[MUD-Dev] MUVE vs. MUD [was Re: Current Projects]

Richard Bartle 76703.3042 at compuserve.com
Sun Oct 11 16:22:57 New Zealand Daylight Time 1998

Alex Stewart <riche at crl.com> wrote:
 >(a) the term "MUD", even now, has a strong gaming stigma associated
 >with it in many people's minds
        This tends to be mainly in the minds of people who play the more
social games.
        It's as if the first cars were called "cars", and everyone knew
what was meant by a car, then a new type of car, the "limousine" came along,
and the people who drove limousines denied that their limousines were cars,
even though they really were cars, because they preferred to be kept
separate from the car-owners. In time, people who saw all the limousines
advertising themselves as limousines and definitely not cars would come to
see the car as just a thing like a limousine, but something a limousine
definitely wasn't. However, the two concepts are so similar that they really
ought to have a concept to refer to things which are both cars and
limousines, so why not call them, say, automobiles?
        Well OK, except that this gets them back to the original situation
where the limousine-drivers are being lumped together with these other
people they don't really want to be associated with, so the umbrella term
of "automobile" will gradually become marginalised by those people.
meanwhile, car-drivers continue to call their cars "cars", and use
"automobile" as a synonym.
 >and for those involved in non-gaming (social/educational/professional)
 >applications of MUD technologies this can cause problems when trying to
 >introduce their work to new people
        Only if the new people know what a MUD is. If they don't, there's
no problem; if they do, then they should know that it's a generic term for
all classes of such programs. If they don't know that, then they need to be
told; designing a new word specially for them is a slap in the face to
everyone who uses the old word.
 >(b) almost everywhere I've been besides this list, the term "MUD" is used
 >to define a much narrower set of systems and designs
        The JOMR and the MUDconnector being the only two other places?
        This narrowing of the term is often consequences of an attempt to
disassociate a particular system from the rest of the MUD world, for the
reasons of respectability you cited earlier. Unfortunately, the lasting
effects of this are a confusion as to what exactly is or isn't a MUD, and
what to call the things which, in the past, would have been called MUDs
but in the new regime aren't. Terms like MUVE are all-embracing, in that
MUDs are MUVEs, so what are those MUVEs which aren't MUDs called? Are we
going to see label wars where people who are interested in, say, counselling
or therapy try to make their system distinct from, say, armed forces
training programs or education-for-teens programs?
 >For both of these reasons, a new term often provides many benefits over
 >trying to stretch the old "MUD" term to fit.
        The "MUD" terms already fits; what needs to be stretched is the
conceit of the people who don't want to use it, to acknowledge that, yes,
these systems do have their roots in computer games, BUT THAT'S NOT
        Nevertheless, I do appreciate that this is very unlikely to happen...
 >I really don't understand why everyone seems to find the term "MUD" so
 >desirable (everybody and their dog wants their pet system to be
 >included in the term).  It's just a name.
        After 20 years of use, the term "MUD" finally made it into the
shorter Oxford English Dictionary when a completely revised new version was
published a couple of months ago. We finally get the term recognised by the
wider world, and now we dump it?
 >If taken as its original definition ("Multi User Dungeon") it's not even
 >an acronym which fits the majority of things which people are trying to
 >cram in under the heading nowadays
        Well the "Dungeon", of course, referred to the class of programs
which later came to be known as "adventures". However, to be honest, the
term was retro-fitted to the acronym. As far as I recall, the decision on
the name of the program went something like this.
        Me or Nigel Roberts:
                So what are you going to call it, Roy?
        Roy Trubshaw:
                Why MUD? Multi-user, er..?
                Oh, I don't know, there aren't all that many words beginning
                with "MU".
                How about "Dungeon", after that crappy Fortran version of
                Zork that's doing the rounds?
                Yes, OK, that'll do. It's better than Advent...
        After 20 years, my memory is a little hazy over the exact
conversation, but that's the gist of it. I suppose I could ask Roy and
Nigel what they remember, if anyone is desperately interested.
 >My feeling is, terms like these should be used to highlight important
 >distinctions, not try to lump everything into one (questionably-defined)
        The distinction is between things which are MUDs and things which
are not MUDs, like word-processors or shoot-em-ups or web browsers. Of
course there will be debate over the exact frontiers, in the same way that
people can argue as to whether CorelDraw is a word processor or whether
Tomb Raider is a shoot-em-up. Of course there will be names for
sub-divisions of the general class. However, we do need a term by which we
can refer to all the programs which, on MUD-DEV, we call MUDs. If people
from established academic disciplines wish to impose their own terms on
us, well that's something we can't stop, and which may not even be desirable
to stop anyway.
        For the moment, we do have an overarching term for MUDs, though.
You're welcome to try change it, but I and others tried for nearly 10 years
and had no discernable effect, so don't get too optimistic about your
chances of success.

More information about the MUD-Dev mailing list