Network-based virtual realities are now coming of age, largely populated by students seeking an enriched environment for exploration, discovery, and creative expression. Virtual communities emerge with imaginative interactive adventures and puzzles. The science content of such worlds can profitably be enriched by the active participation of the education community.
– Barry Kort, 51 Reasons to Invest in the National Information Infrastructure, BBN Labs, 1990.
MUD’s leverage many of the key features of the Internet. Key features specific to MUD’s include instantiation of a virtual space, and dynamic extensibility:
- Virtual space. MUD’s constitute a completely virtual space, but one that exists almost entirely in each user’s mind. A MUD may take place in a house, park, underground complex, forest, or other area, and include realistic attributes like doorways, running water, objects to be carried around, and other characters, all of which are virtual, and exist entirely in your imagination. This is a powerful idea, enabling people to use the Internet to interact with other real people in a common virtual space.
- Extensibility. The first MUD to provide extensibility was LPMUD, providing senior members of the game called wizards the ability to create new places, objects, and behaviours that were available to the other players in real time. Many MUD’s are now extendible, enabling users to build onto the virtual space they explore. One might add a door to a hallway leading to a new room. You could gain the ability to fly across a river by reciting a few key words. The empowerment of users to extend their virtual space in real-time adds a powerful and dynamic capability that further distinguishes the MUD conceptual space from physical reality.