Do MUDs and ASCII Graphics Provoke Insanity?

2 min

 The first computer I ever used was an NEC running Windows 95.  At that time I was just a little kid who was too curious about the internet and gaming for his own good.  Safe to say I have come a long way since then, I think we all have.  My RAM (random-access memory) is still shot though.  So bad in fact, that this dual-booted relic I use can barely run a Youtube tab and some random 12kb MUD (multi-user dungeon) client simultaneously.  Have you ever been so desperate and out-of-the loop that you knew the only way you could enhance your already-poor gaming experience was to simply use your fertile imagination? I mean, think about how intense SkiFree was!  Basically what I am getting at here is that the yeti (or whatever) in that game was not a yeti the first time I played it.  It was easier to call it a monster and we all know that a monster could be anything, and that is part of the joy surrounding primitive gaming.  The endless possibility, if only you wanted it enough.

Multi-user dungeon games have been around for awhile, longer than I have been alive.  You might be thinking, who the hell still plays those?  Me and everyone else who gets tired of graphics dictating how a game is supposed to look and feel, that’s who.  The interface is simple and the builders leave just enough content upfront for you to paint the picture.  Think about it like this, you get a bill in the mail and, Oh wait, everything is digital now never mind.  See what I did there?  If you are an adult you just pictured your cable bill maybe because you know exactly what it looks like. Good MUD’s present a person with an idea, depending on how creative you are, that idea becomes a single piece in a much larger puzzle just waiting to be sorted out.  So now you have this image in your head, you progress and maybe there is a page where you have to make a decision of some sort.  Not only is your mind working to maintain that image you had before, but now you get to add to it as well as weigh the expanse and possibilities of each one.

Here is where people get confused and start pouting about these kinda of games being stupid.  The fact of the matter is, you might just lack the brain capacity to play them.  But guess what?  That’s okay!  It is actually 100% normal for you to react this way because it becomes this weird form of unnecessary stress.  Think about it, if you played that MUD for hours on end without stopping.  Your brain is essentially clocking those hours like a PC and we all know those get overheated (and no, taking deep breaths does not count as a cooling system).

Inevitably, people who play games that require more brain power to fill in the blanks tend to lose their grip on things a little bit.  Look at any Dwarf Fortress player who happily indulges without a graphics pack.  We’re talking hours of gameplay which consists of staring at a constantly-blinking screen with only tiny (keyboard) characters to dictate what is happening.  There is no game more systematic and frustrating than Dwarf Fortress is.  On the other hand there are few games with that much depth, I mean it really is insane.  The attention to detail is only one thing that makes that particular game unique.  The amount of fan-fiction surrounding it is enough text to divide it all into multiple novels, a MUD and an actual implemented storyline for Dwarf Fortress itself.  So the next time you decide to play a video-game just remember this, after awhile you might want to question what it is you actually enjoy about what you are playing.  If it ends up being only the things you made up, go ahead and take a break.

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