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#1 Episode - Vado & Elysse: On Identity

*Generic song*

Inês:

Hi guys. And welcome to Bobbacast! The podcast that will bring Habbos together, share their stories and lives inside the community and unfilters all what we always wanted to know about them, and the game. Starting by introducing myself, my name is Inês and I'm originally from Portugal. I'm currently in the Netherlands and I've been playing Habbo for a long time. Well, I stopped last year, but I still do some research about the community and I write some articles about it. Now I'll pass on to Niklas, our second host.

Niklas:

Thank you Inês. So, I'm Niklas, head of Content at Fuusio, currently an official Finnish fansite, but which are new global version. We thought that now might be a good time to launch this podcast. This podcast is about discussing current matters, but also looking back on interesting topics from Habbo's history, with guests that were part of those moments. And so we have today, with us here in the virtual studio, Josh and Elysse from Australia.


Vado and Elysse:

Hey, how are you?


Josh:

Thank you so much for having us. I'm so excited to be a part of the Fuusio Bobbacast. The first one ever. This is just such an honor. I'm so excited to do this and so happy to be talking about real things and things that are in the community that need to be spoken about. So I'm just so thankful to Tomi and Inês and Niklas and Elysse and everyone that's a part of this and Fuusio and HabboColor, everyone, and all of the international fansites.

Elysse:

Yeah, no, I'm definitely excited to get some conversations happening that aren't usually what we hear. So yeah, let's get to it!


*Song*

Josh:

So I'm Josh, you know me as Vado from .com. Um, I've been playing Habbo for about 15 years now, again with Inês, a a very long time. And that's more than half of my life. I've been pretty influential in a lot of things on however, I mean, in some ways in the game's history, like helping shape and build and create, empower the community with everything that we've created over the years from, you know, fansites to game ideas, to change within the community. Like you name it on the games history as most likely being a part of it in some way or another up until two years, 2018, I stopped playing same with Inês, but I'm back now. And I've got lovely Elysse here with me.

Elysse:

Hi! So my username on Habbo.com is LC22. It is the worst username I've ever made and I'm stuck with it because it's where I've made all my friends. And at this stage I've decided the amount of effort it would take to create a new account, get everyone to add me, move all of my stuff over. It's just more effort than it's worth. So I've got this trashy username for Habbo. I signed up in 2006. So if I think about it, they were probably much better usernames out there I could have had didn't think about, but you know, it's 15 years ago and 15 year old. Well, I would have been younger than 15, 15 year old past me not having a bar of originality. Apparently (laughs).

Josh:

I like it. No, I like it. Elysse, I love your username.

Elysse:

It doesn't mean anything. And everyone's like, Oh, it's an LC. Cause it sounds like Elysse?, I'm like, no, it's just two random letters and two numbers. Cause I thought that would be cool (laughs). So yeah, I've been playing for 16 years. I know, 15 years I signed up in 2006, 2005. So Oh, it's a long time. You don't realize how long it is until you sort of stop and take stock of how long it's been.

Inês:

So Josh, Elysse, how did you guys meet? Did you guys work on projects together before? What's the connection between you?

Elysse:

Yeah, so I think we met in.com. Josh is pretty well known and so I probably knew about him before I met him, but like, it's really hard because you meet so many people in Habbo and on online communities, I can't always remember or pinpoint them, but I think there was like an artist on habbo.com who was really prominent and who made an avatar for Josh. And I think that's currently your Twitter avatar, is that correct?

Josh:

No. So it's not, not right now. So there was a beautiful artist back on have Australia by the name of winter tea. And she created this beautiful art for me of my, of my Habbo character. And it was before really anyone was creating that sort of art for Habbo, let me just throw that out there. But she created this beautiful character for me and I made it my profile picture and I edited the name out of her watermark out of it. And Elysse messaged me randomly before we had met. And she was like, um, why did you do that? Well, you can't take the name out of it. I was like, no, I paid for it. It's fine. She was cool. So ever since then, I mean we've, as yeah, you said we've worked on projects, we've had multiple collaborations together, Elysse and I just have a connection that it just fills my heart because I can't thank Elysse enough. She really, you know, is the best person and we just worked so well together. So we've done a lot of things together, a lot of things that are dear to my heart and things for Habbo and things outside of Habbo. And we've even got, you know, more stuff coming up this year and later this year and probably even next year, you know, we just love working together. So,


*Song*

Niklas:

I think we could start with you Josh. You're a bit of controversial as a person or as a character.


