[MUD-Dev] First use of "avatar"?

Nathan F. Yospe yospe at kanga.nu
Thu Dec 13 21:04:13 New Zealand Daylight Time 2001


"Koster, Raph" <rkoster at soe.sony.com> said:

> I think The Realm and ToonChat were right around the same time. I
> know that they called them "toons" in The Realm, which given its
> graphics was inevitable.

> Of course, now I am remembering that there was of course the game
> AVATAR on PLATO in the 70s.

And of course, with the Meta thread now running around, everyone has
the clue about google groups.  I started combing yesterday.  Guess
what that effort turned up?

There's more than what I'm posting.  net.games.frp had common use of
the term Avatar for god-inhabited, which suggests that the use in
MMOGs does derive from the hindu word, but through drifting
references in small and marginally related subcultures.  No doubt
both Farmer and Stephenson had heard it in some context related to
RPGs and subconciously locked in the new meaning, perhaps not quite
what the person saying it had intended.

Then again, Stephenson is a historian, at least in mind, so may have
not heard it in any context but Hinduism.

I'm also very disturbed to see a guy that, aside from his name,
would've had to have been me, posting at a date when I was in the
third grade and figuring out how to hack Apple][ video in BASIC.

I'm certain I hadn't heard of usenet until the 90s.

But there he is, Fermi resident, frp poster, all text justified
exactly, though his is 65 and I think most of mine have been either
72 or 75, and he writes... well, I swear it reads like I wrote it,
down to the type of grammatical structure and choices of words.

I wonder what this guy's like today, and will I become him in ten
years?

But back to the topic...

First possible use of Avatar for character in an RPG:

  <http://groups.google.com/groups?hl=en&selm=2400063%40uokvax.UUCP>

First mention of AVATAR: 

  <http://groups.google.com/groups?hl=en&selm=17100001%40uicsg.UUCP>

First definition of Avatar (hindu):

  <http://groups.google.com/groups?hl=en&selm=bnews.unc.4996>

--- Quoting Each, as old listings seem unstable still ---

--- Minor Formatting to fit 72 character comfort zone ---

--- Avatar, possibly, as word for D&D character:

  Relay-Version: version B 2.10 5/3/83; site utzoo.UUCP
  Posting-Version: Notesfiles; site uokvax.UUCP
  From: lmaher at uokvax.UUCP
  Newsgroups: net.games.frp
  Subject: Evil Character: Taira, Part I - (nf)
  Message-ID: <2400063 at uokvax.UUCP>
  Date: Fri, 7-Sep-84 08:44:00 EDT
  Article-I.D.: uokvax.2400063
  Posted: Fri Sep  7 08:44:00 1984
  Date-Received: Thu, 13-Sep-84 08:08:35 EDT
  Lines: 302
  Nf-ID: #N:uokvax:2400063:000:11287
  Nf-From: uokvax!lmaher    Sep  7 07:44:00 1984

  #N:uokvax:2400063:000:11287
  uokvax!lmaher    Sep  7 07:44:00 1984

  This is the first of two articles describing a powerful evil
  character for AD&D.  This article gives the AD&D stats, and the
  next one gives the character's history and followers.

  I was going to post The Avatar With No Name, but after checking I
  saw she had far more than 3 Mep, and I didn't want to convert her
  from my streamlined D&D variant into AD&D.  So I just created an
  evil character from scratch.  If you play rigid AD&D you might
  question the alignment, but the justification is in the
  background. I'm assuming every alignment extreme has Paladins
  otherwise why haven't the LGs conquered the world?  If you can't
  handle that idea, just delete the offending classes, and add the
  extra experience to Illusionist.  I also switched a point of
  Constitution to Strength.  If it bothers you, tear out my heart
  and feed it to a demon.  Taira would.


