OPENING SCREEN

Philosophers and postmodernist critics discuss the way humans communicate, engineers and computer systems designers create ever- integrable networking capabilities and work to improve human- computer interfaces, but at the crossroads, people are playing games. While the philosophers and engineers sleep, the MUDers are at their computers, hour after hour, playing in the cyberspace. In Multiple-User Dungeons/Dimensions (MUDs), text-based virtual realities accessible via Internet, thousands of people share fantasy space, or "live" electronically. They walk and talk, build and destroy, hug and have sex while sitting at isolated computer terminals scattered throughout the world.

Their activities, if considered out of the context of the computer network, are certainly not unusual. In a sense, the kinds of socialization taking place on MUDs represent the simplest and most mundane of human interactions. What is interesting about MUD life, and what MUDers seem sometimes to forget, is that these "events" take place without their physical counterparts. Outsiders are quick to point out that nothing "happens" on these computer games, and look upon this growing subculture with a derision and sense of deviance. These addicted computer users, some of whom profess to play for tens of hours a day, may not agree. These textual environments, as innovative applications of computing and networking technologies, provide new and powerful ways for humans to express themselves.