Josh:

Well, you are right. I would say that I, the character of Vado is a bit controversial. You know, most people see Vado as a troll or like an alien, like human that has no heart and you know, is severely messed up. You know, I guess a little of that is true, but, uh, however, the persona, you know, the persona I've created from the beginning as a character Vado, you know, no one apart from a very select few nor the real Josh under the, the silly game character, you know, I would consider myself and this is just me talking about myself, but I would consider myself a very kindhearted person who cares deeply about everything I have interest in. And I've always given my a hundred percent at no matter what I do, you know, the truth is that we're all a little weird or messed up in some way, right? So weird as in unique or something that makes us different. So coming back to being controversial, I think that (sighs) there's no simple way to put it. It's a character, I guess you could say. And that's all it really is. Like I do think that, you know, there's things that I've done throughout the character Vado that is wrong and that I regret in that, you know, I wish I never did, but most of the time I consider myself a troll. So I feel like anything I do, I just, you know, it's, to me it's a, in a jokingly way it's to make people laugh. And if anyone's doesn't, you know, listen or like what I do, that's fine. And if people do, that's fine too. But I do feel like there is this sort of a reputation that, you know, I seem to have, that's not a positive one and that's okay. Not, everyone's going to have a positive opinion, but there are some that do have a positive opinion. So I dunno, like I do wish that I could change the perspective of people's mind about when they think about Vado and you know, hopefully I can achieve that one day.


Niklas:

Yeah. Right. And Elysse, while you aren't maybe as famous as...


Josh:

No yes she is! No, no, no. Let me it's all right. Yes, she is. She is famous. She gets noticed, she is famous. She is beautiful!

Elysse:

I would say that my fame different, I don't have a persona that I've created on Habbo. I've tried to always be as open as I possibly can about who I am. Like when I first joined, I had a fake name, I used to say to people, "Hey, my name's Kate", who's Kate? And they'd say, "Hey, Kate", when I entered a room and have her, it didn't last very long, cause I'd be like, who are you talking to? They're like, "you" know, no, I'm like, Oh yeah, that was a lie. Cause apparently changing the name online is the way to stay safe. And over the years I'm like, well, I can understand why people would have given that advice, but I just doesn't make it easy to be real. And uh, project the personality that I have in real life onto my online character and will just confuse me. So I got rid of Kate, um, Elysse came back full strong, and that's who I am. And I've always tried to be open about that. But through the collaborations I've done, that's where I've sort of built up a little bit of a name. So I've collaborated with Josh and Vado. And a lot of people come and recognize me from his music videos. And that's weird because I'm like, wait, really? You remember me? I'm not the person who released this. That's him! (laughs) I do think though, the recognition I get isn't from Habbo itself, but from another game that I worked on, which is Lasuni. But I think we'll talk about that a bit later if you guys want?


*Song*

Niklas:

I think we could jump to HabboSecrets now..


Josh:

Well talking about HabboSecrets, I mean, that was sort of the height of the persona of the character of Vado, right? That was when I reinvented fan sites. Me and my buddy, Vengas, who I've known equally, as long as Elysse, he came to me and was like, I have this idea and you know, fansites back then they were just the regular radio events.

Elysse:

Occasionally you'd have a forum. Yeah.

Josh:

But no one was really at the time in 2012 leading into 2013, Habbo, you know, that was when I think that they got rid of a lot of their staff and they made a lot of things automated or a lot of things came out of fansites. So me and Vegas noticed that, so we wanted to create something, uh, that allowed people, everyone, everybody to get an award without having to do the work. We wanted everyone to be able to get it because a lot of people struggled to get it or they didn't know how to play the game or, you know, they just wanted an easy way to do it. So we made it!

Elysse:

Just to clarify, we're talking about, uh, guides for the events, right?

Josh:

Yeah. We had the idea to post the guides, to allow people to earn badges. And at the time it was so controversial because no one did it, no one had done it. No, everyone, you know, the first sort of comments that were ever on the site was like, "take this down right now". "How dare you" purse that, you know, this, "this is reported" all these kinds of things. And now every fan site, every single fan site,

Elysse:

I think that's really exciting because as a community grows, you have to grow with the community and scale with the community. And one of the things that Habbo, or did to try and do that was automate their events, but they left behind the explanations. The interface, players had with staff, so having a guide on a fansite, which would have been a free sort of bonus for Habbo was great for them, but it's a shame that it was something that had to be really pushed for by, you know, a non official member and an outsider, I guess, to the Habbo official team.


*Song*


Niklas:

I know you had the HS Blackout, tell us what led to it.


Josh:

So when we first opened in 2013, I think it was Valentine's day. We just started growing as a community. I noticed that the community was growing and growing and growing, and that people really relied on this website and this complete reinvention of fan sites and what it meant to be a fan site. And because I was at Puhekupla, we got a list of, I pushed him for us to get a list, a short list of the new official fansites and HabboSecrets wasn't on it. And I was surprised! I was, I thought to myself, we, uh, one of the most used sites in the whole community, why would we not be eligible? And it went on for months. So because we didn't get that, I, it led to the HS blackout. I wanted to show the community. I wanted to show you the staff. I wanted to show everybody that we were purposeful and we were relied on. And I did that. There was so many messages to so many staff power to at the time she was the hotel manager. She was bombarded with messages because people wanted HabboScrets to reopen. And we were closed. We blacked everything out for a whole week. And looking back now, you know, a lot of people said, "Oh, it was just to seek attention". Or it was just to, uh, get more popular or famous or whatever, you know, whatever that means. But I wanted to show the community that we had a community, we were a family. And because we weren't respected enough to get an official status when we were the most relied on fansite at the time, I wanted to show everybody. And I did that. Everyone knew.


Niklas:

So what's happened after the blackout?


Josh:

Well, unfortunately it was the beginning of the end (laughs). Um, shortly after the, the blackout, you know, a lot of things happen, but the guy that was developing the site, he sort of, in my opinion, he noticed how popular the site was getting and that people relied on it. So he wanted sort of more of a say or more of power within the site. And I, even though he was a developer, he wanted to sort of take it in a direction that wasn't my goal or a vision. So I said, no, and he didn't like that. So unfortunately the site got taken down and I wasn't allowed to use his coding. And unfortunately that was the end of HabboSecrets, shortly after the blackout. Uh, we lost it a fair few good months.

Elysse:

I think that was the first wake up call for other fansites to go, well, actually, this is something that we do need, because you mentioned that, um, other fansites were really aggravated by the fact that you were giving out guides to their events and they really hated it. Um, they were like full anti-HabboSecrets, just like the staff where, but I think that was the wake up call that actually plays, did like having the answers for some things and making it easier for them to participate and join in the events that the community had access to. I know you said to be another time that like a couple of fansites joined him with the blackout with you guys, is that like, who was that?

Josh:

So this Habbo, are also blackout to their fansites out, which at the time they were official. So, I mean, yeah, it was a wake up call to a lot of people because a lot of people were, I like I have folders and folders of messages from people that would be pleading with me to reopen the site because events didn't stop events, kept going. But there were no answers, no other fansites were posting answers, everyone was scrambling because we shut our doors. And I wanted people to know that we were a community, a community that should have been rec. I wanted the people that worked for that site to be recognized for their hard work. We invented something that people then that's what I was always about: was family and community within the website and to, for them to not get recognition, it was not about me. It was nothing about me at all. It was about the community and, you know, showing like why couldn't we grow as a community as official like the other websites, just because we post the guides, which is now common practice. That makes sense to me.

Elysse:

I mean, coming from the perspective of someone who currently works with brands for my job, I can understand why sometimes Sulake, they might think it might be a good idea to cut ties with fansites because essentially each fansite is an ambassador for the website, for the brand. And you can't control people. Uh, you, yourself, Josh, you say that you are known to be a troll and that's a wild card for staff. Like, uh, I used to work with you on a competing website called the Lasuni. And we, uh, as a team before you were hired, were like, we discussed the fact that you had known as a troll and I had to go and bat for you and say, no, if you give him the job, he will work his ass off (funny noise) I'm allowed to say that? he'll work his butt off and he will get the job done because if he's passionate about it, he will do it right. Yes. He may be known to be a troll, but he is actually, uh, able to have that work ethic that you need. But for people who don't have that one-on-one knowledge of knowing people like, especially for the Sulake, um, Habbo staff, like they don't know each individual person on Habbo. They don't know how people are going to react and they don't know how it's going to reflect on Habbo in the end. We've got a lot of backlash on.com, uh, in relation to the black lives matters and how they have our ambassadors, official ambassadors, handled the moderation for that event. And that's unfortunate, but that's, that's what happens. You rely on people and teenagers or young adults to do the job of someone who should be paid to do it essentially. And you kind of have that wildcard factor so I can understand why they want to cut ties with fansites at times. But I think it's a real waste of passion of resources and of love for the game. Like each fansite is filled with people who love Habbo and want to do the best for Habbo and want to absolutely make the best thing they can possibly do, which at times can actually be better than a paid staff member on the team.

