A 20-year-old who played Habbo Hotel in her teens describes for Channel 4 News how secrecy and virtual sex became “addictive” – and the main reason for playing the game.
Seven years ago I sat with my friend in her dining room meeting strangers on Habbo Hotel. We explored the rooms in the game, chatted with other players and had “avatar sex” with them – all this happened while her mum was in the next room, writes Chloe Hammond.
It was addictive. Every time we logged on we experienced the rush of discovering something new about sex. We knew we were being naughty and we knew that if our parents or other friends found out about it, it would be the end of our little secret. It only happened over the space of a few months whenever her dining room was free, but it was enough to be involved in the kind of pornographic conversations revealed by Channel 4 News.
It all started out innocently, chatting to other players about school and other teenage things. But soon strange avatars were coming up to us and “kissing” us, “touching” us and asking us to come to their hotel rooms where it carried on. After a while we got to know how to talk like they did and started “doing” things to other players – always without consent.
Advice for parents: Habbo and online gaming - how do I protect my child?
On the surface we found it hilarious. Not for one second did we imagine that these weren’t teenage boys, or consider why the people behind the screens were asking to add us on MSN Messenger. I only visited Habbo Hotel a couple of times on my own and somehow it just wasn’t as funny. Thankfully I wasn’t groomed by older players and became bored and went back to Myspace.
Yesterday I told my mum about all of this. She was shocked but not angry. It was a long time ago, she said, but if she had known what I was doing, naturally she would have banned me. My dad was less relaxed about the whole thing and I felt 13 all over again confessing what my friend and I had been up to. Until this week I had forgotten all about our secret dining room romps, and I almost wish it had stayed that way.
Chloe Hammond is a pseudonym.