This research should be read by social game developers. Four approaches to playing MUDs are identified and described. These approaches may arise from the inter-relationship of two dimensions of playing style: action versus interaction, and world-oriented versus player-oriented. An account of the dynamics of player populations is given in terms of these dimensions, with particular attention to how to promote balance or equilibrium. This analysis also offers an explanation for the labelling of MUDs as being either “social” or “gamelike”.
The four things that people typically enjoyed personally about MUDs* were:
i) Achievement within the game context
Players give themselves game-related goals, and vigorously set out to achieve them. This usually means accumulating and disposing of large quantities of high-value treasure, or cutting a swathe through hordes of mobiles (ie. monsters built in to the virtual world).
Achievers say things like:
“Sure, I’ll help you. What do I get?”
“So how do YOU kill the dragon, then?”
“Only 4211 points to go!”
ii) Exploration of the game
Players try to find out as much as they can about the virtual world. Although initially this means mapping its topology (ie. exploring the MUD’s breadth), later it advances to experimentation with its physics (ie. exploring the MUD’s depth).
Explorers say things like:
“You mean you don’t know the shortest route from <obscure
room 1> to <obscure room 2>?”
“I haven’t tried that one, what’s it do?”
“Why is it that if you carry the uranium you get radiation
sickness, and if you put it in a bag you still get it, but if
you put it in a bag and drop it then wait 20 seconds and pick it
up again, you don’t?”
iii) Socialising with others
Players use the game’s communicative facilities, and apply the role-playing that these engender, as a context in which to converse (and otherwise interact) with their fellow players.
Socialisers say things like:
“Yeah, well, I’m having trouble with my boyfriend.”
“What happened? I missed it, I was talking.”
“Really? Oh no! Gee, that’s terrible! Are you sure? Awful, just
iv) Imposition upon others
Players use the tools provided by the game to cause distress to (or, in rare circumstances, to help) other players. Where permitted, this usually involves acquiring some weapon and applying it enthusiastically to the persona of another player in the game world.
Killers says things like:
“Die! Die! Die!”
A MUD ( /ˈmʌd/; originally Multi-User Dungeon, with later variants Multi-User Dimension and Multi-User Domain), is a multiplayer real-time virtual world, usually text-based. MUDs combine elements of role-playing games, hack and slash, player versus player, interactive fiction, and online chat. Players can read or view descriptions of rooms, objects, other players, non-player characters, and actions performed in the virtual world. Players typically interact with each other and the world by typing commands that resemble a natural language.