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MUD (mud, M`U-D') noun
Acronym for Multi-User Dungeon. A virtual environment on the Internet in which multiple users simultaneously participate in a role-playing game and interact with each other in real time. Also called multi-user simulation environment.
MUD, acronym for Multi-User Dungeon, an elaborate type of role-playing computer game on the Internet. Participants in a MUD, which is modeled on the game Dungeons and Dragons, pretend to be in a situation or environment, such as a battle or newly discovered jungle; each MUD has its own rules and each participant plays a specific role or character in the scenario. As the use of MUDs has expanded into other contexts, including education, the acronym has evolved to Multi-User Dimensions and Multi-User Domains. People who participate in MUDs are called mudders.
In 1979, the same year that Vinge wrote "True Names,"
two students at Britain's University of Essex named Roy Trubshaw and Richard
Bartle built a network
gaming system taht allowed different people on different computers to occupy
the same database
at the same time.
They called their text-based world the Multi-User Dungeon, or MUD for short,
and it transported players logged into the university network into an Adventure-like
gamespace known simply as "the Land." As with Adventure, the computer
screen served as an evocative textual window onto a world full of spells,
treasures, and neomedieval combat. After reading the description
of your immediate
surroundings (and any objects you might pick up, buy, or steal), you would
type the direction you wanted to go,
and the screen text would change, providing you a description of your new
location. But you would also encounter some rather spunky dwarves
and warriors as well, characters animated by real
human beings hunched over keyboards somewhere on the Essex network.
When two characters crossed paths, they read each other's descriptions,
after which they might strike up a keyboard-clattering chat or start swining
battleaxes over loot. And thus it was the Trubshaw and Bartle brought
roleplaying games online, giving birth to the cyberspace doppelganger
eventually known as the avatar: digital
doubles that embody the user's point of view and that also represent him
or her to the other denizens of the digital environs.
- Erik Davis - _Techgnosis: Myth, Magic & Mysticism In The Age Of Information_ p. 219
For many VR wireheads and interactive game hackers, the only appeal of text-based MUDs is how little bandwidth they require. Compared to the future's glittering, sensually enveloping theme-parks, today's text-based MUDs seem like raggedy-assed gypsy camps in the arid outback of simulation.
But MUDs take on a more fantastic light when they're seen, not as baby steps on the golden road of total immersive VR, but as the apotheosis of writing. Most computer-literate high-brows have pegged hypertext—the permutation of narrative as nonlinear webs of linked textual objects that can be read in countless paths—as the likely site for the emergence of computer "literature". But MUDs create nonlinear texts in many ways more marvelous than the precious literary experiments beloved by Robert Coover.
MUDs make text interactive, spontaneous, and collaborative; writers cobble together a collective hallucination (the rooms, object and characters), breed narratives of love and war, and jam like improv poets with their chat. Spaces proliferate like a Shangri La dreamt by the nomad philosopher Gilles Deleuze: Borgesian libraries, nests of Chinese boxes, orchards exfoliating from the patterns in Persian carpets. By materializing the postmodern truism that everything is a text, MUDs not only practice theory, but paradoxically reboot a very old paradigm: that the world around you is a book, a plenitude of living signs.
Besides providing ideal fantastic maps, SF and fantasy work in MUDspace because the magic and future science of these genres bend the same rules of reality that MUD code does. In MUDs, you can communicate telepathically, shape-shift, teleport, create little machine selves, and conjure birds and pleasure domes out of thin air. As Vernor Vinge recognized in the novella _True Names_, which placed his (pre-_Neuromancer_ ) vision of cyberspace in a world of D&D medievalism, magical imagery functions as paradoxically pragmatic metaphors for the odd laws that rule the digital astral planes of VR.
Even the binding spells wielded by 13-year-old necromancers in combat MUDs express of that virtual fact that changing language changes the world, for the world itself is made of language. And both poets and programmers have the power.
- Erik Davis - _It's A Mud,
Mud, Mud, Mud World_