Articles or chapters on MUDs and MUD-related matters, extracted from books.
All these have been scanned from the original copies in my possession. Note
that some books contain further material which may be of interest to MUD
researchers, but I have presented only the most pertinent: this is so as
not to risk violating the UK's copyright regulations.
Compute!'s Guide to Adventure Games
Chapter 9: How They Work, pages 119 to 136,
Compute! Publications Inc., 1984.
Compute! produced several spin-offs from
the magazine itself, and this book is one of them. It's
a very good piece of work describing many aspects of
adventure games, appearing just as they were reaching
their peak prior to their sudden and ignominious fall.
This chapter explains how to write such games, and
although it is in a single-player context only (the
author had never heard of MUDs, and doesn't even mention
their like as something for the future), it does describe
many basic concepts which fledgling MUD programmers should
know - even if they're not going to use them.
Other chapters of the book worth a look are: the opening
one on the history of adventures; chapter 8 on how to play
them (its advice is still good for most MUDs); chapter 10,
demonstrating how to write a game using pseudocode (which looks like
some of the interpreted code in some modern MUDs); chapter 12,
detailing what advances we can expect for adventures in the
future (a salutary lesson for people who write such predictions
these days for MUDs!)
Interactive Fiction and Computers
Interactive Fantasy 1, pages 98 to 115,
Crashing Boar Books, 1994.
Interactive Fantasy was (and may still be,
but they haven't published anything since 1995)
a professional-quality series of paperbacks concerning all
aspects of serious rôle-play. When I say "serious",
I mean it, too: these are by the intelligensia of RPGs, and they
go into a depth you simply never, ever see elsewhere. This
essay by Phil Goetz
looks into the way that rôle-playing relates to computers,
concerning the freedoms and restrictions on playing games that
way. It does mention multi-player games, although it considers
them to be just extensions of Zork, an oversight
the author was to correct in spades in a
Oh, I ought to mention that for issue 1, Interactive
Fantasy was called Inter*action. You can
see why they changed it...
Cox, A. and Campbell, M.
Interactive Fantasy 2, pages 15 to 20,
Hogshead Publishing, 1994.
A very lucid introduction to MUDs, their history, and
the various approaches they take to interactive
On the Vocabulary of Role-Playing
Interactive Fantasy 2, pages 57 to 74,
Hogshead Publishing, 1994.
An attempt to provide a common vocabulary so that
people interested in different aspects of interactive
fantasy can talk without ambiguity. Actually, it's
more of an illustration that they can't, a fact that
the author cheerfully acknowledges! A good portion of
it goes in describing player types, which might benefit
from more detailed analysis (such as that I did for MUDs in
my Hearts, Clubs, Diamonds, Spades
The references to MUDs are rather confused. The author
clearly has no idea where the "Dungeon"
component came from, and seems to think that at some
point they blur with play-by-email games. Nevertheless,
it's a valiant attempt at bringing together what people
say and figuring out what they mean by it.
Leaping into Cross-Gender Role-Play
Interactive Fantasy 3, pages 62 to 67,
Hogshead Publishing, 1995.
An astonishing article: it takes the position that
cross-gender rôle-play is, in principle, no different to any other
kind of significant-shift rôle-play, like
cross-species or cross-time, and it states its case
exceptionally well. I'm so used to reading papers that
try to read something special into all cross-gender play
(there may be something special sometimes, I
hasten to add)
that this one came like a breath of fresh air.
I like to think that the reason cross-gender playing
is not stigmatised in MUDs is, in part, due to the manner in
which I introduced the concept in MUD1; because
I saw it as the main barrier which needed to be overcome to
allow people to experiment with different selves,
I planned my strategy in advance to ensure that it would
be both acceptable and natural.
This article goes some way to justifying my
hopes that cross-gender playing is not entirely the domain
of one-handed typists...
I don't know the gender of the author,
but then again I don't actually want to.
Literary Role-Play in Cyberspace
Interactive Fantasy 4, pages 32 to 44,
Hogshead Publishing, 1995.
In his earlier article, the
author didn't really give MUDs more than a superficial
mention. Here, he goes into deep, deep discussion on how
they can be used for highly literate rôle-play.
He chooses one particular MUD,
and waxes lyrical over how this really is an incredible and
Although I agree with many of his points, and
accept that there are people who do relish this
kind of activity, I still regard it as too
distant: the greater experience is in
living a game, rather than
relating how you'd live it. The
environment he describes is too oppressive for
my tastes, as well, although I realise that many
people like their rôle-play constrained.
Perhaps the most potent reason for taking a
more objective view of this kind of play,
though, is the fact that the supposedly
marvellous literary-quality writing it engenders
isn't actually all that good, if the logs he
shows us are anything to go by.
Note: there's a vaguely updated version of this in
the June 2000
Realities. The editor asked me for permission
to reproduce the original, but I declined, pointing
out that I wasn't its author...
The Pearly Gates of Cyberspace
Chapter 6: Cyberspace, pages 221 to 250,
Virago Press, 1999.
This is essentially a philosophical book,
which tries to demonstrate a congruence
between the view that medieval Christians
had of the real and spiritual worlds, and
the relationship that Westerners perceive
between the real world and cyberspace today.
As you might expect, much of it seems to be
an exercise in touching on as many disparate
subjects as possible and bringing them into
one scholarly whole, but it manages to keep
this more or less under control.
This penultimate chapter describes cyberspace,
in particular MUDs, as "places"
where the mind can go, Although there are
some minor errors (MUD1 was not
based on Dungeons & Dragons,
and the author's idea of what a "space"
is rather lacks scientific rigour), they're not
too important. It's refreshingly positive about
the subject, though, until the end when the
author's preconceptions get the better of her
and she breaks into a tirade against the
suggestion that virtual worlds are on the same
footing as real ones, unfortunately without much to support
the argument except repeated statements which
she apparently believes are self-evident but
The world exists in the mind;
the physical world only provides the hardware.
Chapters 12 to 14: MUDs: Cyberspace Communities;
MUD Spatial Structure; Merging Physical and Mediated
Realities, pages 137 to 175,
McGraw Hill, 1999.
These chapters are the most MUD-pertinent from a
thoroughly excellent book, which takes the
"space" in "cyberspace" to heart
and examines the issue of designing virtual worlds
from what amounts to an architectural standpoint.
There's much more in the text of interest to serious
designers of MUDs; if these three chapters whet
your appetite, go out and buy it. Warning:
it's printed in blue ink.