Published newspaper and professional articles on MUDs and MUD-related
matters. All these have been scanned from the original copies in my
Essex County Standard, page 22,
8th June, 1984.
County Standard runs a section
called "Neighbourhood News", whereby local
correspondents from small towns and villages write up
anything remotely of interest which has happened there.
Essex University has a column, which it uses primarily
to show what an amazingly good place it is. Only when
it has run out of news concerning research grants,
fellowships, visiting professors, sports successes and
cleaners retiring after 20 years of dedicated work does it
resort to mentioning student activities. There
must have been a real dearth of academic good
news this particular week, but see also the
Danger - micros can damage your marriage
You: The Mail on Sunday Magazine, pages 42 and 43,
21st October, 1984.
A populist piece of writing pandering to
common prejudices held by readers of
The Mail on Sunday. Superficial,
but nevertheless a surprisingly good early
piece on the subject of computer addiction.
It was rather shot out of the water by Shotton's book of
several years later, though... MUD1
gets a mention, with me held up as an example of
an archetypal computer addict as a consequence (sigh).
Jez San is quoted, too, although this was in the
days when he was still making the transition to
"Jez" from "Jeremy", so he
probably won't thank me for pointing this
Firbank later went on to work for CompuNet, who
ran the first commercial version of
MUD1. These days, she is regularly
consulted by newspapers such as The Sun
when they need a quick psychological opinion on some
public figure based on some recent example of observed
Academics play with Dungeons and Dragons
Datalink, pages 32 and 3,
29th October, 1984.
An attempt to give some academic respectability to
MUD by a veteran journalist who saw its
potential; sadly (but not entirely unexpectedly) it
didn't work. The fact that it could have brought money as
well as name recognition to the Department of Computer
Science at Essex University was irrelevant: what mattered
was what the peer group of other university computing
departments would make of it (answer: not much).
There's a cartoon
that goes with this article, too, although it
appeared some 29 pages before the article
itself so may have confused some readers...
Chatting up total strangers at home
The Times, page 26,
13th November, 1984.
Yes, I've been in The Times. This is quite
a good article, given the subject matter and the
location ("'Computer games?' And what are these,
'computer games'?"). The title was probably sensational
enough to make it acceptable to the science editor. It
emphasises the money-making potential of the game, but
notes that it's not going to be great while telephone
charges in the UK are high. Damn these perceptive
There's an accompanying photograph
of me leaning on a DM3000 terminal showing one of about
6 "graphics" I put into MUD to
represent maps (I didn't put in more because they players
didn't like them - ha!).
Playing with MUD helps ai research
Computing: The Magazine, pages 18 and 19,
22nd November, 1984.
Being a veteran journalist, Phil Manchester
likes to squeeze as much juice from a story as he
can... This article is basically a reworking of the
earlier Datalink one,
and is not entirely dissimilar to the one in
The Times, either...
Still, as they were all favourable, I'm not complaining!
There's a B&W photograph of
me with my beloved moustache included. I'm
sitting next to my colleague,
Steel. Sam never played
a second of MUD in his life, which is why he
insisted his face was not toward the camera (out of
honesty, rather than shame, I hasten to add!).
The Economist, page 88,
23rd February, 1985.
This is a fairly short article, but the fact
that it appeared in a well-respected
publication means it probably had more
influence than its length would suggest.
It contains a number of minor inaccuracies
(it seems to imply that the CompuNet
MUD ran on Essex University's
DEC-10, for example), but it isn't seriously
I believe the author may have been Jane
Firbank, but the article carries no bye-line
so I can't tell.
Fast lane thrills on computer
Essex County Standard/, pages 36 and 37,
20th May, 1988.
An embarrassingly enthusiastic article. The
journalist who interviewed me made the usual number
of small errors (Roy's surname is "Thrubshaw",
for example), but there's nothing life-threateningly
wrong. The article coincided with the release of the
single-player version of MUD1, which was
a nice piece of work but came out too late to sell; by
1988, the demise of the text adventure was almost
The text was juxtaposed with a large photograph
of me seated at my Atari Mega ST4 ("4" because it had 4mb of RAM)
and the old Apricot FX20 ("20" because it had 20mb of hard
drive) that I used as a terminal for it. I'm wearing one
of the BT MUD sweatshirts: someone had to...
Fed up with dragons
Davy, J. and Ho, S.
The Observer, page 32,
13th August, 1989.
This is a light review of
Federation II, with a
few quotes from Alan Lenton, its author. The
game had just been launched at the time, and much was made of
the fact that it was Science Fiction in nature rather than
Fantasy (hence the title). Unusually, they manage to spell
Roy Trubshaw's surname correctly, but get
his first name wrong...
I'm not really sure of what the second-named writer of the
article is called, because my original cutting looks suspiciously
like there may be another letter after the "Ho" which
didn't make it to the right side of the scissors...
There's an unflattering photograph of
Alan which accompanies the piece.
In the Jungle of MUD
Time, page 61,
13th Septermber, 1993.
A very influential article, which brought MUDs
into the mainstream. The journalist actually
seems to have done her research, and other
than the oft-quoted falsehood that Australia
banned MUDs, the only other quibble I have is
that the first MUD was not written so we could
play Dungeons & Dragons - if
we'd have wanted to play it, we would just have
played it (as, occasionally, we did).
Join me now in
the multi-user dungeon
Daily Telegraph, Weekend, page 35,
5th October, 1996.
Although he is now the
Telegraph's computer games correspondent,
is perhaps better known as one half of the
duo (the other was Ian Livingstone) who
wrote the Fighting Fantasy novels
beginning in 1982: at one time, they were the best-selling
authors in the UK. Their company,
got wind of MUD and the two visited Essex
University one evening to try it out. Although they liked
the game very much, the cost of a DEC-10 was a little
beyond their budget at the time, but they wished us
well. When Meridian 59
was launched in mid-1996, Steve got in touch with me again
to find out what I thought about it; this article was
A large B&W photograph of
me accompanies the text, in which I have a huge
stack of ancient lineprinter paper resting on my
knees. I think I look a little pale, though,
especially my eyebrows (!).
Computer Trade Weekly, page 21,
17th November, 1997.
This write-up, in the UK computer games industry
trade paper, concerns the Online
Entertainment 97 conference. The author
seems to take a rather cynical view of the
whole industry, but I suppose he does have
a point: the only people who were making
pots of money from online games at the
time either didn't turn up, or turned up
then disappeared before anyone could
Mind game in the
The Guardian, page 21,
28th January, 1999.
This was the leading article in that Thursday's
online section of The
Guardian. It's objective
and gives us a fair hearing. Although it was
prompted by the publication of Julian
My Tiny Life, at its core was an
extensive interview which Jim McClellan
conducted with me over the phone.
Although the article itself is good, we
didn't get any new players as a result of it,
as far as I know. This may have been because
it was accompanied by an horrendous
photograph of Roy and I, taken at Essex University
with the Computing Department in the
background. It looked quite good in colour
when we were shown it on the phtographer's
digital camera, but in B&W Roy looks like an
entrant in an Oliver Hardy lookalike competition
and I appear to have aged 30 years...