I would like to say Habbo Hotel spread from school child to school child like a Flash-powered lice infection, until it nested in my own home computer, because that is a colourful metaphor that expresses my distrust of the sickly internet games that plagued my early teens. But really I found it by chance. It was a mostly innocent sorta-MMO about being a tiny lego-like person in a cartoon chatroom. A game of dressing up in cool clothes and having shinier toys than your cyber-neighbour. And as such, the perfect game for the unwell years of the 2000s. I live with the shame of being one of the Hotel’s previous guests.
It was a chatroom with an avatar. You made a character, walked into the lobby, and explored the rooms and suites of other disgusting teenagers and kids. I do not know why we were there. Maybe I wanted to make friends nobody else could see. And to show those invisible friends my sweet new cool digital t-shirt. Maybe. Ultimately, I know not why the Habbos hotel. I was compelled simply by virtue of colour and affordability to check in to this cyber-labyrinth. It was free. You could give yourself a baseball cap.
The realm of the Habbos still exists, but the “hotel” has been dropped from the name of the website. The suggestion is that this is now a whole world, not a single building. But it is still free-to-play (and, it turns out, vulnerable to scammers). I like to think that old hotel is still there, however, in a forgotten and rarely visited corner of the Habbo continent. The paint peeling off the ceiling, the corridors filled with piles of unused collapsible seats. Its pool and restaurant frequented with unthinking daily ritual by a handful of dying patrons who never left.
Thanks for the memories, Habbo Hotel. I’m glad I checked out.