Book-Published Articles Hat

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.
Mortar Board Compute!'s Guide to Adventure Games
McGath, G.
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!)
Mortar Board Interactive Fiction and Computers
Goetz, P.
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 later article.
Oh, I ought to mention that for issue 1, Interactive Fantasy was called Inter*action. You can see why they changed it...
Mortar Board Multi-User Dungeons
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 fantasy.
Mortar Board On the Vocabulary of Role-Playing
Masters, P.
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 paper).
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.
Mortar Board Leaping into Cross-Gender Role-Play
Antunes, S.
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, Sandy Antunes, but then again I don't actually want to.
Mortar Board Literary Role-Play in Cyberspace
Goetz, P.
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, GarouMUSH, and waxes lyrical over how this really is an incredible and original experience.
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 Imaginary Realities. The editor asked me for permission to reproduce the original, but I declined, pointing out that I wasn't its author...
Mortar Board The Pearly Gates of Cyberspace
Wertheim, M.
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 which aren't.
The world exists in the mind; the physical world only provides the hardware.
Mortar Board Envisioning Cyberspace
Anders, P.
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.

Copyright © Richard A. Bartle (
16th June 2000: bpublish.htm