Once upon a time in the magical land of the 1980s, a group of super-smart people had a brilliant idea. They wanted to create a fantastic, colorful world where friends could meet and play together, even if they were far away from each other. So, Randy Farmer, Chip Morningstar, Aric Wilmunder, and Janet Hunter put their heads together and invented Habitat, the first-ever video game that let lots and lots of people play together online!
Habitat ran from 1986 to 1988, but sadly, it was closed down at the end of the pilot run. Keeping Habitat going was like trying to feed a very, very hungry dragon, and it just cost too many shiny gold coins to keep the adventure going. But the clever creators at Lucasfilm Games didn’t give up! They waved their magic wands and *poof!* created a smaller, more affordable version called Club Caribe on Quantum Link, the Commodore 64-based precursor to America Online, in 1988.
Originally beta-tested under the name Habitat, Club Caribe was a graphical, avatar-based virtual world that looked a bit like Lucas’ SCUMM-based adventure games. But Club Caribe was much bigger and more exciting, allowing players to roam around an entire island, collecting tokens and directly interacting with other players. Recently, Frank Cifaldi of the Video Game History Foundation found a copy of Club Caribe during a trip to Las Vegas:
You can even watch a Club Caribe documentary featuring footage from players before the closure on YouTube here:
In Habitat and Club Caribe, each player turned into a funny-looking character called an avatar. These avatars could chat, laugh, and play together, all while exploring the zany world. But, oh no! There were no rules in Habitat at first. That meant some avatars could be naughty, stealing things or causing chaos. So, the creators and the players who loved the game worked together to come up with rules and laws to make Habitat and Club Caribe fun and fair places for everyone.
Habitat and Club Caribe inspired lots of other video games where friends could play together online. Today, many video games let friends play together, explore, and have fun, all thanks to the amazing world of Habitat, Club Caribe, and the super-smart people who made them possible.
So, the next time you play a game with friends online, remember to thank Randy, Chip, Aric, and Janet for their marvelous idea that changed the world of gaming forever. And, most importantly, always remember to have fun and play nice, just like the good citizens of Habitat and Club Caribe!