I had the impression, going into text-based game LambdaMoo, that it would be very simple. Perhaps this was because I saw it as archaic or maybe because it was “just text”. However, it took a bit to get the hang of the code-like commands. Thankfully, I took the time to peruse the how-to section, because otherwise I would’ve gotten very frustrated. LambdaMoo is set up very differently than digital media of today. So often we find ourselves on loud and busy webpages that require us to hastily scan to locate simple buttons/links labeled “contact us”, “movie times” or “messages”. Inversely, LambdaMoo is a tranquil space of black and green that gradually disperses information. Every word must be attended to or you could find yourself stuck in a room or unable to utilize a tool. It requires focus and comprehension in a way that has been nearly forgotten.
When I first arrived in the mansion, everything seemed very eerie. The article A Rape in Cyberspace was still ringing in my head, not to mention nearby my roommate was watching the latest episode of American Horror Story so the creepy soundtrack wove itself into my experience. There weren’t many other players around, either. Which was a bummer, because I had mastered talking and emoting in the tutorial. So instead of talking to other people, I found myself talking to the cockatoo in the living room. I liked using the whisper command and feeding him. There is something empowering about the commands; it is extra cool to be able to formulate an order rather than just click a premade button. However, in the long list of commands, I was surprised to see that many were violent actions that could be subjected on the cockatoo. One could gag, poke, drop, throw, shake, or pluck the bird. The command feature can very easily make people feel powerful and often dark things can come of it.
Not everyone uses the commands for evil though. Some really creative inventions were present in the game. I came across a Rube Goldberg contraption randomly by the hot tub. After pulling the lever, a succession of lines appeared describing each movement of the machine. It was wonderful and almost cooler than RL Rube Goldberg machines. Additionally, I was transported to France at one point after having read a postcard. The streets were described in immense detail and everything I would say was then translated into French. It was a shockingly realistic experience that had perks even better than reality (as I know very little French). The creativity possible within what could be seen as a limiting platform is fascinating. The simple text-based game is able to make imagination unlimited in many ways, and it is up to the user to decide whether utilize LambdaMoo for good or evil.