Emote to the Max - A comprehensive Approach to the Construction of Identity in text-based Virtualities

Seminar Paper, 1999

37 Pages, Grade: 1,3 (A)

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Table of Contents

I. Connect(explanation)
I.1. The Lag: Introduction, Methodology and Limits
I.2. Echo On: What is a MUD?

II. Intermediate(further explanation)
II.1. Of Mortals, Wizards and Gods: Power Structures and Mainframes
II.2. Phantasmal Terrain: Interface to Otherworlds

III. Properties(analysis)
III.1. Invention of the Self: Anonymity and Identity
III.2. Valid human Distances: Gender Swapping
III.3. CMC: Vocabulary and Notes on Communication
III.4. Extremes One: Body Marketplace vs. TinySEX
III.5. Entrapments: From Adrenaline-Hype to Addiction
III.6. Extremes Two: Deviations and Regulative Mechanisms

IV. Log Out(conclusion)
IV.1. In the Flesh: RL Repercussions
IV.2. Evaluation: Short-lived Exchange Realities or Prospective Grail Castles?

V. Bibliography & Sources

VI. Appendix
VI.1. Listed MUD-sites: Connect via telnet
VI.2. List of Abbreviations


My first thanks go to Reinhard Isensee for his inspiration, encouragement, patience and support. Secondly, I would like to thank Cornelia Taute (Filou) from Wunderland. She has become a dear friend by now, has helped me get connected to important people (the "gods") and has inspired me greatly. One of the gods is Roger Harazim (MUD2), who gave me invaluable insights and bothered to talk to a mortal worm like me. The other god (or ArchWiz) is Mark Daniel Reidel (Karm of Nightfall), whom I met while floundering newbie-style; he showed me around in his realms and patiently answered all my questions. Furthermore I thank Elizabeth Reid Steere in America for guiding me to her writings and finding time for correspondence while being busy with her baby son. A grateful word of thanks goes to the staff of the English and American Studies computer lab for letting me print tons of sources and giving me the time I needed. I am also grateful to Julia Schneider and Marco Oschlies for critique and suggestions concerning brevity and scientific consistency. Another helping hand was Oliver Mechcatie from NY who proofread the paper and improved my style. Important loving support was given me by Antje Schröder who raised me from the net-dead. Next I should like to thank all those players, wizards and gods in the MUDs I have visited for being so communicative (particularly Sargent of ifMUD). Finally to those people who encouraged me to go on by declaring their interest to read my paper, thanks again.


The beginning is a very delicate time. [1]

Dune: Prologue

I. 1. The Lag: Introduction, Methodology and Limits

This paper will deal with the nature of MUDs. They are commonly referred to as Multi-User Dungeons. They are text-based virtual realities (VRs) and accessible via telnet or Java on the Internet. A complete explanation follows in the next chapter.

While attending the course "Spaces of Identity: Electronic Media and Identity Formations in the second Media Age" at Humboldt-University I came across the term MUD and decided to study this phenomenon. I had already participated in a course by the same teacher, Reinhard Isensee, and could rely on my experience with chatlines and IRC[2] (Internet Relay Chat). While these spaces are geared towards the basic human need to communicate, MUDs add a textual fantasy or sci-fi themed environment and a game-situation alternative to mere chatlines, thus creating whole new worlds. Following in the footsteps of earlier scientists, I was drawn into these realms in a similar way, but I found none of my academic predecessors in there. Many texts on MUDs have been written from a perspective of emotional involvement. To some extent I will join in the tone of those authors hopefully without losing my cultural studies perspective.

My main access to computers and the Internet might still be called underdeveloped, because I have to rely on university PC-Pools with prehistoric machines and restricted opening times. This is due to the "technological backwardness" of Germany, which neither allows night-use of educational resources nor makes Internet cheaply available for owners of home-computers. While American schools have been equipped with computers in the late 1980s, German educators were not so fast to integrate hi-tech into the curriculum. It might be noted that wealthy or affluent individuals can already afford hi-tech speedy connections and powerful (Pentium III) machines at home. The computer oriented magazines spill over with futuristic articles about the "new" media and their possibilities. When studying the literature and research on MUDs one might get the impression that everyone seems to be connected in America. Well, not exactly everyone. I will return to that issue in the end.

This short chapter is called The Lag, because one can use the poor data transmission rate on our computers and telephone lines as a metaphor to illustrate the backwardness. Speed is the main problem, but German MUDs lack certain other qualities. The lag appears when too many users log on to a site at the same time so that the server cannot handle them simultaneously. This causes interruptions of the stream of consciousness in a communication or adventure setting, which draws the participant back into his or her physical reality of literally sitting in front of a monitor. Another lag is created by the fact that my academic main sources may seem a little dated. Almost none of them originate after 1995, so a 4 years back draft is to be reckoned with when comparing the latest scientific articles with it. On the other hand I have discovered that MUDs have not changed much since the last great analyses have been written. Recent texts must still be bought, so one has to wait for them to be outdated before they appear on Internet pages.

The basic sources I will refer to are: Elizabeth Reid Steere's 1994 Master's Thesis on "Cultural Formations in Text-Based Virtual Realities"; Dr. Richard Bartle's 1990 MUD-Report "Interactive Multi-User Games"; the online version of Howard Rheingold's 1993 book "The Virtual Community – Homesteading on the Electronic Frontier" and Pavel Curtis' article on "Mudding: Social Phenomena in Text-Based Virtual Realities." Further names of interest are Amy Bruckman, Julian Dibbel, Neil Postman, Eva-Lise Carlstrom, Jill Serpentelli, Sherry Turkle and Mark Poster. More names may turn up when filtering through the results of "MUD"-queries on search-machines such as Yahoo, Alta-Vista and MetaCrawler. The tens of thousands of MUD hits discouraged me. Nevertheless I am grateful to the creators of sites that list scholarly writing like Godlike and Nolan.

The objective of this cultural study centers around the formation of alternate identities in MUDs. I will examine genderbending[3], linguistic expressivity, power-structures, the game nature, socializing components and real-life (RL) repercussions.

A study as this must necessarily aim at people who are relatively unaccustomed to the issue but have at least used computers and the Internet in the past. The other group of readers will be insiders. Therefore I attempt to create a middle-path. After a guided tour for the inexperienced ("newbies" in MUD slang) as initial approach I will analyze occurrences and characteristic behavior.

My leading question in the end should be answered by revealing how identities are constructed in textual virtualities and what such a construction implies.

I. 2. Echo On: What is a MUD?

Most of the following descriptions center around both technological and social aspects.

A MUD (Multi-User Dungeon or, sometimes, Multi-User Dimension) is a network-accessible, multi-participant, user-extensible virtual reality whose user interface is entirely textual. Participants (usually called players) have the appearance of being situated in an artificially-constructed place that also contains those other players who are connected at the same time. Players can communicate easily with each other in real time.[4]

This reality as such is virtual not by imitating hi-tech[5] visual forms and auditory data, it rather "is primarily an imaginative rather than a sensory experience."[6] Such a space may also be referred to as part of the "cyberspace", a term coined by William Gibson in his novel "Neuromancer."[7] A whole literary genre of cyber-punk pulp fiction appeared like minions after Gibson's novel. That genre consisted of a science-fiction and fantasy mixture combined with horror elements in a bleak future setting of almighty corporations, desperate techno-criminals, social outcasts, and ancient magic. It hailed the "Matrix"[8] (directly accessible via cerebral interfaces) as superior to anything that can be currently achieved with the Internet. The new motion picture "The Matrix" with Keanu Reeves and Laurence Fishburne depicts the bleakest future where our whole reality turns out to be a simulation created by machines that have enslaved humanity for reasons of energy supply. Only a handful of "cyberpirates" has seen the truth. Although MUDs incorporate simulations they do not exert a control as complete as the machinations in this movie.

MUDs are not fantasy; they are accessible and thus exist. Yet they also consist of imaginative rooms and dungeons. MUDs are pieces of software on remote servers. They encourage "role-play."[9] Players slip into the bodies of fantastic creatures like elves, dwarves, giants and vampires. They choose their forms in these worlds and sometimes describe themselves on "social MUDs,"[10] such as LambdaMOO[11]. MUDs are both entertainment and simulation[12]. There must currently be hundreds of MUDs which may be categorized as either of the "adventure type LPMUDs"[13] (some famous ones like MUD2 charge their players fees in addition to telephone bills), or the "social type" (often experimental object- and room-building sites where most creation is left to the players and no treasure-gaining quests may be fought over).

Fantasy role-playing games (RPGs) like Advanced Dungeons & Dragons ™ or Das Schwarze Auge (DSA) and other tolkinesque[14] clones were the original inspiration for the MUD pioneers (Roy Trubshaw and Richard Bartle in the late 70ies at Essex, UK). Together with the first single-user computer games appeared the first MUDs. Initially a purely academic frolic for hackers, they grew into an addictive spare-time activity for a broader mass with modems in the mid-80ies and are still played by many enthusiasts.

This appeal to the masses and the fantasy foundations are the main reasons for their growing popularity. Although other suggestions for science-fiction based MUDs have appeared (TrekMUSE)[15], the majority of MUDs remain fantasy oriented. One might speculate that there must be some psychological or social element in the people who participate that draws them towards magical realms and dragon-hunts. Clearly stated, nothing but "fun"[16] can be made from collecting gold and destroying virtual monsters. The social bonds of friendship with remote users seem to be sufficient to let people sit hours and hours in front of their computer-screens.

With the words of Lewis Carroll and Sherry Turkle: "We are able to step through the looking glass."[17] In such a prose-space "magic is real and identity is a fluid."[18] Humans may gain the ability to step away from their ordinary lives and invent themselves anew while engaging in a kind of cultural interplay.

Most of the annotated authors concentrate on a few MUDs and present their favorite ones to their readers. On first seeking out German MUDs I randomly chose Wunderland [19] and spend most of my MUD-time there in order to see how one can advance and socialize. It is modeled after the books of Alexander Wolkow[20], who wrote the series of fantastic "Wizard of Oz"–clones in the former Soviet Union and gained major attention and fame across the socialist countries as the former GDR (now united Germany). Except for the fictitious environment which differs from MUD to MUD, most of them have similar structures, commands and objectives.

After connecting via telnet to the local server one usually arrives in a kind of "anteroom"[21] and chooses one's name (nickname), outward appearance, race and gender plus "stats" that include qualities such as dexterity, cleverness, strength, endurance and magical powers—all of which can be increased during play, a main goal in fact of the game. Most MUDs offer extensive help-files for the "newbie", where basic commands, functions of the program and rules are explained. A unique feature for new players has been invented in Nightfall where one is welcomed by a first companion and given leaflets with information. Upon looking at her one receives the following message:

Failure is a cute female imp. She friendly smiles at you. You can ask her all kinds of questions about this world. Use 'ask Failure about <topic>', e.g. 'ask Failure about nightfall'. She will accompany you for a while in this Mud and she will leave you when you have reached level 4 or if you 'tell Failure to leave' you.

