Filed in Science

Life in the MUD

Mitchell Kapor

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Imagine a world in which the inhabitants create their own physical environments and characters by writing them into existence. In this world, it is possible to converse, exchange gestures, express emotions, and even have sex. Such are the virtual worlds of MUDs (Multi-User Domains)—popular computer-based multi-player simulations which have evolved from the fantasy role-playing game “Dungeons and Dragons.”

In “Dungeons and Dragons,” players assume the roles based on characters described in the game’s manual. They have the appearance and abilities defined therein, and game play takes place on a game board that is like a map of the imagined territory of the game. In a MUD, all the action is mediated by a computer. Users invent their own characters as well as create their own physical environment through a combination of textual description, dialogue (like computer chat rooms), and simple programming.

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