Josh:

I think the main thing that have her needs in general is just innovation. Innovation is so important because, you know, the last thing we really saw that was innovative at all was Wired. And that was 2010, was 10 years ago. You know, all we see now is room bundles or badges, right? There's nothing, there's no innovation in the game in a way that brings something new to the players that they would like to see. And all these other games that you see that are wildly popular, you see updates and updates and brand new things. And although we have seen some new things over the, I'm not saying wired was exactly the last thing, but it was the last game changer as Elysse said the other day to me. And I just think that that is what is missing because has nothing new, there's nothing exciting. There's nothing drawing people into the game. You know, a lot of users would answer that they need more staff. Right? I don't think that this is it. I think that it's definitely innovation. They need to completely ditch the hangout for teens tag, shift the game to target young adults, and remarket the game. So the casinos can be reintroduced because that was really, you know, a hit to the community when that got taken away. I think in 2012. I don't think that the game needs like 10 staff to be within the community. You know? Sulake has shown this as an ineffective waste of resources, really. I mean, a solid development team should be implemented to focus on the revitalization of the game to introduce new and exciting tasks for the game play. You know, just like why I did in 2010.

Elysse:

I mean, that's an interesting thought though, because if you think about it, young adults have the money, which is what they want to make the game profitable, but they don't necessarily have the time. So I know, I had a friend when I was a teenager who played Habbo, and her mum would buy her a Habbo card a month to keep her happy. And she would play the game constantly because you come home from school, you log onto Habbo, you hang out with your online friends. And I think as a online hangout for teams in a chat-based game where you just chat and built stuff like that was a really effective thing. If you wanted to make Habbo for young adults, you'd have to shift the model, I think. You wouldn't create Habbo. You would create something else. And you would just rebrand it entirely. You don't want Hotel Hideaway either because that's not what the young adults want. They just want a nostalgic Habbo if you're going to do that. So in that case, you kind of shift away from what we have currently into a more of a, even potentially a retro based sort of idea, because that gives the older audience, the freedom. The problem with that though, is that you can't really promote it within Habbo, the moment you promote it within Habbo you're exposing potentially 13 year old kids to this idea of a game, which is aimed at 18 plus, and you have so many other issues that would potentially arise from that. You don't want to open yourself to the lawsuit.

Josh:

Well, I just want to answer that though. I mean, with Macklebee, rejoining the team, you know, it's looking more plausible for innovation because he was really one of the lead developers and he really did change a lot of things in the game. I do believe though, that he was brought back on board to help them meet a deadline for Habbo 2020. I joined think that they were meeting a deadline. I think that they needed him. And personally, I do think that it is sort of a negative thing because I do think that a lot of things that we may take for granted on the game might become void or completely replaced, which for a lot of users is basic stuff like the follow tool or room boosting. I think that they're really trying to reinvent Habbo in a way that is going to change a lot of things. Macklebee and I don't really, we have issues too. He was responsible for things like the tax on Habbo credits. You know, if you buy a gold bar, it's 51 credits and you only get the 50, he was responsible for those kinds of things. So I think that although his return is going to be a good thing, I do think that, you know, he will make changes that weren't necessarily be in favor of the community.

Elysse:

I guess it's a fine line because they're trying to make a profit and maximize their profits and also figure out how far they can push it before the community quits. And if the community quits, if they can get new people in to replace that income with the tax, I think that was actually more directed at people who interact with the black market to try and discourage them from doing that, or at least so that they could get something out of the fact that people are illegally passing coins across different accounts without the right to essentially, because reselling of Habbo credits is illegal. According to the terms of service, we cannot do that. But the idea of that though, is to encourage you to buy straight from the furniture shop. Because if, if you're buying straight from the shop, you're not taking the credits out and buying things which have already been purchased in the furniture shop in, you know, the personal Habbo shops, I guess. So that in turn becomes more profit for them. Because once you buy that piece of furniture show, you might get some coins for it later, but it's more credits out of the ecosystem and into actual furniture, which is going to just be there.