She is perfectly healthy.[22]

The program will react interactively, with the user sending commands and the program executing them if typed correctly, as is the case with every other program. However, it won't copy itself to the user's computer, a fact known to all people who are accustomed to the Internet. The telnet path is the only thin thread of connection; without it, playing is impossible. When entering Wunderland, one is located in a non-definite space until one has created one's character for this world. Every time you log in afterwards, you'll find yourself either where you left or in the "Ragged Camper" (the entrance hall, so to speak). You may proceed from there to explore the world. Quests are errands one has to fulfill before one can increase the stats and eventually become more powerful. Until you have risen in the hierarchy you will be likely to have lost all your clothes and weapons after a "reset" or on returning after a longer period of inactivity.

The concept of the 'reset' is central to many MUAs. With several people in the game, puzzles will rapidly be solved and objects swiftly removed from play. After a time, there is nothing left to do. At this point, the game resets, ie. it starts afresh, with only players' personae remaining as they were previously. Doors that were opened are closed, dead mobiles are resurrected, and objects are arranged in their original places. In some games, players can continue to play earlier sessions until they quit, and in others everyone is ejected. With 'rolling resets', objects are replaced individually without disrupting the flow of the game. Although this is less harsh on the players, it can make planning your future actions difficult, and the game is usually lacking in complex puzzles as these can be hard to invert. Games that don't have any sort of reset either exist around the concept of performing quests of some kind, are primarily for building your own worlds, or are incredibly boring to play.[23]

But the equivalent of those personal articles in the Wunderland currency (gems) won't be lost. You simply go to a shop and buy them back, if nobody else has already bought them. Another reason for resets is to keep the players busy.

How does one move through the MUD? Navigation in MUDs is possible by passing through exits. To do so, one has to enter a directional abbreviation like [e] for east to arrive in the room to the east. Rooms can be everything from a wood-path to majestic castle halls or dimly lit dungeons. Advanced players have abilities to teleport. Every room description gives more or less obvious hints as to where exits might be. Trying to enter small objects is mostly senseless. Objects (small pieces of text programs that might react to certain input) can be examined, taken, used as clothing or weapons or traded in for others. Advanced objects like mobiles and bots (from ro bots) are mini-programs that move and talk as if steered by humans, they can simulate everything from helpful pet-dinosaurs to ravenous monsters. Artificial worlds contain lots of bots, but it is fairly easy to distinguish them from "real" player characters most of the time. Newbies with no armor and weapons are likely to be slain by bots and other players, depending on how brutal those MUDs are. That's why one must ask other players for help, which is mostly given to a great extent. Most German MUDs have banned "playerkilling."[24]

Communication occurs on several levels. The "say" command ['] will let the character speak to others in the same room. "Whisper" messages will only be visible to the person you specify. The "page" command addresses other players in the MUD, no matter where they are, so it is a kind of walkie-talkie. In Wunderland there are also "channels". These represent IRC remnants. On entering a conversational channel one can chat easily with others on the same channel, just like in IRC. Finally, one also has the possibility to publish articles in the MUD newspaper or to e-mail absent friends from inside the MUD via the Post Office. It might be interesting to observe to which extent players drop their adopted characters and reveal their own identities to chat as themselves, a phenomenon that varies greatly between different MUDs.

One of the most fascinating options a player has is to "emote" or to "pose" [:]. This command enables you to become an actor on the virtual "stage"[25] and has your character do whatever you like. It works as follows: You type ":" and add a sentence like "hovers drowsily in the middle of the room." All players in this room will see your name and the sentence attached to it. Everything imaginable becomes virtually possible. You speak of yourself in the third person. Unfortunately, some MUDs restrict this command to advanced players only, so one has to complete a quest before emoting is allowed.[26] Except for behavioral codes the limit is ones imagination, thus giving players various opportunities to act in a way RL would never satisfy. Some object-oriented MUDs (called MOOs) of the social type enable players to build objects and rooms with the "@dig" command, an ability reserved for wizards in adventure settings for reasons intelligible when examining badly written and coded rooms and objects "which contain masses of errors (parser, spelling, time-lines, etc)."[27]

Having equipped you with the basic vocabulary and technical background this study will now proceed to the intermediate stage, where social hierarchies and imagined worlds will be examined.

II. Intermediate (further explanation)

Far over the misty mountains cold

To dungeons deep and caverns old

We must away ere break of day,

To seek the pale enchanted gold. [28]

Dwarven song

II. 1. Of Mortals, Wizards and Gods: Power Structures and Mainframes

In order not to turn into anarchic chaos most MUDs have clearly shaped hierarchies ranging from players to wizards to gods (or arch-wizards). The majority of people in a MUD consists of players. Wizards monitor, manipulate and sometimes censor, and gods have created the worlds wherein the other castes dwell. Why is such a hierarchy necessary? "Power on a MUD is quite literally the power to change the world."[29] Climbing up the ladder of influence includes new privileges and responsibilities.

To begin with one should have a closer look at players, since this level is the first step for every newbie to explore the world. Although seemingly helpless at first and at the mercy of advanced creatures, "new players are the lifeblood of MUAs, as they are needed to replenish the older players who stopped playing for personal or financial reasons."[30] (Note that the term "older" in this quote refers to both RL age and in-game age which is usually measured in days according to the total time a player has been logged in.) Players are both mortal and unknown at first. They are likely to meet other players who help them to solve quests by gaining equipment, treasure and, ultimately, experience. One disturbing property of Wunderland is that you are naked in the beginning as if born anew. You won't recognize this yourself. But when you talk to other "nudists" you will sooner or later read random messages like these: "She seems to be coming from the beach" or "You almost can't turn your eyes away from his nakedness." In such a case one would turn deeply red in reality, so the MUD incorporates appropriate standard verb commands for various actions and emotions. One might try to type "blush" or "faint" and observe the output on the screen. It would look like this: ">Glamorf blushes."

Players have no access to the "raw data"[31] of the program, they entirely interact with it from within. Even in the social-type MUDs creating and destroying (called "recycling") objects and rooms has been limited to those objects the individual player possesses. Germany's backwardness in such matters becomes clearer when considering the fact that social MUDs are extremely rare or nonexistent according to the technological lag.

While solving quests adventurers gain more "xps" (experience points), so they may start weaving magic into their actions, such as casting fireball-spells upon monsters they would have otherwise slain conventionally with a sword. Belonging to a guild adds to the social surrounding and creates shelter and temples to return to for healing and trading. In some MUDs players have to eat and drink regularly in order not to die of starvation. Advanced players know how to teleport or where to find additional magic potions.

Quests have another logical function: They accustom the players with the realms in their MUD. Each new quest directs players into another part and offers greater powers or wealth. It depends on the exploring-intensity and quick wit of each player as to how fast the quests are completed. By that time the MUD will have become a "dear place" or new home with its diverse areas and gatherings. Devoted heroes become addicted and advance unbelievably fast.

The MUD becomes limited when there is nothing more to be done as is the case with every RPG. You can either leave the MUD for good or enrich it by molding the game to your own personality. Promoted to wizard status by other wizards you wield new powers of a "system-administrator or superuser."[32] Having reached wiz status means "mastery"[33] of the game; parallel to the notion of "the needs for control, safety, and perfection"[34] for hackers. One may walk invisibly and "snoop"[35] on other players (that is: spying them out while remaining where you are as a means of monitoring). Stepping inside their body and taking possession of them and their utterances is also possible. Even more important is the creation of new objects and quests or commands, since wizards have access to the "raw data". Furthermore one is enabled to attach various messages to a player's description or to display arbitrary texts in their vicinity. Most wizards shroud themselves in a kind of impenetrable cloak or morph into other creatures. They reside in abodes hidden away from mortal eyes and summon players into their study if they are addressed and are willing to help. The levels of influence a wizard might have vary among MUDs. Some contain "snoop-proof" private areas where players engage freely in intimate talk. Wiz powers are seldom abused or at least the literature refers to only a few known cases. Wizards behave responsible or else scare players. But a frightening away of players—"the lifeblood of MUDs"—is not desired by their gods. An issue thoroughly dealt with in the sources I have read is the power for ultimate punishment of deviant players by means of removing their character from the game. MUD slang offers several words for this ability: FODing (Finger Of Death), toading (turning someone into a warty toad and removing all commands from their inventory) or blotting. But even here a normal player is relatively safe:

In MUD2 the wizzes sort of act as police - to control and watch over the players. They guide, set quests, have fun, punish and chat ... the ArchWizards on the other hand police the wizards, so they don’t do anything naughty.[36]

Publicly disgraced players will show appropriate remorse in most cases, so toading them won't be necessary. Of course ex-toads might create a new persona in the same MUD and start afresh, but because experience is not gained overnight, the time invested so far will be lost. Furthermore, they will be identified in due time.

Before any of the aforementioned actions can be pursued there must be invented a world and peopled to interact in. "Gods", experienced programmers who might have been mortals once, have to "@create light"[37] as Elizabeth Reid Steere puts it, they hard-code their imagination into penetrable realms. Rheingold summarizes the MUD hierarchy:

The wizzes are only the junior grade of the MUD illuminati. The people who attain the senior grade of MUD freemasonry by starting their own MUD, with all due hubris, are known as gods. Wizzes make life interesting for players, and gods are the ultimate arbiters.[38]

They are the overbrain of the MUD, know almost everything and have absolute control over "their" program and its inhabitants. Unlike most gods from conventional religions they might reply if asked. Of course they are only humans, but perhaps this symbolizes the secret of their success. Now and then players will read messages from gods in a newspaper or channel. A subtype or just another name for god is "arch-wizard." I have had the pleasure of talking to some. Most of them try to negate Rheingold unconsciously by not showing off in "hubris" (compared to the quotation above). They attempt to appear as regular fellas, just the kind of boys or men they were before immortality.

>Dave: I was really surprised to hear you were one of the first MUD Gods. This fact

>instantaneously produced some kind of respect and awe in me, since I have never spoken

>to Gods, only to wizards. And I am not even religious.

Roger: BLUSH ... hey - I am just an average guy who had (has) a particular interest. I am nothing special (inside MUD or outside).[39]

Folk lore claims that some gods are untouchable and vainglorious. They radiate majesty and demand respect among their subjects. Rare toadings and friendly welcomes in most MUDs speak another language. Some newbies have inspired gods for program improvement and people of different MUD-castes become friends. Where else could one "vote"[40] for a god?

