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  • noun Acronym for 'Multi-User Adventure'; what MUD is. There are four terms in common use to describe MUD-like games: MUA, MUD, MU* and MUG. MUA is the most technically sound, but it suffers from being unpronounceable and its days are probably numbered; MUD predominates on the Internet, but it means that the specific game named MUD has to call itself MUD1 or MUD2 to avoid confusion; MU* is used by people who think that MUD implies a PK-heavy game whereas they themselves are peace-loving socialisers; MUG is the province of computer magazine writers who like to have words in headlines that they can make silly puns on (thankfully a dying breed). The term MUA correctly identifies such programs as being multi-user versions of the class of games called 'adventures', and as such it is the one preferred in this dictionary. Anything that is a MUAs is also a MUG, but saying MUG when you mean MUAs is sloppy as MUGs encompasses all multi-user games, ie. all games with more than one player ('Air Warrior'? 'Pong'? Chess? Soccer?). Increasingly, non-acronym terms like 'text-based virtual reality' are being floated as alternatives to MUA, but none have yet fallen into general acceptance. See MUD, MUG, IMPCG, MU*, M*.

    Historical note: the 'Dungeon' in 'Multi-User Dungeon' refers not to underground areas of incarceration, but to a program named 'Dungeon'. When MUD was named, there were two single-player games around which could be considered archetypes of the genre: 'Advent' (ie. 'Adventure', 'Colossal Caves') and 'Dungeon' (ie. 'Zork'); a third, 'HAUNT', was utter rubbish. Of these, 'Dungeon' was the better by far, so it seemed reasonable at the time to assume the whole category of such games would be called 'Dungeons'. However, as 'Advent' predated 'Zork', the term 'adventures' was adopted instead, and 'Dungeon' (as a name) forgotten. The acronym MUA is therefore closer to what MUD was intended to mean than any of the other alternatives for this species of computer game.

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23rd September 1999: mua.htm