While for smartworking the signal of retreat is sounding stronger and stronger and the school year opens with the aim of “avoiding the DAD nightmare”, as if the problem of everything was digital and not how we used it, it was inevitable that Houseparty closed its doors.
Perhaps no app is related to the very first days of the pandemic like Houseparty. I think of the days of the hardest lockdown, of the lines in front of supermarkets with out of flour because we were all making cakes and pizzas, of the search for a dog to justify a quick walk, and of the endless time spent at home with close relatives, only them, always them, waiting for the 6pm bulletin of the Civil Protection. Here at that juncture Houseparty had a sudden success, an app that had existed for a few years and that in 2019 had been bought by Epic Games, the company that produced Fortnite (and that took Apple to court, winning a few days ago). Houseparty made it possible to make video calls in eight, small parties, when the video platforms of Google and Microsoft, and Zoom, were still considered something to be used only for business, for work. Houseparty was for fun. At the time as a family we had got into the habit of seeing everyone once a week, to keep us company and in some cases to encourage us. I remember my father’s phrase, “See you on Houseparty today?”, Made me realize in a blatant way that the pandemic was, unintentionally, the largest digital skills accelerator we could imagine. Then luckily life went on, the lockdown is over and above all Meet, Teams and Zoom have become a tool suitable for all occasions, even parties if you want. And Houseparty went out. Until last week’s announcement: it is already out of the “stores” and will cease to exist from October but “we are working to develop new authentic and meaningful tools for social interactions”. It also takes courage to say enough.
We will not miss Houseparty, but we will not forget that in those days, in some cases, it helped us to feel less alone.