MUDs like Nightfall have also a fragmentary creation story, adapted from the book of Genesis in The Holy Bible, American Indian Creation stories, and similar cultural foundations. In this case Allfather[41] created the world, tried several times to make people, but was deceived and circumvented by his earlier creations, who had turned into powerful agents of evil. So trolls, dwarves and darkelves came into being before the immortal elves, which henceforth worshipped Allfather. Dark gods still stuggle for dominance in Nightfall.[42] [43]

II. 2. Phantasmal Terrain: Interface to Otherworlds

This chapter focuses on the fantastic surroundings and "sprawling landscapes"[44] that render MUDs so attractive for players. Some sample rooms and bots have been copied to get a first vivid impression of how intensively the human imagination wishes to escape from the ordinary—as the author of this study speculates—through recalling common clichés and producing unique spaces and opportunities of identity-formation. How dante-esque[45] is the following?

This is the Pit of Hell. This is the place where demons come to regain their material forms. Ghosts of demons come here to CURSE and gain a body to wreak havoc. You sense a strong evil here. This is the focal point of all of the evil of Nightfall. The flames of hell are all around you. There appears to be a small gap in the flames to your left side. Hanging on the side of this pit is a portrait of Winfield, Lord of Hell. There seems to lead a staircase down. There's a small sign floating in the air. PLEASE READ IT!

There is one exit: up.[46]

A couple of commonly occurring themes can be found here. For a reverse-world-MUD hell is important, perhaps even more important than the imaginary space of the Christian hell. While the ghosts of deceased players of Wunderland have to "pray" in a church to regain a body, demons of Nightfall"curse" instead. According to Karm most of that "evil" has been written purely for atmospheric reasons. In fact "atmosphere" is important in evaluating a MUD's quality for Bartle.[47] This pit offers some additional exits to be examined. The sign reads:

Please visit the administration tent of hell. You can find it if you move up three times and then "enter tent".

-- Rover, Vice Lord of Hell.

Adventurers must have a strong sense of curiosity and are expected to examine every detail cautiously. External MUD-observers might begin to ask where this obsession with the dark, with dungeons and labyrinthine room-knots originates. One possible answer could be located in a kind of universal mysterious subconscious the players share. In order to be "different" they flee into mystic worlds. Greek mythology provides a rich specter of such scenarios, for instance the archetypal labyrinth for the Minotaur[48], the offspring of supernatural (Cretan Bull) and human (Pasiphae) parents. It had to remain in the dark as scapegoat-monster and was eventually slain by Theseus[49], the symbolical super-human. Implicit patriarchal structures have to be examined there. Pictures of the Minotaur were later utilized to symbolize unreleased human compulsive nature.[50] Do MUD players fight against themselves when slaying monsters? They will rather adhere to their ability to control and seek mastery.

MUD gods create both worlds and quests and plant dangers where they please to satisfy each players "hunger" for adventure and for the extraordinary.

Traps and pits of no return where some fierce creatures lurk might function as an adrenaline stimulus if correctly dosed, provided that the player accepts his persona as "second self"—having fused with it on a level of identification—and "feels" compassionately about it by the time death threatens his virtual existence.

Losing your persona in a game is absolutely terrible. It's the worst thing that can happen to you and people really get put up about it. They usually say they're gutted. "Gutted" is the word players use because it's about the only one that describes about how awful it is. It's not as if "Oh dear, I've lost my persona" in the same way you may say "I've lost my shoe." It's not even "Oh dear, I've lost my persona" in the same way as "I've lost my pet hamster." It's more as "Oh dear, I've just died. That's me they've just killed!" It's not "Oh, I've lost all that work and all that time and effort." It's "I've just died, this is terrible! Oh my God, I'm dead ! Empty!"[51]

Former regular fellas become obsessed with their own creation. The machine-system of control works backwards in such a way as that the computer is allowed to take over to some extent and influences peoples emotions through its universality. (Note that Neil Postman complains about the growing use of the "Man-Machine" metaphor[52] when observing the deprivation of the right of decision through technopoly in today's society.) Is this desirable? There appears to be a major difference between losing a card game or monopoly and losing one's "life" in a textual virtuality. Even if death is not irrevocable, as should be the case with most good computer games, the social and emotional involvement of some players reaches higher levels than, let's say, dying in a jump-'n-run or shoot-'em-up game (which, in turn, will also be terrible for other player types, although it only affects the individual, not a group). Contemporary developers of home entertainment push towards multiple events and experience in a condensed game-form[53], a method that seems to have been devised decades ago with the invention of MUDs. But while offering far greater graphical stimuli than MUDs, these games still lack the interactivity with remote real players, a feature that can be demonstrated in various ways. For instance: Players may describe themselves in their original language. Some examples for 'mysterious but unmistakably powerful' figures[54] are to be found in the next chapter. Of course one might find exaggerated "babble" superfluous, but there is no way to restrict people's expressivity, because MUDs are social spaces. Even mythological gods have been implemented in certain MUD domains, to be discovered in advanced quests. This is a bot:

Odin - The Father of the Universe

He appears as a somewhat older man.the most outstanding feature that you can detect is the fact that he has only one eye! He is a strong and handsome looking character. He wears a golden helmet and a coat of mail. In on hand he carries the spear Gungnir.

He is perfectly healthy.[55]

This figure has been adopted with astonishing precision from the Edda[56], that collection of ancient Nordic mythology, yet it is common enough to suffice expectations raised by a staged Odin figure in Wagner's opera "Ring of the Nibelungs". In Wunderland one may also find a house inspired by the cult splatter B-movies of "Evil Dead". There is no limit to the inventiveness and ability of wizards and gods to interweave different stylistic levels into a whole world. Neither "high-culture" nor "pulp" are ignored, if one still wishes to operate with these terms. Without euphemistic exaggeration one could speak of a metacultural intertextuality. Oftentimes intended humor sparkles out of many places. Thanks to Karm, the Arch-wiz of Nightfall, I had the chance to read songs:

Six saintly shrouded men move across the lawn slowly. You go north. You leave north because you were Born To Be Wild.

Enjoying a Daydream you are pleased that you are now Sitting On Top Of The World. The ground slopes upwards steeply to the north. You wonder how this can be possible on the top of the world! You can leave this place to the east and south. A path leads north. A rope leads up to a small Flying Circus.[57]

Players may read about their "own" feelings and thoughts. Those are imposed on them to a certain extend, which, however, does not render the game less playable.

Finally one must discover the dragons. (Remember MUD origins in AD&D!) A biblical "arch-enemy" from John's Apocalypse and satanic sub-species are rare, however. In Nightfall one finds Tolkien's Smaug[58] sitting on the way to the vampiric Dark City, eyeing you and showing his teeth. Whole MUDs have been created upon dragon-myths: Anne McCaffrey's "Dragonriders" novel series[59] led to PernMUSH [60] (with enforced role-play!); surfing through MUD connectors[61] with the appropriate query reveals more worlds like Dawn of the Dragon.[62] On entering the surreal dream-world Soap Bubble one finds another fine specimen, which will let you choose your companion (cuddly toy), similar to the imp from Nightfall:

A fat green dragon is lying before you on the lawn. He appreciatively sips from a cup of tea which he is holding in his left little hand and timidly but curiously looks at you with his big crimson eyes. His bushy black tousled hair hangs over his face and you are sure that it has never seen a comb. But then, there are no such big combs either.[63]

As not to burden this study with too much detail I decided to describe only the easiest of quests from Wunderland. It is called "The Operation". A speaking scarecrow gives the player a hint where to start. You make your way through the forest and find the hospital opposite to the "Cemetery for the Maltreated Käuers". In a minute it will become crystal clear to you why they have such a place there. On entering the hospital you spot a haggard surgeon. He tells you to perform an easy operation in the op. Inside this clinic you have a set of surgical instruments (among them an anesthetic hammer!) to take and a button to push. A weak dwarf-like creature on a metal table will appear, you are to take out his appendix. Because the operation has to be done with great speed when initiated, you have to define aliases[64] for commands like "use hammer", "cut the flesh", "close the wound" and so on. Most newbies sacrifice one or two patients before they become quick enough to have the poor thing survive. All players will hear a public announcement when a patient has died or when the "amateur-surgeon" has completed the quest. In this case such a player will be showered with congratulations. After a successful operation you simply hand the appendix over to the doctor and will receive xps. These can be converted into a higher rank and the raising of your stats. Poetically spoken, one will now be able to wield heavier swords of analysis.

III. Properties(analysis)

[…] Upon His dateless Fame

Our Periods may lie

As Stars that drop anonymous

From an abundant sky.[65]

Emily Dickinson, poem 999

III. 1. Invention of the Self: Anonymity and Identity

MUDs symbolize a contra-reality, a mirror-world of mixed mythologies, so identity has to be invented according to the possibilities of choice and linguistic restrictions. Firstly these personae are constructed and fairly easily abandoned if formed prematurely. Among the initial choices are name and gender. Almost nobody will use their real names, some decide for a gender different to their own or none at all (called "neuter" identity, which produces insecurity in others sometime).

The anonymity of MUDs—one is known in the MUD only by the name of one's character or characters—gives people the chance to express multiple and often unexplored aspects of the self, to play with their identity and to try out new ones. MUDs make possible the creation of an identity so fluid and multiple that it strains the limits of the notion. Identity, after all, refers to the sameness between two qualities, in this case between a person and his or her persona. But in MUDs, one can be many.[66]

Culturally indoctrinated values like outer beauty become superfluous (aesthetically void) through "by-pass"[67] because the visual has been eliminated from the screen for technical reasons. So technology restricts but simultaneously opens new fields of self-definition (similar to telephone calls and letter writing, but real-time[68] interactive). Prerequisite beauty conventions abound:

The convention becomes conventional—MUD worlds are free from the stigma of ugliness not because appearance ceases to matter but because no one need be seen to be ugly. The cosmetic nature of virtual worlds is, however, the least of their ability to operate upon our physically-centred prejudices.[69]

Reid Steere calls the effects of anonymity and safety through physical distance "pseudo-nymity"[70], where self-description and more intimate contact between players are encouraged. Some "hide behind the anonymity."[71]

It seems to me that the most significant social factor in MUDs is the perfect anonymity provided to the players. There are no commands available to the players to discover the real-life identity of each other and, indeed, technical considerations make such commands either very difficult or impossible to implement.[72]

Curtis only describes player's abilities here, because for himself (as god or real "super-user") the anonymity of players might not exist, having total control and commands to allocate users. Player anonymity sometimes leads to disinhibition of various kinds, such as sleazing, or stirs a compulsive behavior of "going after the juice of people's attention"[73], some of which will be observed in subchapter six.

In order to get a feel for the form of self-descriptions I have selected a few:

Nightwatcher looks at you, his steady green eyes sparkling. His pleasant but searching gaze roots you to the spot, as if in a trance. After a moment, he turns and his blonde hair waves in the breeze as he drifts away. You begin to wonder...

Nightwatcher is wearing nothing. Buck naked. Not a stitch. He is pondering the future contents of his append_msg. [message][74]

People try to appear in another way than they are.

