Guest at LambdaMoo

I have always been familiar with online/phone games that include some type of virtual world where the users are able to become some sort of character. However, I have never before heard of a game that allows users to interact with one another using purely words. When told in class that there were to be no visuals in LambdaMoo, I was a big confused by the concept of the game. To be honest, I did not really expect LambdaMoo to be very excited; I was definitely not looking forward to having to play the same. This assumption was primarily due to the fact by the background information I had about LambdaMoo, often described as a very basic and simple game. I figured it was just a game I might have enjoyed right when it came out, but that it was just old news now.

When I logged in, I had the mindset that it was a competition, in that most of the games I have played in the past I was always trying to win or be the best ‘character’. However, right from the start of entering Moo, it became clear that interacting with the other characters was vital in making it anywhere. If it weren’t for the help commands and the tutorials, I probably would have been completely lost in the game. A lot of the time I spent on the game was trying to think of which phrases I should enter or what wording to use. I felt like I just kept being thrown into random places: a closet, a garage, and at one point I even asked someone to get me a drink from the kitchen.

One thing that interested me while reading Julian Dibbell’s experience on the site, was when he stated “If a character “says” or “does” something (as directed by its user-owner via the say or the emote command), then only the users whose characters are also located in that room will see the output describing the statement or action,” so basically, if my character were to do something in a certain room, only characters in the same room would know about it. Dibbell also stated that a character could not leave a room unless there was an exit door for the character to go through. This made me think of the game as much more similar to the physical world as other online games in that characters were not able to just go through doors etc.

I’m the type of person that gets very engrossed in whatever is the new popular online game or phone game. For instance, right now I am currently addicted to playing the Kim Kardashian game on my iPhone. The game involves a visual and written virtual world, where users design a character and then spend the rest of the game trying to work up to be the highest level of celebrity—the ‘A-List’ celebrity. I think what sort of lost my appeal in Lambda Moo was the fact that I did not feel I was really working for anything. I personally did not understand the appeal that the users found in the game, but at the same time, I know there are many who don’t understand the appeal of any of the games I play either.

I continued to ask myself questions while I played the game comparing it to other games I had played. Was I supposed to charm these other characters? If I do charm them, do I get some sort of reward? Am I supposed to become friends with them? Ultimately, I came to the conclusion that LambdaMoo is not meant to do anything but just exist. There was no end goal, no crown to be given, no ‘A-List’ celebrity or similar title.


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