	TAIRA OF THE THOUSAND NAMES

  <No need to post the rest, not relevant...>

--- Avatar, the game ---

  Relay-Version: version B 2.10 5/3/83; site utzoo.UUCP
  Posting-Version: Notesfiles; site uicsg.UUCP
  From: mzp at uicsg.UUCP
  Newsgroups: net.games.rogue
  Subject: Re: How about Multiplayer Rogue? - (nf)
  Message-ID: <17100001 at uicsg.UUCP>
  Date: Thu, 19-Apr-84 22:26:00 EST
  Article-I.D.: uicsg.17100001
  Posted: Thu Apr 19 22:26:00 1984
  Date-Received: Sat, 21-Apr-84 01:15:17 EST
  References: <1194 at sdccs7.UUCP>
  Lines: 26
  Nf-ID: #R:sdccs7:-119400:uicsg:17100001:000:1401
  Nf-From: uicsg!mzp    Apr 19 21:26:00 1984

  #R:sdccs7:-119400:uicsg:17100001:000:1401
  uicsg!mzp    Apr 19 21:26:00 1984

  [----]

  There is a game on the CERL PLATO system here called 'avatar,'
  which cannot be easily described here.  It is the closest thing to
  real D&D that I have ever seen.  Inter-player communication is
  fully supported anywhere, and items and gold may be exchanged when
  both characters are in the same location.

  The dungeon automatically repopulates with monsters every 15
  minutes or so, and there are 15 square levels 30x30 each.  There
  are a huge number of magic items, monsters, and spells that can be
  cast.  You can run in groups or individually, something that
  especially makes sense because players can have different classes
  and alignments.  Dead players can be carried back up to the
  morgue, where a fee must be paid for a raise (lost of
  consititution stat).

  Stud characters can cast 'resurrect.'  An interesting feature is
  that you can be 'quested' for a monster or item, which means that
  you are required to defeat that monster or find that item to make
  level. Unfortunately, avatar took several people (3 or 4) a few
  years to fully develop, and you will probably not find anyone
  other than students to do such a thing.

  Avatar also uses graphics (512x512) to display the view down the
  hallway and to display the monsters.  It would be difficult to do
  something effective with 24x80 terminals.

  Mark Papamarcos			ihnp4!uiucdcs!uicsg!mzp
  "DING!  Good answer!  Show me, 'commie pinko liberal.'"

--- Avatar, the original meaning ---

  Message-ID: <bnews.unc.4996>
  Newsgroups: net.religion
  X-Path: utzoo!decvax!duke!unc!tim
  From: unc!tim
  Date: Mon Apr 18 07:44:50 1983
  Subject: Re: testing claims responses
  References: <bnews.tektroni.1055>
  X-Google-Info: Converted from the original B-News header
  Posted: Sat Apr 16 15:28:30 1983
  Received: Mon Apr 18 07:44:50 1983


    Reply to Bob Bales.

  What is unique to Christianity is the claim that God, as distinct
  from a prophet or a good man, lived as a man on earth. And, most
  importantly, Christianity and Judaism represent God's attempt to
  reach man while other religions represent mans' attempt to reach
  God.

    Ever hear of a small and insignificant religion called Hinduism,
    Bob? Only a few hundred million adherents. Virtually all the
    gods in this pantheon have avatars (and all the major ones
    do). An avatar is a god born on Earth as a human. It's a very
    common concept. (There are also elements of this in Buddhism,
    but they are clearly Hindu borrowings.) Why do you cling to this
    weird notion that Christianity is unique?

  To some, the sureness that comes from having put the claims of
  Christianity to the test seems to be offensive arrogance. It is
  not meant that way. Don't believe in Christianity because I, or
  anyone else on or off the net, says to. Test it for yourself!

    I have often noted in Christians that they will attempt to get
    away with some otherwise offensive verbal utterance by claiming
    that it really isn't what it is. For instance, "I don't mean to
    seem holier-than-thou, but you're going to Hell while I sonbathe
    in Heaven."  The fact that you claim you don't mean arrogance
    deliberately doesn't mean that it isn't there. It is incredibly
    arrogant to say that your experiuences with a small subset of a
    field qualify you as an expert on the entirety. It's as if
    someone were to master TRS-80 BASIC and then claim to know
    everything worth knowing about computer languages.

  Tim Maroney
--- End quotes ---

--

Nathan F. Yospe - Physicist, Artist, Programmer, Writer, JOAT with a SAK


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