Descriptions are often heavily poetic prose, describing the beauty or handsomeness of the character. There are some descriptions that parody this tendency, and many that depart entirely from it.[75]

This functions as a means to make initial contact easier. When I started my research I had to create a character in every MUD. I decided to use the nickname "Glamorf" and chose an elvish complexion constantly morphing into a dragon form in the social MUDs. Because elaborate self descriptions are unattainable for newbies in LPMUDs I simply selected some male elf character in those settings. It depends entirely upon the players linguistic and integrative capacity how charismatic the result is. An example for wish fulfillment to acquire the ideal self:


A lean Man standing a metre 73, weighing about 70 kilos. His hair is golden brown with hints of red, the frame for his angelic face. Deep set are two emerald eyes that peer back at you. His vestiage is all in black with a cloak concealing him. You see on his right hand an emerald colored ring of peculiar origin. You realize that it is that of a Green Lantern. You can tell he is the sort of man who can see the strings that bind the universe together and mend them when they break.[76]

Having understood the effects self-descriptions have upon readers, one may also try to appear natural, with a few loveable flaws (as if to encourage helpers):


About five and a half feet tall with straight hair the colour of autumn leaves hanging just past her shoulders. She is dressed in a black and brown patterned skirt with a black sweater that is a bit too big. It constantly falls off one shoulder. She is barefoot, and you notice that she has a tattoo of a Celtic design on her left ankle. There is always a slight smile hovering around the corners of her mouth.[77]

All of these personae have been collected in LambdaMOO, because in adventure settings an appearance is being described by the program. You collect and wear tokens, armor and weapons, as your appearance reveals your possible potency. Wizards will eventually alter their pre-formed descriptions, or shroud themselves in a veil of half-invisibility. So the more obvious a game setting is, the less freedom one has in self-staging, because a participant's intensity and dexterity in locating treasure is most important for the game.

RL-identities form through life-experience; MUD-identities exist prior to experience and alter with rising safety in a closed social space.

We have multiple selves, arising from the combined complex of our social roles, that vie for supremacy within the dimension of our personal mindspace. This is the subject dimension, the 'me-MUD'. It includes feelings, thoughts and the entire range of subjective experience.[78]

Where does the motivation lie, the driving force that draws players away from reality? In comparing various studies of that kind Serpentelli discusses the provoking question of who tends to be interested in fantasy-based alternate realities:

Rhue and Lynn (1987) cite a 1981 study by Wilson and Barber of personality types they term "fantasy addicts" or "fantasy-prone personalities". They found several types of childhood experiences that correlated with fantasy-proneness; among them were encouragement to fantasize from adults, early creative situations such as piano or dramatics classes, and experiences of loneliness, isolation, and need to escape some kind of aversive stimulus. A somewhat disturbing attribute that is related to the last attribute is Wilson and Barber's finding that, at least in the context of their study, children who had suffered some form of abuse, mostly physical or emotional, were more likely to be fantasy-prone adults. This finding further raises the question of the role of fantasy as a coping mechanism.[79]

It may as well be true that fantasy-proneness directly leads to role-play and "identity workshops"[80] which depend entirely upon reflection, that is to say without counterparts in the form of the "other" such amusements fade into single-player games. (This occurs when only one player is logged in at a given time, thus having the whole MUD world for himself but no one to talk to.) A player's image of himself and the connected (un)comfortable feeling depend upon the "social skills of his peers."[81] Among those boasting, miraculous heroines and powerful wizzes in the fantastic realms there evolves a very basic quality: friendship. Grown out of the necessity in a group-effort-fight against a virtual monster there arises intimacy. Closeness may lead to TinySex[82] (to be dealt with in subchapter 4) and a lasting circle of friends all over the world without physical proximity (similar to e-mail or IRC friendships). The term friendship itself seems to have morphed in the last decade, thus devaluating proxemics substantially (but not abolishing them).

On the other hand "virtual communities"[83] provide a fertile ground for deception (people who cannot regulate their own power to pretend or cheat), be it intentional or not, and may ultimately raise anger or social unrest through their mere existence. One is transported back into medieval justice with light speed (see: punishment) once anonymity has led to disinhibition. Not an easy ground to walk upon for women (and would-be females).

III. 2. Valid human Distances: Gender Swapping

I will now be approaching a controversial issue dealt with in almost every text written on MUDs. Knowing that entering players must "choose" their gender one will be likely to meet neuters, plurals and female males. Amy Bruckman states:

Gender is so fundamental to human interactions, that the idea of a person without gender is absurd. […] Gender swapping is one example of how the Internet has the potential to change not just work practice but also culture and values. […] Female characters are often besieged with attention. […] Unwanted attention and sexual advances create an uncomfortable atmosphere for women in MUDs, just as they do in real life.[84]

For RL women comes the point where they decide to pose as impy males in order not to be queens literally swarmed with possible bee drones because they don't need the help women are assumed to need. Improper male behavior drives women away. Some authors think gender cannot be hidden forever:

The illusion of free and unbiased communication can only be maintained, and then only briefly, as long as people hide. It's a trick. In time, if you act yourself, gender is revealed. Because we do take our bodies with us. I don't log on and suddenly forget I'm female. Oh, I'm online! Now I can forget a lifetime of socialization. There it goes, right out the window! Right. You don't forget your body online anymore than you do in the physical world. Or remember it.[85]

With the computer-business still being a male domain one discovers many men in female shapes from "luscious lips"[86] –teenagers over "plain girl"–testers to "earnestly trying women"–benders. MUD population percentage estimations vary between peaks of 95% males[87] to 60% females.[88] In fact it is impossible to give concrete numbers here. Flirtatious female presenters are assumed to be male. Some provoke chivalry. Interpretations range widely:

Some MUD players have suggested to me that such transvestite flirts are perhaps acting out their own (latent or otherwise) homosexual urges or fantasies, taking advantage of the perfect safety of the MUD situation to see how it feels to approach other men.[89]

Tester types are reported to having evolved into complete females conducting deeply felt relationships until they were discovered.[90] For other men it is mere curiosity. Kya of Wunderland:

In the beginning everybody tried to help me much more... I got items much easier than a male newbie. Now most players know that I am male in real life and I think it is no difference for me to play Kya. In fact it doesn't matter that Kya is a female character now. One time there was a problem with my gender—I got engaged to Romulus who thought that I was female in real life. I don't think that Kya being female is a big thing to me, I like the mud and I like hanging around with the players...[91]

He is married to another female persona in the MUD (without explicit sex talk). His character Kya was created out of the necessity to distract one of those chivalrous boys from an RL female character. Kya was derived from the name of an Asian car manufacturer: Kia.

One effect of such an imbalance of the sexes is that testers gain insights of how women are still approached by men nowadays, complete with all due "penis-weaving"[92] and competition, thus making them aware of prevalent social problems but simultaneously producing shame. Gender equality still lies in the future, although feminism and gender studies become widespread. Still other players find the whole issue of genderbending criminal or sick, but this won't stop players from switching genders. For some players life becomes even spicier with a growing dissolution of culturally old-fashioned boundaries and increasing uncertainties. Knowing that a possible partner might be of the same sex tests both tolerance and ignorance of a player. Everything that happens between them is textual, so time has come to have a closer look at communication in MUDs at large.[93]

III. 3. CMC: Vocabulary and Notes on Communication

Already on your first trip you will read abbreviations like brb, rotfl and cu (be right back, rolling over the floor laughing, see you)[94]. Those samples of MUD-speke exemplify that brevity is vital to fast-flowing, "multi-threaded and multi-layered"[95] communication. They also symbolize how emotions are transformed into text under a pressure to maintain wholeness. Internal codes like these must be learned and used to belong to the group. MUDs have grown into "a new kind of sociolinguistic environment"[96] where "conversational multi-tasking"[97] may develop. Able typists rank high here:

In a MUD it is literally true that "reality" is created through language, both by the actions of the players and through the code used by the programmers.[98]

Like any language MUD-slang demands culturedness, symbols, codes, signs, grammar, tone and nuance. Some of these seem repressed by the system, by pure textuality, but human inventiveness has replaced and compressed the richness of meaning to some extend. A common non-verbal feature of both IRC and MUDs are emoticons (or smileys), that are made of "alphanumeric characters and punctuation symbols to create strings of highly emotively charged keyboard art:[99]

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Serpentelli conducted a study wherein she tried to localize the issues of MUD-intern talk and how much time is spent on each:

The codes encompassed greetings, biographical information, gestures that keep conversation going ("nudges"), expressions of affection, humor, and hostility, physical action, interaction with system code, talking about computers and programming, discussing rooms, topics, or channels in general, discussing individual's behavior and characters, and an "other" category for uncodable statements.[100]

Surprisingly, physical action (using either standard verbs like "hug", "frown", "grin" in adventure MUDs or the "emote" command) occurs very often, indeed urging the players to react strategically or to create their own emotes. With gestures and facial expressions plus actions regained (or replaced), life becomes more challenging and approaches RL.

Another trait of MUDs is that they encourage all participants to invent their own words for appropriate situations which then enter the general core of language in the specific MUD. So a busy wizard will reply to pestering newbies that he has to "prog" (program) some rooms (in German: "proggen"). Hunters on a quest apologize for being curt because they have to "notch" (kerben) more monsters. (I did not understand that until I saw someone killing a pig and notching his stick as to keep a record [score] of his deeds. That reminds us of Crusoe[101], who marks a post as a means to getting a calendar.) Language twists and sentences like "I have to go notch some of them" are accepted, although the verb "notching" requires other targets. There is even a channel for the sole purpose of expressing condolences after a bot has announced the elimination of a player on the death-channel. But 'silence' is rare on MUDs; conversations get mixed up due to typing speed and the general lag[102], so that one must be able to filter out the valuable data from the "noise" that sometimes accumulates to a "pandemonium."[103] While exploring Morgengrauen [104] (engl.: Dawn) I was given help by a character whose player lives in Vienna. That character in the MUD used a Viennese German accent, typing as he would speak in RL and thus preserving his linguistic roots and identity (which is also influenced by local language acquisition and underlines that we are language constructs). Present tense is used for immediacy and live-action, sometimes to an extend of "verbverbing" like "Fred hughugs Ginger."

