MUDs constantly remind you of the computer-driven environment. The computer language that is required to navigate through the text world and the ability to author as well as read, keeps players at a critical distance as they experience the virtual world.

When characters are writing their own experiences, language gains a strange exchange between transparency and opacity. Players are both drawn in by others' written expression, and must step back and compose their own textual response, paying strict attentions to syntax and format:

It compels us to reconsider the relationship between the text and the world to which the text refers. In the world of print, the ideal was to make a text transparent, so that the reader looked through the text to the world beyond. This was the goal of realistic painting as well as the traditional novel . . . In a digital rhetoric, transparency is not the only virtue. The reader can be made to focus on the verbal patterns, on the text as a texture of elements. The text can be transparent or opaque, and it can oscillate between transparency and opacity, between asking the reader to look through the text to the "world beyond" and asking him or her to look at the text itself as a formal structure (Bolter, 167). Even once players become ultra-familiar with the language of MUD (so that it becomes second-nature) the computer environment will not allow full transparency. Intermittent system maintenance on the home server or the network at large causes delays and interruptions that effect every character on the MUD. These events, such as the lag, or the time between when the command is entered and when it is executed, can be so severe that players comment upon the lag like people complain about the weather. 'The lag is so bad today' characters often rant. This event reminds all players that they are not walking around in a fantasy world, but sitting in a room typing at a computer. Even regular system maintenance like updating the database can cause disturbances that characters (and players) cannot ignore:

## Game will pause to save changed objects in two minutes. ##

## Saving changed objects ##

## Save complete. ##

Bill_T_Cat thinks the save was a religious experience!

Snow bounces out of the save!

In a way, players don't want to fully enter this fictional world. One major benefit of MUD is that it is a fictional place populated by real people. If the same delays existed in a computer game where the player acted against the machine, few would bother playing. On MUDs, players put up with system delays and other setbacks to keep their connection with others out there on the Net.