"Serious" Uses of MUDS?

Are MUDs useful for "serious" purposes? Or are they "just games"? Are people exploring the "serious" uses of MUDs pioneering the future of cyberspace, or are they having fun and calling it work? Is there a serious side to the future of cyberspace? Does cyberspace challenge us to redefine the boundaries between work and play, fantasy and reality?

The term "MUD" stands for "Multi User Dungeon." The origins of MUD technology are firmly in the world of games. In the late 1970s, two independent groups of people decided that text-based adventure games would be more fun if multiple participants could connect over the new Arpanet. Alan Klietz developed "Sceptre of Goth," and Roy Trubshaw and Richard Bartle developed "MUD1." People from all over the world could join adventuring parties together, slaying monsters and finding treasure.

In 1989, a graduate student at Carnegie Mellon University named James Aspnes decided to see what would happen if the monsters and magic swords were removed. Since Aspnes simplified existing systems by removing many dungeons and dragons features, he called his new system "TinyMUD." Authors of the MUD servers LPMUD and MUSH included programming languages so that users could extend the world, creating new objects and places.


Amy Bruckman (organizer) , Jon Callas , Pavel Curtis , Remy Evard , David Van Buren , Mitchel Resnick (moderator)


Bruckman, Amy (1994). "'Serious' Uses of MUDs?" Proceedings of DIAC94. Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility.