Do you or have you played MUDs?

Maren and I are giving a presentation on computer games for librarians next week “Bibliotekdagene i Bergen”.

LambdaMOO mapWe’re both super honored to be asked – as we both consider librarians to be the coolest professionals around. We worked on our outline last weekend and I’m very excited. I think we’ve come up with a presentation recipe that’s going to be a big success. I’m worried that we’re cramming too much in, but I have faith that our structure will allow for it. So we’ll be talking a little about the history of computer games from hacker culture to consumer culture. We both felt it was important for us to focus a bit on computer game genre and all that it entails. And the icing will be a bit of fan culture. I’ll translate and share here later.

But for now I’m in need of some help. I want to at least briefly touch on the subject of MUDs to MMORPGs – text based worlds to graphical worlds. And I want some good text avatars. I thought I had several but after tearing my bookshelf apart (yes – I have no order) I can only find one, which is that of Mr. Bungle in LambdaMOO: ” a fat, oleaginous, Bisquick-faced clown dressed in cum – stained harlequin garb and girdled with a mistletoe-and-hemlock belt whose buckle bore the quaint inscription “KISS ME UNDER THIS, BITCH”. And I’m thinking …. nawww … there must be something a little nicer. I want colorful definitely, but not this grim and dirty. So I’m asking – do you know of any text avatars I can use? Do you have a favorite? I would also love some good room descriptions and any fond memories you have!

And while we’re on the subject. Do you know of any MUDs/MOOs still alive? I ask because I have a sneaky feeling that text based games are on their way back. Just looking at Causal Gameplay Design Competition.

Socialising through interests

I remember back in 1999 I tried becoming a member of The Well. I had to list a few things that interested me and wanted to ‘discuss’ – being a young student who had just been introduced to new ways of thinking, I registered that I was interested in conspiracy theories. I wanted to register something that I could get into heavy discussions about because that’s what The Well is all about – discussions – and I thought that I had plenty to say about the subject. Boy was I wrong! I got a few messages inviting me to join discussions and they were all filled with dreadful warning language like “You better be interested and not one of those fools who just sit and discuss conspiracy theories for fun!”. I never did join any of those discussion groups, they were all just a tad too serious for me and I ended up not renewing my The Well subscription because I just couldn’t figure out what I wanted to talk about. Everyone was so extremely serious about their subjects of interest and I was just there trying desperately to become a member of an online community and I felt like a fool because there was not one particular subject I felt qualified enough to be a part of.

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The Guardian has a great article on griefers and the evolving community counter measures to tackle them.

I think it’s interesting how the journalist brings up 2 examples of ‘griefing’ that have caused the debate about gaming ethics (although it’s a discussion that’s been going on forever – at least since the LambdaMoo days).
The first is the EVE Online incident where a group calling themselves the Guiding Hand Social Club, cunningly infiltrated the Ubiqua Seraph corporation and basically ruined them! They worked on this for over a year! I first heard about this after watching one of the State of Play III debates, where Dr. Kjartan Pierre Emilsson brought this up as an example of how sometimes developers just have to shrug and say “Hey! It’s all part of the gameplay!”. I remember being so amused and uttering a little ‘Yay!’. The debate harrowed in the community, however.
The second example, is ofcourse when World Of Warcraft mourners (mourning the death of a real life player in WoW) were completely ambushed by a rival guild. Which was ofcourse seen as disrespectful and awful.
But these two examples are not griefing incidents, in my opinion! And we can’t start punishing players for how they’re playing the game. I mean most of these outcries are like children screaming “BUT IT’S SOOOO UNFAIR!”. It reminds me a lot about my life at the moment. I’m moaning and groaning about my thesis and my friends and family are hitting back with “For crying out loud, Linn! Will you please just get over yourself and finish the goddamn thing! Stop taking yourself so bloody seriously!” – the analogy here is me being the screaming child and my friends being the ‘griefers’! My point is….thank God for ‘griefers’!!!! Sometimes it’s good to have players come along and take the piss of those taking the game way too seriously! Which, in my opinion, doesn’t make them griefers at all!!! So what are griefers? I would call advanced players living off of stealing and hassling new players, griefers – but why? They’re still playing the game, are they not? I’m rambling here, sorry about that – it’s just that I feel we really need to define what griefing is before we start making executive decisions about who’s playing the game the right way and who’s not. I don’t believe that anyone should be punished for these two ‘griefing’ examples, but others may disagree.
So who gets to decide what griefing is and what actions are offensive enough to merit punishment? Who should decide? Game masters or democraticly organised groups? Community or an authoritative power?

I’m gonna leave you with these questions which have so often been thrust at you in this blog – and promise to come back with some reflections on what works and why tomorrow! It’s about time, right?!!

2 New Games Worth Keeping An Eye On

BUD – “A lightweight passively multiplayer online game where your data is your playfield”

I’m not certain I understand the gaming element in this or even the fun factor but it certianly is interesting.

“ is an experiment to turn our personal data trails into a playfield for a web-based massively-multiplayer online game. Call it passively multiplayer – the reality of communication networks. Already, Web 2.0 and social networking sites keep track of our relationships and communications. proposes to make that web more engaging through surveillance with non-threatening stakes: browser-based multiplayer play.

Honestly, I still like to be in control of what information I share with my networks – this sounds kinda scary and I’m sure my surfing would become more tactical than the freedom of my own curiosity. But it certainly is an interesting concept – and I’ll be eagerly following his progress!


PlayByWiki – the pen is the sword

Yes! It’s a Role Playing Game using Wiki! Looks really interesting! And to be honest I’m thinking this is more of a collaborative story telling than a game! Oh how those definitions are blurring my mind! It looks great! What a truely interesting concept!