they seem pointless nonetheless.

Habbo Hotel did not make me feel as if I was doing anything productive with my time spent there. In contrast, in thirty minutes spent playing Neopets, I can feed and play with my pets, complete a quest, and perhaps make a few 100 np or neopoints. On Habbo, all I could do was play a few games and talk to people because I refuse to pay real dollars for Habbo furniture. Although, I was disenchanted with Habbo Hotel, many players use their Habbo dollars to make beautifully decorated rooms. As Pearce argues, “boundaries between play and production, between work and leisure, and between media consumption and media production are increasingly blurring.” Kids take their Habbo cards and with the money buy furniture, and in some cases, create tasteful rooms. There is an art to arrangement. Many other MMOGs offer a bit more self expression than Habbo, but even Habbo Hotel offers their players a room to design however they please. Like Lucasfilm’s Habitat, “a cyberspace is defined more by the interactions among the actors within it than by a technology with which it is implemented.” Habbo Hotel in comparison to most MMOGs like World of Warcraft or Cities of Heroes, has awful graphics and hardly any gameplay, but still the game flourishes. Habbo Hotel is a chat client with graphics on top, but some people find this place to be a third place for them.

If I was to improve Habbo Hotel, and I believe it much needs improvement, I would start by adding more content. Designing a room and playing some, mostly broken, casual games is not enough to keep me signed on to Habbo to chat. I enjoy pets and taking care of things so perhaps adding a companion to the game. Companions could easily fit the teenager feel of the game and could be used in the "Pretty or Not" contests. Only pretty pet's owners get to stay in the room. Also, I am a fan of casual games, but most of Habbo's were broken. They should take the time to fix their games and add more rewards for playing. I think Habbo needs an in-game economy and money that is not entirely based on real dollars. Neopets does this well with their neopoints and neocash, neocash being real life dollars. Most of the game's content is available with neopoints, and neopoints are gained by playing games and the economy. This makes the game give a much more productive feel which Habbo is in desperate needs of. One could simply play the games within Habbo and earn Habbo dollars which can be spent to improve your avatar or room. That simple change would improve Habbo immensely. Habbo needs more interaction beyond mere chatting about avatars, and this can be easily done by adding more games and content.
~Tatum Clanton, gth760n

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