LambdaMoo – A World of Exploration

Bodiam Castle

Source: Wikipedia.org, Google Images

LambdaMoo is a virtual online game that can be considered an entirely unique experience due to its text-based format. From the very beginning your character is inside of a small, cramped closet. From there you have to figure out how to open the door and explore the rest of the textual world that has been created.

There are no instructions, no rules, no guidelines. When you do something wrong you are confronted with “I don’t understand that” and you must keep trying to find a way to progress further into the LambdaMoo universe. What you make of the game is up to you and the anonymity the game provides can potentially allow for further creativity and exploration.

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Source: blog.nus.edu.sg, Google Images

As I went through the game, I was stricken by just how invested I became. It is frustrating to not be able to move forward and yet the discoveries the game has feel rewarding. For example, there is a cliff in the game that logs more than 1,000 different users who have jumped off of it. While this is extremely cryptic and morbid, it was interesting to see that the dates went back to the early 1990’s. Further beyond the cliff there was also a castle which was portrayed through the use of text and symbols.

LambdaMoo is simply full of endless possibilities. Once you are able to get out of your house and into the world, anything can happen.

It is fascinating to think that I was not alone when making my way through LambdaMOO and that there were many other people also creating their own journeys. Furthermore, all of the paths that are taken by LambdaMoo players are entirely unique from one another.  In Douglas Rushkoff’s Program or Be Programmed, he says that “the more anonymously we engage with others, the less we experience the human repercussions of what we say and do.”

LambdaMoo, in my opinion, puts this statement to the test. Anonymity can often lead people into saying and acting in ways that they normally would never think of doing outside of the Internet. However, a game like LambdaMoo, while anonymous, also encourages people to go out and wander. In this user-created universe, all actions lead to consequences that must be considered.

My questions would then be: In what ways does anonymity lead to a lack of human repercussions? How does LambdaMoo fit or not fit into Rushkoff’s statement?

By William Tolan

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