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Multi-User Domains

This nOde last updated September 23rd, 2001 and is permanently morphing...
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MUD (mud, M`U-D') noun
Acronym for Multi-User Dungeon. A internal linkvirtual environment on the internal linkInternet in which multiple users simultaneously participate in a role-playing game and interact with each other in real internal linktime. 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 internal linkDungeons 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 internal linkevolved to Multi-User internal linkDimensions and Multi-User Domains. People who participate in MUDs are called mudders.

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Techgnosis: Myth, Magic & Mysticism In The Age Of Information by Erik Davis

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 internal linknetwork gaming system taht allowed different people on different computers to occupy the same internal linkdatabase at the same internal linktime.  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 internal linkimmediate surroundings (and any objects you might pick up, buy, or steal), you would type the direction you wanted to internal linkgo, 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 internal linkreal 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 internal linkdoppelganger eventually known as the internal linkavatarinternal linkdigital 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, internal linkMagic & Mysticism In The Age Of internal linkInformation_   atomjacked inventory cache  p. 219

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For many VR wireheads and interactive game internal linkhackers, 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 internal linkgypsy camps in the arid outback of simulation.

But MUDs take on a more fantastic internal linklight 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 internal linkhypertext—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 internal linkShangri La    internal linkdreamt by the nomad philosopher Gilles Deleuze: internal linkBorgesian   internal linklibraries, 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.
Jorge Luis Borges

Besides providing ideal fantastic maps, internal linkSF and fantasy work in MUDspace because the magic and future science of these genres bend the same rules of internal linkreality that MUD code does. In MUDs, you can communicate telepathically, internal linkshape-shiftinternal linkteleport, create little machine selves, and conjure birds and pleasure domes out of thin air. As Vernor Vinge recognized in the novella internal link_True Names_, which placed his (pre-internal link_Neuromancer_   atomjacked inventory cache) vision of cyberspace in a world of internal linkD&D medievalism, magical imagery functions as paradoxically pragmatic metaphors for the odd laws that rule the internal linkdigital   internal linkastral planes of VR.
True Names by Vernor Vinge

Even the binding spells wielded by 13-year-old necromancers in combat MUDs express of that virtual fact that changing internal linklanguage 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_

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