Habbo Schmabbo

As far as virtual reality chat rooms go, Habbo Hotel is pretty good in that it knows its limitations. Far from making an engrossing 3D world in the style of a First Person Shooter (FPS), Habbo gives you a cute cartoon avatar in a bunch of limited capacity rooms. The big side effect is the place is always full of kids (mostly British pre-teens), so don’t expect an insightful conversation or a high level of maturity. Of course, I never expect that when going into an online chat room.

It’s clever: It’s free to join, free to customize your avatar, free to make a room, and it doesn’t oversell itself to the public. The conversation mechanism is clever too — you can hear fragments of conversations as you walk through a room, since you have to be close to a person to hear what they are saying. Alternately, you can yell to everyone in a room, and all the little avatar heads turn to look at you.