You MOOs, you lose? Not really.


Reading Dibbel’s, A Rape in Cyberspace was actually a wierdly nostalgic experience. I used to dabble in the text-based network about 8-10 years ago, way back when the concept of multi-user collaboration and interaction in a virtual reality environment still seemed like a semi-new and exciting idea. Although my time on LambdaMOO was basically rape-free, I still fully experienced the network and the society that evolved within it. As I commented on Michael’s response, the whole concept of LambdaMOO seemed like a highly-evolved, interactive and electronic version of the Choose Your Own Adventure book series. What was most fascinating to me about the network was the fact that in many ways it was more immersive than most role playing games of the time. Not only was it a multiplayer game, but the fact that it was text-based meant that all pictures and visuals were self-established instead of universal. This could easily be compared to the relationship between a book and the movie production of the book.

Even at the time I was using it, the MUD seemed archaic in comparison to 3D computer games, first person shooters and any game on the PS2 or N64 platforms, but this never deterred me. The game and even its concept seemed like some strange remnant of the past– a historic landmark left untouched in a rapidly changing and evolving electronic world. It was completely open-ended. Any conversation within the network that was with a character built into the game was scripted, but most conversations occured with real people. It was entirely open-ended and no two gaming experiences were exactly the same. Although I’ve never played World of Warcraft, I would imagine that LambdaMOO was just like a text-based version of the game. Now graphics are generated for the user wheras in the early days of the internet, this was all up to the user’s imagination.

In today’s high-tech and highly immersive gaming environments, the concept of a MOO or MUD seems almost ridiculous, but their visual simplicity gave them a serious advantage. They were very data-friendly and took up almost no space, allowing for a larger, more open-ended gaming experience then would have been otherwise possible back in the day. In scope, it was almost akin to today’s Grand Theft Auto game series, without the processing or memory demands, because that type of computing was simply not possible at the time.

For anybody interested, there is a way to experience retro computing and gaming on all Macintosh computers. Its just like reverting your computer back to 1977 mode. There is a seemingly ancient operating system called “emacs” hidden somewhere within UNIX. To open it up, simply open up terminal (it’s in utilities or you can open it in finder) and type in or copy:

ls /usr/share/emacs/22.1/lisp/play” (no quotes)

This should open:

This list should come up.

This list should come up.

After this comes up, bask in the user-unfriendliness and confusion of this old OS and be happy that its 2009. Use this image for reference if you want, as it wont come back. Remember the name of the game or program you want to open (no clicking here), then type in:


This will open up the prompt.

Then press the ESC and X key at the same time. It may take a few tries, but when you get it, “M-x” will appear at the bottom, left of the window. When this occurs, type in the name of the game or the program you want to open and simply press enter and it will run.

Old-school pong on a mac

Old-school pong on a mac, who knew?

Some interesting games and programs in all their retro glory are:

-doctor: a really unhelpful psychotherapist built right into your computer




-gomoku: tick-tack-toe with five-in-a-row.

-dunnet: old-school text-based rpg game, much like a MUD or a MOO

-yow: seems to provide random facts and statements that make little to no sense

And to switch games, you have to exit terminal, re-open it and do the whole process all over again… gotta love the 70’s.


One Response to “You MOOs, you lose? Not really.”

  1. BW Says:

    Very cool. Thanks for sharing this!

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