In this instance, the linguistic practices found on MUDs metaphorically mimic social practices. The tense repetitive action is analogous to the twitching of muscle tissue. In actuality, one does not merely grin or hug or nod in one single fluid motion. Each action is a compound of many contractions and relaxations of muscles, and movements of limbs. 'Nodnod' is a textual form that comes far closer to the actual act of nodding than does the simple word 'nod'. It is an immediate form of the participle 'nodding'. It is a continuing verb, a representation of an action which overlaps more than one point in time.[105]

The command "verbs" will produce a list of pre-programmed possibilities. MUD-jargon tends to get voluminous at times, for instance one may choose to "french", " whuggle"[106] (We HUG in Graphically Lame Environments) or "kick" players and objects. Complete stings with one's name in front are automatically displayed. To enrich the self-descriptive branch of communication—that of attaching physical or mental action to oneself—there is also the possibility of adding adverbs and adjectives to such an output message. A quite unique feature of MUD-speke is the use of "remote verbs". One may perform actions on persons who are not in the same room. Many times I got my hair tousled by remote friends and strangers. This might signal welcome or comment on previous utterances. Emotionally charged verbs are used frequently as one shall see when observing MUD high times.

III. 4. Extremes One: Body Marketplace vs. TinySEX

Netsex is similar to phone sex, but conducted on a MUD and therefore with emote as well as say capabilities, so that the acts performed are psychologically closer to real actions than to descriptions of actions. Some people conduct sexual and social lives on the MOO, and on other MUDs there are even weddings between characters.[107]

A problem causing feature of all virtual spaces is their availability for explicit intimacy. This chapter focuses on the brighter side while chapter six deals with unpleasant deviations. One must not forget the game setting when examining sexual intercourse in MUDs. This has nothing to do with conventional "cybersex," as it is drawn to the fore by the mass media. Nobody slips into electronically wired latex suits when getting intimate on a MUD, at least nobody I have ever heard of. Textual virtualities enable players to express their tenderness and preferences, private rooms ensure the required intimacy. Sometimes mere gambol is exceeded.

Karm says: We have some 'funny' tools that players may freely use. One of them is the flirter! And this flirter does also feature some... well... 'perverse' commands ;o)

You say: Demonstration, I wanna see it work. Explicitly for adults.

Karm touches you with loving hands.

>french Karm

You give Karm a deep and passionate kiss... it seems to take forever...

Karm says: And now to the x-rated stuff...

Karm ties you up in silken bonds, bringing you within an inch of cuming, and walks away leaving you panting for more.[108]

While my observations of IRC multi-channel users revealed what I call a "Body Marketplace", MUD sex occurs more directly given the right mood and context. IRC lacks rooms to feel comfortable in and RL dating is negotiated by simply sending pictures and exaggerating physical properties. (At least monitoring Berlin gblf[109] channels produced such an impression.)

TinySEX can become very sophisticated, even graphic at times. Teenage innuendo and hozers mark only the first stage on the way to more promising encounters. They have relatively few possibilities when compared to adult fantasies. But then again, quality lies in the eye of the beholder. An encounter I shared was that players may receive some very stimulating "french lessons."[110] As one confesses:

I started Echo to meet guys. It's at the bottom of everything I do. The promise of sex. Whether I'm reading, writing, watching tv, at the movies, or dancing, it all has a sensual element and if it doesn't, on to the next thing. Without it, what's the point? Boys, boys, boys. I haven't changed a bit since I was 16. The men on Echo have left me breathless -- something they said, it made me laugh, made me think, made me mad. No where else am I so surrounded by the words of men... they raise the air of possibility and keep it there always, up, up, and everyday I log on and think, 'Well, you never know.' It's irresistible I tell you. Cyberspace is a most erotic medium. Expectation. It's thrilling. Keeps you alive.[111]

Deception is not uncommon, though. One should never be too sure about someone's inclinations! Part of that anonymous, disembodied, and perhaps androgynous sex causes even greater uncertainties, which are debated amongst players fairly often.[112] Managing complicated sexual politics with few cues and accepting certain liberties can be a cause of great distress for some newbies. However, due to a generally friendly atmosphere, one will eventually cope with initial shyness. TinySEX is at least absolutely safe. Flexible people accept the "erosion of gender" and the loss of "fixity."[113] Factors like attraction, fun, excitement, and tenderness do still exist, perhaps even more so than in "normal" situations. Otherwise TinySEX would occur less often.

The human body is represented through narrow bandwidth communication in all its culturally laden fleshiness through the coding of cultural expectations as linguistic tokens of meaning. Desire is no longer grounded in physicality in cyberspace, in triumphant confirmation of the thesis that the most important human erogenous zone is the mind.[114]

This belongs to the game. If anything, one is approached more easily than in RL, because borders of social status, beauty and race have evaporated. Anecdotal literature and Usenet newsgroups like alt.rec.games.mud provide the appropriate romances, the ups and downs of basic human interaction. Intensity also differs from case to case. And there is still the power button on the computer if things go wrong and fear returns.

III. 5. Entrapments: From Adrenaline-Hype to Addiction

Only a thin dimensional barrier separates us from chaos of the Dark Zone.

The Dark Zone is not separate like two different planets.

The Dark Zone coexists in the same space as our universe.

In the same place at the same time.[115]

For a certain risk group switching off the machine becomes nearly impossible. Time has come to have a closer look at player profiles: Who plays and how often? The average player is about college age (17-21) or older (22.3 years appr.), male (84%), and spends 20.2 hours (±16.9) a week mudding.[116] Both social and adventure (hack and slash) MUDs are equally popular in the US. Germany stays behind with almost no social MUDs. But unlike Americans (where I have no data about racial differentiation apart from guessing that players are overwhelmingly white and affluent), German players will be 97% white. My dated sources point to the fact that students are about the only group with Internet access, but in 1999 far more people are connected. Still there are strong arguments for the student suggestion because we have free access and don't pay for our amusement other than with time. Additional players are to be found in computer-based professions, where they either program or process data and have a telnet window open on their screen all day. One finds such "idle" players that simply don't respond when addressed and may use the "finger" command to see how long they have been present but inactive. There is even a player who calls himself "BigIdler" in Wunderland.

Literature indicates that some "addicts" play as much as 80 hours a week. Those people have become severely trapped and "addicted [not to the MUD itself, but] to playing with the issue of control."[117] Here individuals who are well versed in MUD-speech, programming, puzzle-solving, and witty talk find safe, anonymous spaces where no one threatens their dominance. Combined chatline and game attraction for attention seekers:

When persona and player fuse, as they do in a good MUA, events are given an impact far beyond that of the mere words that convey them. The game's virtual reality becomes (temporarily) the player's reality. Players can do things and have things done to them that are impossible in real life; they can experience feelings and imbue feelings in others that real life denies them. It's the belief that things are happening to you, not to a game persona, that makes MUAs unique.[118]

Though Rheingold denies that one can mistake VR for real reality[119], I must admit that there appear strong arguments in favor of such a notion. Friendlier addicts ignore their own problems in order to be admired as a helping hand in the virtual world: they play extremely often to become even more popular and neglect their RL social skills (the attention-leads-to-involvement-circle). Evil addicts become genocidal and cremate masses of players at random with their wiz powers (what I would coin the final stage of the-thrill-to-kill-syndrome which starts with playerkilling on a low scale). Lucky MUDder-specimen help themselves out of such dangerous situations of long-time mudding and communication addiction:

Some people appear to thrive on the constant turnover of MUD players throughout a day, enjoying the novelty of always having someone new to talk to. In some cases, this enjoyment goes so far as to become a serious kind of addiction, with some players spending as much as 35 hours out of 48 constantly connected and conversing on MUDs. I know of many players who have taken more-or-less drastic steps to curtail their participation on MUDs, feeling that their habits had gotten significantly out of control.[120]

Cases where MUD lovers became friends or married in RL abound. Sad cases where people play away their money with phone bills until they are disconnected and heavily indebted (burnouts) or have to be dragged away from the machine with force (or are reported missing) are also known.[121]

Sue was an archetypal MUD addict. Although the game was only available between midnight and 6am, Sue would play the entire time, every night. She had telephone bills of over a thousand pounds a month, as she had to call long-distance to play.[122]

One may describe the feeling of being ripped out of a maximum psychic addiction as a kind of withdrawal from the electronic needle. Next, one will discover that virtual communities have created a whole new kind of addiction:

These are very enticing places for a segment of the community. And it's not like the kinds of addictions that we've dealt with as a society in the past. If they're out of control, I think that's a problem. But if someone is spending a large portion of their time being social with people who live thousands of miles away, you can't say that they've turned inward. They aren't shunning society. They're actively seeking it. They're probably doing it more actively than anyone around them. It's a whole new ballgame.[123]

Common lore echoes that the issue of control has a Dark Side[124], that of "being controlled by the medium instead of controlling it"[125], which holds true for chatlines, various games, and watching TV as well. The more virtualities tend to appear hyperreal[126] and fruitful, the more danger they incorporate for addictiveness. Do personae turn into cyborgs[127], as Reid Steere suggests? Friends, peers and parents of MUDders should perhaps supervise and regulate them to a certain extend, because, once disrupted, psyches are difficult to mend. When logging on to Wunderland one is very likely to find a core-group of players that are always connected. Some of them might be addicts, but most players will answer that they simply make good use of their overtime in periods of inaction at the work place or between university courses. Some Colleges are reported to have banned mudding from their campuses, but a nationwide ban in Australia has never existed (as Reid Steere points out in an article).[128]

III. 6. Extremes Two: Deviations and Regulative Mechanisms

As I tried to point out when talking about anonymity there are possibilities for deviant behavior. Since users cannot be harmed physically or financially when punished, some impostors and experimentators do display their rude side. The majority of them simply tests how far they can go and counter worried arguments with the phrase that it was only a game. However, a minority steps further and behaves violently. The most graphical example of severe violence (psycho) became known as "a rape in cyberspace."[129] In summary it was the case of a player on LambdaMOO, Mr. Bungle, who used a tool, the voodoo doll, to have other players perform sexually violent actions upon themselves. Those women could do nothing against it. Bungle projected his fantasies upon them and the other players could only watch with horror. One might say that those persons under attack could have simply switched off their computers, but the whole affair was a little more complex. They felt raped and abused, because their personae had become dear to them, and because "in text-based virtual realities such as MUDs, words are deeds."[130] So it seems logical that "words can hurt."[131] A wave of outrage formed against Bungle after that incident, crying for immediate execution (toading). Still such things were not to be decided by a mob. They organized a "pow-wow" and discussed possible proceedings. In the end Bungle himself appeared and declared:

I engaged in a bit of a psychological device that is called thought-polarization, the fact that this is not RL simply added to heighten the affect of the device. It was purely a sequence of events with no consequence on my RL existence.[132]

After he had been toaded by a concerned wizard he returned in another shape, as the newly created Dr. Jest, without possessing any object that belonged to Mr. Bungle. (Nothing "real" had happened to the player! He had merely lost some time.) He was still evil, but not violent, and he had provoked internal debates that led to a better understanding of the whole community. Punishment was symbolical and all sanctions reversible.