Inês:

Oh yeah, apart from the business inside the game. What do you feel to be like to more engaging activities? Because it seems everyone goes there now either to the business... or?


Elysse:

I think one of the things that happen has done really well since it's embraced social media is really show off the buildings that people are making. I think that's a fantastic way to be embracing their community without much effort, seeing things that people are sending in the screenshots, people are posting on Twitter and using that to promote their game. I think that's an excellent social media marketing model to be taking for them. And building is a real art form in Habbo. You can create some amazing things if you have the skills or the know-how or enough time really. So I think the building community in Habbo is very strong and have done a very good job at recognizing them through Twitter, social media, and also through their Builders at Work competitions that they're currently hosting on.com. I think that's a great to sort of say, Hey, here are the best of the best. Let's put you onto the test. I guess (chuckles).

Josh:

I agree. And I attribute a lot of that as well. And it's something I don't say often, but I really think that Pulx helped showcase those kinds of things. He created, uh, his fansite and it did help to acknowledge and recognize those creative builders, those ones that can spend time and have that vision to make beautiful stunning rooms. And that's essentially the foundation of Habbo, is rooms. And I think that Pulx did a great job at helping, you know, to show, shed some light on those people. And I really commend him for pushing fan sites further and having that idea to, you know, be rewarded for the creativity that you can come up with just with some furniture, you know, um, everything else about him, though, it's just a no for me, but, uh, yeah, he did a good job at, you know, uh, having that idea.

Elysse:

I think though the downside of the building community is it can be quite an isolating community. It is something you can do alone. You don't need people around to be making a room. You might want them around to chat to, but it is a very isolating task. Whereas I think some of the other things going on around Habbo are a much more communal based. You do want your friends to be doing it with you, and that's the game sort of scene, which is predominantly dominated by fansites. I think fansites are the quickest way to make friends on Habbo. You want to get part of a community really quickly and easily? join a fansite. I think that is a brilliant, like a area for people who don't know how to make friends online as easily to be able to bridge those gaps and make those connections. Then I guess you've got the trading community, as you mentioned Inês, which I am somewhat on the fringes of personally at the moment, but I don't know how much I would say that they build deep relationships. It's all about profit. And like I've met some great people through the trading community, but I can't say I've met a lot of people who want to be open and keep those long lasting friendships going because they just want to sell stuff, buy more stuff, to sell stuff. And that's about it. They're not that interested in the long terms of friendship online. One of the communities I was really into when I first started Habbo was mazes and that's changed drastically over the years, especially with the introduction of wired, but that sort of brings in the building aspect with the skill of completing a task sort of thing. So it's a bit of a cross between trading, not trading, building, and, um, games. And I always did it with a group of friends. We'd all go and attempt the same maze. And I've still got a lot of those friends. I think that that was a really good community that I became part of when I first joined. What about you, Josh?

Josh:

I first started on fansites as well. Uh, way back in the day. It was actually, it was actually called Habbo Orange. Of all things it could be called, it was called Habbo Orange. And I was a DJ. I started out as a DJ. It was before my voice broke. So it sounded like there's a little dough deejaying and you know, it was fun.

Elysse:

Are there any recordings of this?

Josh:

Oh, I wish it was so long ago, but yeah, no, I still know people from back in those times and that's, you know, we really created this friendship for the last 10, 15 years. Um, and then I worked my way up, I guess, I eventually wrote news articles and then I was interested in graphics, so I did graphics and then I became earners of stuff (chuckles).

*Song*

Inês: Oh yeah guys! Is there, um, within the Australian community, how, how is it? Like is there a difference between .com?


Josh: The community is different.


Elysse: I think for Habbo AU, everybody sort of knew of everybody. Like you didn't have to be close to them, but there were big groups and you'd know basically who was in them because it was a much smaller like space of people. And so it was very tight knit in a way. I've got a lot of friends that I made through Habbo AU, who I knew about them a lot before I actually became friends with them. And sometimes like, if they were sort of seen as the coolest of the coolest, they would actually be quite standoffish and you couldn't get near them to become friends with them. And other people are like, "nah,everyone can be my friend". It's like, it was one or the other.


