the social space of muds

is an oxymoron, right? Maybe I should call this the social space of text games, but…I don’t know.

I’m bringing this up after reading a Matthew Stadler essay at the new Rosa B. (thanks to if:book for the link), a French/English magazine whose layout seems at first quite psychotic — no, perhaps psychedelic, but I grew to like it.

Later in the night after reading the Stadler I read Ursula K. LeGuin’s recent piece in Harper’s. Both this interview of Stadler and LeGuin’s essay rest in part on the social space of art — reading, and discussion.

Looking at muds, here you have a somewhat unique phenomena — people reading collectively, synchronously. And talking about it, maybe not directly, but around it, through it. The pre-existing text is not a novel or a single story, it is a series of points on this graph of experience. Why call it a narrative? For that matter why call it an experience? Is this a fundamental difference between text muds and graphical muds — the social space of reading occurs simultaneously with the text itself. How is this different from the social space of play occurring simultaneously with play in WoW? Is someone who plays WoW out there?

Digressing a bit, I am constantly amazed to discover these new continents of text gaming — does Jove, Digichat, or SEAchat ring a bell for anyone? They didn’t for me until a day ago. And the constant refrain in the mudding community — are text games dead? How can you tell if you never knew who were the living?.


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