In LambdaMOO, a series of violent "rapes" by one character caused a crisis among the participants, one that led to special conferences devoted to the issue of punishing the offender and thereby better defining the nature of the community space of the conference. This experience also cautions against depictions of cyberspace as utopia: the wounds of modernity are borne with us when we enter this new area and in some cases are even exacerbated.[133]

The event taught other players and wizards a lesson. Nowadays women may choose to seek refuge in monitored MUDs, where they are able to immediately dispose of offenders by means of crying for help. A wizard will appear and simply cast a lightning bolt on the guy if he doesn't stop. (Of course the female-presenting character might be male as well!) False accusations may arise as a result to such fright of offense, as was the case with a player from MediaMOO [134], SamIAm, who was innocently exiled from 2 MUDs for a period of 6 month because of incorrectly handled facts or assumptions.[135] Cyberspaces becomes more real than other non-RL gatherings in many ways:

Some people say the relationships in virtual communities aren't real. Usually some disappointed Utopian who wasn't looking for real, but better. They are unhappy with how dismally real it can be. No, cyberspace is not filled with just the people you like. You're also going to run into people who give you The Fear. If you're an asshole out there you're going to be an asshole in here. You just can't help yourself.[136]

Another lesson learned was that there seems to be an assumed "Netiquette."[137] Nowadays many MUDs include help-manners files (commandments against different forms of harassment: "spamming," "shouting," "spoofing," "spying," "teleporting objects that one does not own," "emoting violence or obscenities" )[138] that explain basic rules of behavior, pointing to the fact that everybody should be treated with respect and that rudeness (cursing and intimidating) would not be accepted. Minor transgressions like theft[139] or small vandalism do still occur, but severe cases are almost unheard of these days. Regulative mechanisms, even if denoted medieval, function satisfactorily for the community to reinforce norms into the social clusters.

I propose that cyberspace is naturally "Hobbesian," a place without rights, but that it can become "Lockean" if its occupants construct such a moral space; and more generally, moral dimensions of cyberspace are to be constructed rather than discovered.[140]

Occurrences like virtual "rape" underline once more how strongly some players feel about their characters and that MUDs "are by no means idyllic."[141] We have seen that phenomenon when examining the desperation about virtual death. Now one can perhaps better understand what was meant by the term "fluidity": The real merges with the simulation of a simulation. Ultimately, there is no such thing as the real. People type and simultaneously develop dependence to their self-invented avatars. Where does this lead contemporary society? Have we ourselves become objects or knots in net structures? As Michael Real proposes: "Our super media, ourselves."[142]

IV.Log Out (conclusion)

She tried to think about

how to get out of there,

but her mind was mud.

Marge Piercy [143]

IV. 1. In the Flesh: RL Repercussions

What does the future hold? Mudding has effects on RL. Firstly, people socialize in the virtuality and take their experience with them. They might be drawn back to the machine, they will say that they want to spend more time with their friends. Some will create several personae in order to express different moods. They will experience spaces of freedom (similar perhaps to other virtual or imagined metaphysical spectacles like the religious paradise, or simple dreams). Not everybody who enters a MUD will like it, nor will they even try another one. Many women will perceive it as a male domain (as I have observed) and decide not to return because of the fantasy setting or their own lack of computer skills. But such a development can change over the years.

Secondly, people who have met in the virtual surrounding will organize parties and "picnics"[144] in RL. Photos taken at such meetings are to be found on many MUD homepages. The effects of such a sudden change of mode rank from failure to success. Failure is the insight that almost nobody is as beautiful or talkative as in the MUD, and that most of them appear as socially inept "nerds"[145] like trekkies sometimes do. It proves that many don't have a "terribly glamorous life."[146] Success, on the other hand, is the acceptance of this and the beginning of RL friendships and love affairs (as Bruckman describes in the case of two TrekMUSE [147] players, DePlane and Delilah). Marriages of former Mudders are not unheard of.[148] Even in the MUD you can marry (also people with the same gender, which I think is a development towards a more tolerant society.) Ceremonies are programmed and witnessed by the community, quite as later in RL weddings.[149] Those romances underline the social cohesion of the MUD.

People at the end of the millennium carry many burdens with them—perhaps best described with what Poster calls "the wounds of modernity" in a quote in the previous chapter— from child abuse to divorce and alcoholism, from alienation to attempted suicide. Some neglect their relatives which in turn begin to seek compensations for their loneliness in either turning violent or socializing digitally. Many have been, from a social perspective, pushed out into the cold. Observe the growing gap between rich and poor everywhere! They have created their own worlds and await new inhabitants. They know that behind their computer screen and the Net sits yet another human being, no matter where on the globe. Theorists will pronounce and discuss the (im)possible creation of a "global village."[150] Tapscott talks of an advancing Net-Generation (N-Geners[151] ) when observing his self-constructed chatrooms for teens. These teens would be potent and well versed with the computer. In this case their abilities prove the discovery of a "meaningful way to spend one's time." Bruckman implies that such an assumption would be difficult to make with Mudders. She points at value judgments.[152] As anywhere else, people don't behave 'politically correct' all the time.

IV. 2. Evaluation: Short-lived Exchange Realities or Prospective Grail Castles?

Ready for the shocker? Reality is a game. It has rules (physics), players (life forms), and many goals. ... I won't deny that MUDs are games, but if that is so then reality can also be considered a game.[153]

Returning to the initial question of how identities are constructed in MUDs one can give many answers. They result from a compilation of gender-choice, self-description, sexual encounters and gained experience. Grown in anonymity they reveal a player's prose-potential ("dramatic skill"[154] ) and social continuity (a sharing of responsibility). Sometimes they are nearly identical with a player's RL identity and sometimes they are parts of repressed—not necessarily schizophrenic!—wishes (or "carnival inversions of RL"[155] when parodying their own foundations). Often all those factors work together and players become wizards with quests, thus advancing in role-play, mastery and identity construction. MUD denizens act out their fantasies; with a few commands and witty reactions they create what would never be possible in the physical, non-magical world. The issues of control and mastery in the MUD are as important as acceptance and friendship. It may occur to observers that Mudders are developing a kind of narcissistic self-love (see Ovid: Narcissus; or Freud) when conjuring themselves up in fantastic words. I doubt it.

Within this ambivalent virtual space, notions of human identity and existence are problematised. MUD characters have no actuality, only virtuality. They are never immutable. MUD characters are not fixed and they are always in the process of redefinition. They are cyborgs—entities made up of ones and zeroes and imagination, without bodies and without physical restrictions in the virtuality they inhabit.[156]

Successful MUDs are online for a long time, though an influx decline may finally destroy some due to social saturation. An additional property of MUDs is their potential for most different uses. Academic[157] MUDs (including video-links) are established for conferences on research[158] or as system tools and extensions of contact for a professional community[159] (for instance: ifMUD[160] ). They may become places to mix work and play in order to enlarge educational dimensions.[161] Their interface function once again reminds me of the meaning of that word "the face between the faces."[162] Nevertheless, I would doubt Rheingold's notion of the "electronic frontier." (See also Shawn Wilbur or the notion of a "grail-like"[163] obsession with the frontier in the American mind in Laura Miller's article.) Utopianism has been rejected twice in this paper (see quotes: Poster [page 27] and Horn [p.28]). Although one might trace the word "u-topos" epistemologically, which would reveal notions of the "not-space" or "no-where" and thus fit with the virtuality of MUDs (which is even used for social experiments), there seem to be lacking some vital elements of utopias. I think the most prominent factor that renders MUDs non-utopian is the absence of physical form which would create a reality-oriented space for citizens. Socially progressive models abound, though.

According to Roger Harazim (from MUD2) Germany is about 18 months behind America, but will "eventually […] catch on."[164] He plans to install his MUD2 in Germany and make a lot of money with it because of the quality and safety it possesses. So a commercial branch of MUDs offers profit for potential investors as the trend rises. Bartle comes to a similar conclusion, recommending MUDs to the British Telecom.

The issues and cultural intertextuality discussed in this paper will become more visible to Germans by that time. I am not in a position to judge whether MUDs are completely "postmodern" (as one might think when reading Baudrillard, Poster, and Lyotard). But they do have a strong tendency to a certain—however problematic—multiculturality,[165] which is caused by their connection to the World Wide Web, and a somewhat limited self-reflexivity (in a form of scientific writings by MUD players and administrators). Not everyone has access to the Internet, not even every white, affluent, young, Anglo-Saxon, male Christian, although this group of users is larger than any other, even "disproportionate."[166] This paper did not want to question these "explosive" terms, but they have to come to light sometime, don't they!? Perhaps MUDs are only one among many fashions these days. Critics will label them a waste of time and governmental resources. Perhaps they signify a pathological cultural dissolution in the age of alienation, if such a vague assumption were allowed to be made today. Critique might also turn into concern in the sense of: "What happened to the young generation?" But to the persons involved in MUDs they are neither useless nor stupid, explaining perhaps why they are so popular among academics! Knowing they offer escape mechanisms (or a "therapy"[167] for rootless persons) it might only be a matter of regulating and limiting the time spend in them. I think Baudrillard tries to incorporate every part of current media development in his notion of "virality"—and it's being closely connected to virtuality—when talking about "micro-communication" and the dissolution of sense and meaning through the diffusion of the media.[168]

More importantly, MUDs have become a compensation for the shrinking "third [informal public] spaces"[169] in today's world, a new ground for the stay-at-home generation, enabling us for a "better living through language".[170] They might not be intended to replace pubs and cafés, but they provide an additional area for gatherings, creative acts and fetishism of many kinds, sometimes to a level of being consumed for compulsive players. And, ultimately, their influence will grow as more and more people get connected and explore the "information superhighway."[171] But they will definitely create neither Grail nor Utopia.

This paper facilitates a structuredness that is perhaps untimely or not en-vogue, but the interconnectedness of the named issues should have become clear by now. Certain aspects had to be marginalized for the sake of sanity and brevity in a "Hauptseminar-Arbeit". As always I will let another one have the last words. Asked if he had a message for the world, the Arch-Wizard of Nightfall replied this:

Karm says: Maybe you can read about MUDs, but you will never know what it is all about until you tried it on your own. It's like a fruit...

Karm says: You can't describe how it tastes, it tastes different for everyone.

Karm says: So are MUDs.

Karm smiles happily.