Josh:

Yeah. But I do think the community in Australia was definitely, absolutely different. I mean, it used to be, unfortunately Australia's community was almost completely diminished due to the merge. Um, and you know, we saw the introduction of less staff influencing the game around that time and it was made more about the community. And I do think that the other huge blow to the Australian community at least was the gambling ban. And it did see a lot of the members from Australia check out of have a refer good. There is still somewhat of a community today, but it's definitely not as strong as like the UK has like massive user base USA still has, you know, somewhat of a user base, uh, Singapore as well, for example, but, and same with international sites because they didn't emerge. But unfortunately for Australia and New Zealand, how community diminished, we, you know, that you don't see many Australian players from back in the day. Well, at least I don't anyways. I mean, I got sort of popular on Habbo Australia. I guess that's where I first started dipped my toe in the whole famous sort of thing. I would make videos back in the day too and people still know me for that. You know, you're like, there's a few players that still know me for that. So I do think that the sense of community is still there for Australia by, I definitely think it, it was very special back in 2004 to when it was popular, you know, Australia wise, it was really special. I think out of every hotel that was open, I think that Australia's staff really had something special to offer to the game. And you know, talking about personas back in there is times personas were brought to us mainly by Habbo staff because they invented sort of a persona for themselves to protect themselves and their identity in real life. And I think that that sort of is where personas stem from, is that Habbo staff where the pioneers for that and I attribute so much to the Australian staff.

Elysse:

I've mentioned Lasuni a couple of times during this podcast. And that's a game that I joined as a player initially, before I got hired as a staff member initially as an events coordinator and later as a community manager. And one of the things that they got me to do is create a new account. And I really struggled with the idea of, do I reveal who I am from the start or do I keep that as a separate entity so that I can moderate without people knowing it's me? in the end, I revealed that it was myself and what like sort of made that link between my player and my staff account. But I had separate accounts, one for playing and one for moderating so that people, if people came into the room and it was my user account and there was another staff member in the room, then you, I was off duty and someone else was working at the time, to keep that distinction. And that separation between that personal, uh, feelings, its personality and preferences separate from the job that I had been hired to do, essentially.

Josh:

Yeah, I did that too. I knew going into it because everybody knew the persona or Vado because I joined Lasuni with the name Vado as well. And when I was playing, you know, I got backlash and things like that because of people knowing who I was. So when I wanted to work for the Lasuni, I knew going into it that I had to create a new persona, a new person that as Elysse said, you know, that was the job. That was the, the work account that was, you know, that would be completely separate to who Vado was. And I accomplished it for a little bit and I think the cat got out of the bag. I don't even know how, but people ended up finding out what was me and I just, I can't keep a secret. I think, (chuckles)

Elysse:

I think the biggest downside to having those separate accounts though, is that people wanted to know the faces behind the usernames. They wanted to have that understanding because the process was clear that it was community members being recruited. And so by not revealing who you were, you kind of lost the trust of the community a little bit by having that secrecy. And it's interesting because it's a model being followed, which is similar to the model that Habbo used, except Habbo didn't recruit from the community. So they never had that issue of trying to keep that distinction between player versus staff member. Whereas because the Lasuni game was recruiting from the community, everybody knew everybody, it was a very small, tight knit game and you knew everyone in the community and then, Oh, suddenly there's a new member. Who's come out of the community. Who could it be? :And people would make a game out of it. They'd take the initiative to try and figure out who it was. I know within a week of becoming an events coordinator on the game, I had people messaging my personal player accounts, spreading rumors about the staff member, waiting to see if I'd like bite. Um, I had, uh, friends being like all what a tool like this new staff member is can't even share their identity and stuff like that because they had suspicions it was me, but didn't want to say it straight out, but they wanted to start to get me to say like defend the new staff member or sort of say it was me. And so that was a really hard thing to struggle with that disconnect between who I was as a person versus who I was as a staff member, I guess. *Song* One of the things I really remember about habbo.com.au to was the competitions, which weren't necessarily rebuilding, but like they were just "here, here's our theme, go for it and make something", be creative. It really encouraged the creative community who had skills outside of what the technicalities of Habbo would allow to blossom. I know they had a lot of video comps and a lot of art comps like poster comps, and you could incorporate Habbo screenshots or have a rooms into those are entries if you wanted to. But if you wanted to color outside of the lines, that was absolutely welcomed. Winter tea, who did the avatar that Josh used for a long time is actually one of the people who inspired me to become a graphic designer today. Like it is the first sort of contact I had with, "Oh, maybe I could do art as a thing" like outside of, you know, just for fun, because she is also an accomplished graphic designer as well. I'm no longer keeping contact with her, but I was following her for a long time.

