Your Internet Consultant - The FAQs of Life Online

10.29. So MUDs are just fancy games, right?

That depends on who you ask. One "wizard" I know vehemently proclaims that his MUD is a "social experiment in a text-based virtual reality." Maybe, but to most of his users, it's a game.

Each MUD has a theme. Connect to any given MUD, and you might find yourself on a drifting space station, in medieval England, in a sprawling Northern California mansion, or in any other of a million scenarios.

Because many MUDs differ in theme, scope, and goals, each one attracts different sorts of users. Some MUDs allow users to cast spells, chase dragons, and frolic in a virtual wilderness with electronic gnomes. I think it would be safe to call this type of MUD a game. Then again, some MUDs are used mainly for programming, conversation, and information exchange between professionals. Obviously, these aren't being used for gaming.

Note: Some Multi-User Dungeons contain more traditional games within the game. For instance, if you wander into the Dining Room on LambdaMOO, you'll find a huge pile of games, including Mastermind Board, poker, Connect Four, "MOOnopoly," Twister, Go, and chess. Granted, playing Twister with people ten thousand miles away using a computer that doesn't even have graphics may not have been an obvious choice; you can try it if it suits you. LambdaMOO is available by Telnetting to 8888.

Many MUDs let users do what they will; if you're in the mood to be dragon bait, fine; if you would rather converse with users on the other side of the globe, that's fine too.

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