Glamorf smiles, too. He couldn't have said it in better words.[172]

V.Bibliography & Sources

Allfather's Great Creation: http://www.nightfall.org/booklet/lore/allfather.html

Dr. Richard Bartle, Interactive Mulit-User Computer Games (Essex: MUSE Ltd./ British Telecom, 1990) http://www.oise.on.ca/~jnolan/muds/about_muds/mudreport

Jean Baudrillard, Simulacra and Simulations, in: JB Selected Writings, Mark Poster (ed.) (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1988)

Brockhaus Enzyklopädie (19th edition), vol. 14 (Mannheim: Brockhaus, 1991)

James Brook, Iain Boal, Resisting the Virtual Life – The Culture and Politics of Information (San Francisco: City Lights 1995)

Bruckman, Curtis, Figallo, Laurel, Approaches to Managing Deviant Behavior in Virtual Communities (Boston, Association for Computing Machinery, 1994) http://www.oise.on.ca/~jnolan/muds/about_muds/asb/dev

Amy S. Bruckman, Gender Swapping on the Internet (Presented at The Internet Society, San Fransisco, CA, August 1993) http://www.oise.on.ca/~jnolan/muds/about_muds/asb/gen

Amy Bruckman, Identity Workshop: Emergent Social and Psychological Phenomena in Text-Based Virtual Reality (MIT Media Laboratory, 1992) http://www.oise.on.ca/~jnolan/muds/about_muds/asb/identity-workshop

Thomas Bulfinch, The Golden Age of Myth and Legend (London: Senate, 1994)

Eva-Lise Carlstrom, Better Living Through Language : The Communicative Implications of a Text-Only Virtual Environment (Grinnell College, 1992) http://www.oise.on.ca/~jnolan/muds/about_muds/communicative

Lynn Cherny, Gender Differences in Text-Based Virtual Reality (Linguistics Department / Stanford University 1994) http://www.oise.on.ca/~jnolan/muds/about_muds/gt

Chris Chesher, Colonizing Virtual Reality (cultronix) http://english-www.hss.cmu.edu/cultronix/chesher/

Wes Cooper, Wizards, Toads, and Ethics – Reflections of a MOO Administrator (CMC Magazine 1 / 1996) http://www.december.com/cmc/mag/1996/jan/cooper.html

Pavel Curtis, Mudding: Social Phenomena in Text-Based Virtual Realities (Xerox Parc)


Pavel Curtis, David A. Nichols, MUDs Grow Up: Social Virtual Reality in the Real World (XeroxPARC '93) http://www.oise.on.ca/~jnolan/muds/about_muds/mudsgrowup

Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe (1719, London: Penguin Popular Classics, 1994)

Julian Dibbell, A Rape in Cyberspace (The Village Voice, Dec. 21, 1993)

Die Edda: Götterdichtung, Spruchweisheit und Heldengesänge der Germanen / übertr. von Felix Genzmer (Codex Regius 13th century, München: Diederichs, 1981, 1997)

Rémy Evard, Collaborative Networked Communication: MUDs as Systems Tools (Northeastern University 1993) http://www.ccs.neu.edu/home/remy/documents/cncmast.html

Nigel Findley, Shadowrun: Lone Wolf (London, New York: ROC Penguin Books, 1994)

William Gibson, Neuromancer (1984; London: Grafton Books, 1989)

Stacy Horn, Cyberville : Clicks, Culture, and the Creation of an Online Town (New York: Warner Books 1998) Exerpts found at: http://www.echonyc.com/~horn/excerpts.html

Thomas H. Johnson (ed.): The Poems of Emily Dickinson (Cambridge [MAS]: The Belknap Press, 1955)

Holger Kühn, Inversions in VR and RL compared to Carnival (Oral Presentation: HU-Berlin, 1999)

Anne McCaffrey, Dragondrums (1979, German Translation–München: Heyne 1983, 1991)

David Morley, Kevin Robins, Spaces of Identity – Global Media, Electronic Landscapes and Cultural Boundaries (London and NY: Routledge 1995)

MUD Dictionary, wysiwyg://25/http://wl.mud.de/mud/doc/misc/dictionary.html

Thyagi NagaSiva, The MUD as a Basis for Western Mysticism (1992) http://www.oise.on.ca/~jnolan/muds/about_muds/muds.as.psych

John Oughton, GENDERBENDING ON THE MUSH (1993) http://www.oise.on.ca/~jnolan/muds/about_muds/ours/john1

Publius Ovidius Naso (Ovid), Metamorphosen, prose translation by Gerhard Fink (2-8 A.D., Frankfurt am Main: Fischer, 1998)

Marge Piercy, Woman on the Edge of Time (1976; New York: Fawcett Crest / Ballantine, 1991)

Mark Poster, The Second Media Age (New York: Polity Press, 19962)

Neil Postman, Technopoly (New York: Alfred Knopf, Inc. 1991; [German Transaltion, Frankfurt am Main: Fischer, 1992])

Michael R. Real, Super Media – A Cultural Studies Approach (London: Sage Publications, 1989)

Elizabeth Reid Steere, Are MUDs Banned in Australia? (CMC Magazine, vol.1, Nr.4, August 1, 1994) http://metalab.unc.edu/cmc/mag/1994/aug/muds.html

Elizabeth Reid Steere, Cultural Formations In Text-Based Virtual Realities (University of Melbourne, 1994) http://people.we.mediaone.net/elizrs/cult-form.txt

Elizabeth Reid Steere, Electropolis: Communication and Community in Internet Relay Chat (Honours Thesis, University of Melbourne, 1991) http://www.oise.on.ca/~jnolan/muds/about_muds/et

Howard Rheingold, The Virtual Community – Homesteading on the Electronic Frontier (1993) http://www.rheingold.com

Florian Rötzer (ed.), Digitaler Schein – Ästhetik der elektronischen Medien (Frankfurt am Main: Surkamp, 1991)

Jill Serpentelli, Conversational Structure and Personality Correlates of Electronic Communication (Haverford College, 1995)


Marty Simon, LEXX Soundtrack CD (Germany: Colosseum, 1997)

Charles J. Stivale, 'help manners': Cyber-Democracy and its Vicissitudes (Dept. of Romance Languages and Literatures, Wayne State University 1996) http://wwwpub.utdallas.edu/~cynthiah/lingua_archive/help_manners.html

Don Tapscott, Growing Up Digital – The Rise of the Net Generation (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1998)

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, The Hobbit (1937; London: HarperCollins Publishers 1993)

Toto, Dune Soundtrack CD (USA: Dino De Laurentis Corporation, 1984)

Sherry Turkle, Life on the Screen – Identity in the Age of the Internet (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995)

Sherry Turkle, The Second Self: Computers and the Human Spirit (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1984)

John Unsworth, Living Inside the (Operating) System: Community in Virtual Reality (Draft 1995) http://jefferson.village.virginia.edu/pmc/Virtual.Community.html

Shawn P. Wilbur, An Archeology of Cyberspaces: Community, Virtuality, Mediation, Commerce (1995) http://ernie.bgsu.edu/~swilbur/AoCS.html

VI. Appendix

VI. 1. Listed MUD-sites: Connect via telnet

(Some sites may have moved, since my sources were so dated. I omit transcripts of whole MUD sessions for the sake of brevity.)

Dawn of the Dragon: dawn.eos.net 3000

EOTL (The Revenge of the End Of The Line): mud.stanford.edu 2010

ifMUD (where IF stands for "interactive fiction"[173] ): orange.res.cmu.edu 4000[174]

LambdaMOO: lambda.moo.mud.org 8888

MediaMOO: mediamoo.cc.gatech.edu 8888

Morgengrauen: mg.mud.de

MUD2: mud2.com

Nightfall: nightfall.org

PernMUSH: pern.mccr.org 4201

Seifenblase: port 3333

TrekMUSE: tos.tos.net 1701

Wunderland: wl.mud.de 4711

VI. 2. List of Abbreviations

illustration not visible in this excerpt

© DAVE 4/99 (final overhauled and evaluated V1.4b+ )

my e-mail: glamorf@web.de

his paper online at www.grin.de


[1] Toto, Dune Soundtrack CD (USA: Dino De Laurentis Corporation, 1984) Prologue

[2] detailed information on IRC is to be found in: Elizabeth Reid Steere, Electropolis: Communication and Community in Internet Relay Chat (Honours Thesis, University of Melbourne, 1991) http://www.oise.on.ca/~jnolan/muds/about_muds/et

[3] John Oughton, GENDERBENDING ON THE MUSH (1993) http://www.oise.on.ca/~jnolan/muds/about_muds/ours/john1

[4] Pavel Curtis, Mudding: Social Phenomena in Text-Based Virtual Realities (Xerox Parc) Online essay at: http://www.oise.on.ca/~jnolan/muds/about_muds/pavel.html

[5] for a detailed history of VR see: Chris Chesher, Colonizing Virtual Reality (cultronix) http://english-www.hss.cmu.edu/cultronix/chesher/

[6] Elizabeth Reid Steere, Cultural Formations In Text-Based Virtual Realities (University of Melbourne, 1994) 3 http://people.we.mediaone.net/elizrs/cult-form.txt

[7] William Gibson, Neuromancer (1984; London: Grafton Books, 1989) 67

[8] for example: Nigel Findley, Shadowrun: Lone Wolf (London, New York: ROC Penguin Books, 1994) 32

[9] Eva-Lise Carlstrom, Better Living Through Language : The Communicative Implications of a Text-Only Virtual Environment (Grinnell College, 1992) 1 http://www.oise.on.ca/~jnolan/muds/about_muds/communicative

[10] Reid Steere, 11

[11] currently accessible via telnet: lambda.moo.mud.org 8888

[12] Dr. Richard Bartle, Interactive Mulit-User Computer Games (Essex: MUSE Ltd./ British Telecom, 1990) 3


[13] LP stands for Lars Pensjo, one early developer; his MUD has been copied and modified various times

[14] referring to JRR Tolkien's trilogy, The Lord of the Rings (appr.1937) which is said to have invented the fantasy genre in literature as it is known today

[15] Sherry Turkle, Life on the Screen – Identity in the Age of the Internet (New York: Simon & Schuster '95) 11

[16] Bartle, 3

[17] Turkle, 9

[18] Howard Rheingold, The Virtual Community – Homesteading on the Electronic Frontier (1993) chapter 5 http://www.rheingold.com

[19] location at uni-leipzig: wl.mud.de 4711

[20] Some titles by Wolkow (1891-1977): The Wizard of the Emerald-Town, The Fire-God of the Marranes, The Yellow Fog (German Translation: Raduga-Verlag Moskau, 1984)

[21] for example EOTL (The Revenge of the End Of The Line) character creation in: Reid Steere, Appendix 7

[22] Log from a nightfall.org session, recorded on the 15th of April 1999

[23] Bartle, 8

[24] more information on the social consequences of "playerkilling" in: Reid Steere, 31

[25] Reid Steere, 16

[26] Morgengrauen at: mg.mud.de 23

[27] Roger Harazim (one Archwizard of MUD2), e-mail from Tuesday, 13 April 1999. nymala@compuserve.com

[28] John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, The Hobbit (1937; London: HarperCollins Publishers 1993) 24

[29] Reid Steere, 27

[30] Bartle, 95 (MUAs are multi-user adventures, a term less ambiguous for Bartle than MUD)

[31] Reid Steere, 28

[32] Curtis, 7

[33] Rheingold, chapter 5

[34] Sherry Turkle, from: The Second Self: Computers and the Human Spirit (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1984) 210, as quoted in: Jill Serpentelli: Conversational Structure and Personality Correlates of Electronic Communication (Haverford College, 1995) 2; http://www.oise.on.ca/~jnolan/muds/about_muds/conv-structure

[35] the following abilities are described in: Bartle, 14-15

[36] email from Roger Harazim (11th of April 1999)

[37] Reid Steere, 14

[38] Rheingold, chapter 5

[39] email from Roger Harazim

[40] Karm of Nightfall was elected due to the long absence of former MUD gods.