Josh:

Yeah. And honestly, I wish I spoke a different language. I wish I could be a part of the international fansite community. I just think that they, one of the most passionate, creative, loyal, beautiful communities, any, any other fan site, community bods .com. I just think that they have always pushed limits and always are doing just beautiful things. And I just wish I could speak a different language! So I could be a part of those communities instead. I mean, take Fuusio, for example. Beautiful, beautiful! That's so many sites that I could mention that I've loved over the years. And I've really looked at and, you know, because I looked at communities all around the world when I was creating for HabboSecrets and I loved it. I loved the different passions that the communities had internationally.

Elysse:

My favorite international fan base for Habbo is the Brazilian community. Is that, am I allowed to say that? Am I going to cause any problem? (laughs) I just find that a lot of the Brazilian players that I meet, uh, are always so excited about the new things that are happening and that always willing to get on board with any changes that are made. Like they might get a bit upset for a little bit and they'll be like, well, you know what? We're still here. We're still strong. And we're going to like represent, we will come out and full! And I'm, I'm very lucky that I used to work for Lasuni because the Brazilian players was such a strong force there that I've been able to pick up little bits and pieces of Portuguese, not enough to speak it, but enough to recognize it in chat and pick up basicness of what they're trying to say. And then go to Google translate if I need to like fill in the gaps, but it's allowed me to create new friendships, which aren't necessarily just from English speaking backgrounds through Habbo as well, because I can pick up who is speaking Portuguese and I can be like, "Hey, you look like you need some help. You don't have any friends who can, you can speak to in this room and I'm going to help you out!". And I think that's a really sweet thing to be able to do as well. I must say it does, it does break my heart. When, um, you go into a room of English speakers predominantly and someone else is speaking a different language and they're like, "no, not in my room. This is not a space for your language". And that just makes me so sad that people aren't willing to welcome people from different backgrounds into their world.


*Song*


Inês:

So if you had the opportunity to chat with someone from Sulake, what would you ask or suggest?

Josh:

Innovation, innovation, innovation, innovation, where is the innovation? I just think that there's nothing of anything these days. I mean, it's all of the same it's room bundle after room bundle. They rely too much on fansites to create the content for them, which I think is great, but it's not nearly, I mean, they had millions of users at one point, what happened? There was a milestone where it just started decreasing. You know, why haven't they looked at that? Why haven't they tried to rebuild that user base? What are they doing wrong? And if anything, community, it's all about community community breaks or makes a game. I just wish that they would innovate again. Cause they used to innovate every week.

Elysse:

I guess for me, I look at some of the others games that are quite popular, um, that people use for socializing as well as playing, uh, games like Fortnite, for example. That's a really popular game in the space. I'd be looking at what we are lacking on Habbo compared to games like Fortnite. Why does Fortnite have the popularity, which is exceedingly exploding and Habbo is not. And then I'd try and bridge that gap because you've got the community down path. I think in terms of, there are people who want to come together and want to play the game. So how can you make it something which they will enjoy more and bring their friends into?

Josh:

I think a better comparison, Elysse would be Habbo versus Peak. When Peak RP opened, and I hate to sort of talk about retros and whatever, but there are things, so we might as well talk about it. I think that peak really changed the fundamental base of Habbo and what it means to play that game. They completely flipped it and they changed it into an RP that was, uh, innovative and interactive and was something new and different! And, it had levels of whatever that Habbo 2020 is doing. They do development on it every other week. You know, they bring something new to the table. Whereas Habbo just relies on the same old basis of fansite content, events, done.

Elysse:

I totally forgot about the role play community on Habbo. But yeah. Um, for those who don't know, um, Peak brings in a completely different role playing model compared to what you can do on Habbo because on Habbo it's all about typing to, "ah, picks up a cat and throws the cat at someone" like, obviously that's not happening. Whereas Peak combines that role playing element and actually does that in actions and stuff. Uh, so I think that's a really innovative thing that they've done. And I, if Habbo brought that in Habbo 2020, I think that would be brilliant for that game. Uh, and I think there is so much more potential there if you got in wired, which could allow for role playing and you could incorporate that with room building that would create a completely different experience for players. I think that role playing community, which we forgot to talk about earlier, would have a new platform to join. And I think you'd actually bring different people into that space as well. And I just think that would be really interesting.


*Song*

Inês:

So guys, now that we are wrapping up, do you have any final thoughts or anything to add?