[41] Allfather's Great Creation: http://www.nightfall.org/booklet/lore/allfather.html

[42] name of a blue land enchantment card from the fantasy-trading card-game: MAGIC. The Gathering™ (LA, Wizards of the Coast, Inc. 1997) Illustration on the card by David A. Cherry

[43] Bartle, 7

[44] Bartle, 7

[45] referring to the book "Inferno" of Dante's Divina Commedia written in 1336

[46] nightfall session log (my guide the ArchWiz Karm is: Mark Daniel Reidel)

[47] Bartle, 16

[48] Thomas Bulfinch, The Golden Age of Myth and Legend (London: Senate, 1994) 188-189

[49] Publius Ovidius Naso (Ovid), Metamorphosen, prose translation by Gerhard Fink (2-8 A.D., Frankfurt am Main: Fischer, 1998) 188

[50] Brockhaus Enzyklopädie (19th edition), vol. 14 (Mannheim: Brockhaus, 1991) 641

[51] Richard Bartle 1992 cited in: Rheingold, chapter 5

[52] Neil Postman, Technopoly (New York: Alfred Knopf, Inc. 1991 [German Transaltion, Frankfurt am Main: Fischer, 1992]) 123

[53] examine various games for Sony PlayStation™, other consoles or PC games (Final Fantasy VII, DOOM II, Tomb Raider III, Zelda)

[54] Pavel Curtis as quoted in: Reid Steere, 41

[55] nightfall log

[56] Die Edda: Götterdichtung, Spruchweisheit und Heldengesänge der Germanen / übertr. von Felix Genzmer (Codex Regius 13th century, München: Diederichs, 1981, 1997) 377

[57] nightfall log

[58] Tolkien, 206

[59] Anne McCaffrey, for instance: Dragondrums (1979, German Translation–München: Heyne 1983, 1991)

[60] Reid Steere, Appendix Two, 57

[61] for instance: http://www.mudconnector.com

[62] telnet://dawn.eos.net 3000

[63] log of Seifenblase (19th April 1999), IP: port 3333

[64] you program and save these shortened commands as intuitive abbreviations

[65] Thomas H. Johnson (ed.): The Poems of Emily Dickinson (Cambridge [MAS]: The Belknap Press, 1955) 722

[66] Turkle, 12

[67] Reid Steere, 40

[68] Bartle, 82

[69] Reid Steere, 41

[70] Reid Steere, 21

[71] Mike Prudence (player) in: Bartle 93

[72] Curtis, 6

[73] Rheingold, chapter one

[74] Carlstrom, 7

[75] Carlstom, 3

[76] Reid Steere, 40

[77] Carlstrom, 8

[78] Thyagi NagaSiva, The MUD as a Basis for Western Mysticism (1992) http://www.oise.on.ca/~jnolan/muds/about_muds/muds.as.psych

[79] Serpentelli, 8

[80] Amy Bruckman, Identity Workshop: Emergent Social and Psychological Phenomena in Text-Based Virtual Reality (MIT Media Laboratory, 1992) http://www.oise.on.ca/~jnolan/muds/about_muds/asb/identity-workshop

[81] Bruckman, 18

[82] Turkle, 21

[83] (a term coined by Rheingold and criticized by) Shawn P. Wilbur, An Archeology of Cyberspaces: Community, Virtuality, Mediation, Commerce (1995) http://ernie.bgsu.edu/~swilbur/AoCS.html

[84] Amy S. Bruckman, Gender Swapping on the Internet (Presented at The Internet Society, San Fransisco, CA, August 1993) 1-3, http://www.oise.on.ca/~jnolan/muds/about_muds/asb/gen

[85] Stacy Horn, Cyberville : Clicks, Culture, and the Creation of an Online Town (New York: Warner Books 1998) Exerpts found at: http://www.echonyc.com/~horn/excerpts.html

[86] Lauren Burka (TinyMUD player), in: Bartle, 93

[87] Pavel Curtis quoted in: Serpentelli, 12

[88] Roger Harazim, email

[89] Pavel Curtis, 5

[90] Bartle, The first case of cross-gendered MUD playing, cited in: Reid Steere, Appendix Three, 58

[91] Thomas Schmidt (Kya) from an interview in Wunderland, 9th of March 1999

[92] Reid Steere, 44

[93] Computer Mediated Communication

[94] MUD Dictionary, wysiwyg://25/http://wl.mud.de/mud/doc/misc/dictionary.html

[95] Bruckman, Identity, 2

[96] Carlstrom, 1

[97] John Unsworth, Living Inside the (Operating) System: Community in Virtual Reality (Draft 1995) 7 http://jefferson.village.virginia.edu/pmc/Virtual.Community.html

[98] Carlstrom, 1

[99] Reid Steere, 19

[100] Serpentelli, 18

[101] Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe (1719, London: Penguin Popular Classics, 1994) 75

[102] Carlstrom, 4

[103] Charles J. Stivale, 'help manners': Cyber-Democracy and its Vicissitudes (Dept. of Romance Languages and Literatures, Wayne State University 1996) 2 http://wwwpub.utdallas.edu/~cynthiah/lingua_archive/help_manners.html

[104] homepage at: http://www.mg.mud.de

[105] Reid Steere, 18

[106] Lynn Cherny, Gender Differences in Text-Based Virtual Reality (Linguistics Department / Stanford University 1994) 2 , http://www.oise.on.ca/~jnolan/muds/about_muds/gt

[107] Carlstrom, 6

[108] nightfall log

[109] gay-bi-lesbian & friends

[110] Turkle, 15

[111] Horn

[112] Reid Steere, 44

[113] Reid Steere, 44

[114] Reid Steere, 47

[115] Marty Simon, LEXX Soundtrack CD (Germany: Colosseum, 1997) Cluster Anthem

[116] Bruckman, Identity, 25 (Appendix)

[117] Turkle, Second Self, 210 (quoted in Bruckman, Identity, 19)

[118] Bartle, 95

[119] Rheingold, ch.5

[120] Curtis, 12

[121] Bartle, 92; Curtis, 12

[122] Bartle, email from 1993, in: Reid Steere, 58 (Appendix Three)

[123] Curtis in: Rheingold, ch.5

[124] Reingold, subchapter heading

[125] Serpentelli, 5

[126] Jean Baudrillard, Simulacra and Simulations, in: JB Selected Writings, Mark Poster (ed.) (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1988)

[127] Reid Steere, 47

[128] Elizabeth Reid Steere, Are MUDs Banned in Australia? (CMC Magazine, vol.1, Nr.4, August 1, 1994) 4 http://metalab.unc.edu/cmc/mag/1994/aug/muds.html

[129] Julian Dibbell, A Rape in Cyberspace (The Village Voice, Dec. 21, 1993)

[130] Turkle, Life on the Screen, 15

[131] Rheingold, ch. 1

[132] Dibbel, 10

[133] Mark Poster, The Second Media Age (Polity Press, 19962) 31

[134] mediamoo.cc.gatech.edu 8888

[135] Stivale, 1

[136] Horn

[137] Don Tapscott, Growing Up Digital – The Rise of the Net Generation (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1998) 58

[138] Stivale, 3

[139] Bruckman, Curtis, Figallo, Laurel, Approaches to Managing Deviant Behavior in Virtual Communities (Boston, Association for Computing Machinery, 1994) http://www.oise.on.ca/~jnolan/muds/about_muds/asb/dev

[140] Wes Cooper, Wizards, Toads, and Ethics – Reflections of a MOO Administrator (CMC Magazine 1 / 1996) http://www.december.com/cmc/mag/1996/jan/cooper.html

[141] Reid Steere, 50

[142] Michael R. Real, Super Media – A Cultural Studies Approach (London: Sage Publications, 1989) 20

[143] Marge Piercy, Woman on the Edge of Time (1976; New York: Fawcett Crest / Ballantine, 1991) 23

[144] Rheingold, ch. 1

[145] Bruckman, Identity, 11

[146] Rheingold, ch. 5

[147] Bruckman, Identity, 12

[148] Bartle, 97

[149] Reid Steere, 22-23

[150] for instance: David Morley and Kevin Robins, Spaces of Identity – Global Media, Electronic Landscapes and Cultural Boundaries (London and NY: Routledge 1995) 208

[151] Tapscott, 56

[152] Bruckman quoted in Rheingold, ch. 5

[153] Ray Cromwell [TinyMUD player] in: Bartle, 91

[154] Reid Steere, 50

[155] Holger Kühn, Inversions in VR and RL compared to Carnival (Oral Presentation: HU-Berlin, 1999)

[156] Reid Steere, 50

[157] for instance MediaMOO

[158] Pavel Curtis, David A. Nichols, MUDs Grow Up: Social Virtual Reality in the Real World (XeroxPARC '93) http://www.oise.on.ca/~jnolan/muds/about_muds/mudsgrowup

[159] Rémy Evard, Collaborative Networked Communication: MUDs as Systems Tools (Northeastern University 1993) http://www.ccs.neu.edu/home/remy/documents/cncmast.html

[160] orange.res.cmu.edu 4000

[161] Unsworth, 8

[162] Poster, 38

[163] Laura Miller, Women and Children First: Gender and the Settling of the Electronic Frontier, in: James Brook, Iain Boal, Resisting the Virtual Life – The Culture and Politics of Information (SF: City Lights '95) 50

[164] email from 13. April 99

[165] Poster, 40

[166] Poster, 28

[167] Postman, 127

[168] Jean Baudrillard, Viralität und Virulenz; in: Florian Rötzer (ed.), Digitaler Schein – Ästhetik der elektronischen Medien (Frankfurt am Main: Surkamp, 1991) 83-84

[169] Rheingold, Introduction

[170] Carlstrom, her essay's title

[171] Poster, 27

[172] nightfall log

[173] IF and a MUD - Interactive Fiction - 2/2/98, http://interactfiction.miningco.com/library/weekly/aa020298.htm

[174] Oughton

37 of 37 pages


Emote to the Max - A comprehensive Approach to the Construction of Identity in text-based Virtualities
Humboldt-University of Berlin
1,3 (A)
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
File size
749 KB
Deals with identity formations MUDs (Multi User Dungeons).
Emote, Approach, Construction, Identity, Virtualities, Seminar
Quote paper
David Lojek (Author), 1999, Emote to the Max - A comprehensive Approach to the Construction of Identity in text-based Virtualities, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/108029


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