Elysse:

I think games can be a gateway for real life, um, skills. I think that games are underestimated for the amount of things that you can get out of them, which could be used later in life. I think Habbo in particular, especially through fansites, really breeds creativity, and that shouldn't be undervalued. A lot of people assume that games are just a waste of time and uh, you know, what are you doing games for? But I think it's got social value, social value because you make friends and you have that community. And I think it's got practical value through a hobby. Like it breeds hobbies. So you join a fansite, you could learn how to write articles, you could do pixel art, you could do fan art, you could do deejaying, which gives you a recording skills, potentially even music skills. It gives you project management if you get higher up enough. I think that games and themselves are really valuable for learning new things and the community in Habbo brings out creativity, which can be translated into real world. Um, currency, I guess.

Josh:

I've developed many skills thanks to Habbo like graphic design, video editing, HTML, PHP, public speaking, confidence even, you know, which has taken me to new cities in Australia and brilliant opportunities in real life or because, you know, I sat around on Habbo for years and I saw, I completely agree with Elysse is saying, and that's why I had to take a break in 2018 because I got to use all of those skills that I had learned over the years through Habbo. Yeah. Accumulated through Habur I got to put them to real use and earn real money. And I think that games like that are important just for character building as well.


*Songs*

Inês:

Before we end, do you have any projects that you are currently working on or any upcoming releases...?

Josh:

Oh my goodness. Pixel is the title. It's a collection of songs I've worked on for the past two years and I heard that people like it. I mean, some people weren't, some people don't get it at all, but pixel is really diving into that sort of internet, community of pixels that we all know from our childhood. And it's a collection of songs that are essentially parodies. I did a song with Elysse! I really hope people like it. You know, I, I want to create things that people will enjoy and if people don't enjoy it, I don't mind, but I'm really excited to have another song where the ladies, honestly, it's just an honor, in my opinion, to have Elysse on any of my songs. I mean, I've had to delay it because just everything that's going on in the world, you know, it, wasn't the time for like, who is Vado? Why is you releasing anything right now? Like what, why do I have something to say when it's nothing in relation to what's going on in the world? So I wanted to wait and I feel like now is the time that, you know, we should party and we should celebrate and celebrate Habbo. Pixel is out everywhere on YouTube, just such Joshie sparkles.

Elysse:

Yeah. I can't say I've got anything particularly coming out, but I'm always looking at what the communities are doing and trying to think about that with everything I do. I've come from a background of research and games research. So it really interests me to continue to watch how the community is growing and what's happening with that. Other than that, I just sort of have some fun, meet new people, enjoy the games and watch what happens within!

Josh:

And she writes cool songs. She just wrote a song literally about online communities.

Elysse:

It's not specifically about online communities, it's called Connecting Online. And it's about how we have come together online because of the COVID-19 pandemic and how people are still able to have that connection online. I totally forgot about it to he honest (laughs).


Josh:

It's one of my favorite songs that was written on a ukulele and it's sort of beautiful, so catchy and quintessential Elysse. I love it! I'm jealous.

Elysse:

I'm working on figuring out a way to release that and maybe make a video about it with my beautiful rainbow ukulele.


Inês:

Josh and Elysse, we thank you a lot! We are here with, I'm not sure, seven to eight hours difference?

Josh:

I really appreciate you guys for putting this together and what you are doing and bringing communities together and fansites collaborating in a way that we've never seen before. I'm so excited! Because usually you see fansites that are divisive and they want all of the fame for themselves, but the international fansite they're coming together. And that's so exciting to me! It's just great to see an evolution.

Elysse:

It's been wonderful to be part of this discussion and it will be exciting to see how the community continues to grow and potentially change with Habbo 2020 coming up. And I look forward to potentially talking more about it in the future.


Niklas:

Yeah, thanks for coming on!


*Song*

Inês:

Thank you to our guests, our listeners, and we hope you have enjoyed the episode. You'll find all the links of what we've discussed during the show on the show notes. Bobbacast will casually be aired on every podcast streaming platform. So stay tuned with us! We'll be posting on Twitter at @bobbacast and launching the #bobbacast hashtag for conversation across social media. Additionally, you can also express your thoughts and opinions on the podcasts Fuusio's page. For any questions, doubts or suggestions, please feel free to tag us using @bobbacast or reach by email at contact@bobbacast.com


Niklas:

See you next time!


Inês:

See you!


Coming soon...

Pulx and Frission