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During the years that I have mudded, I have come to notice a pattern that some of the mud players go through. I say 'some' because I know the trend I am about to describe certainly does not apply to everybody. With the current habit of players hopping from mud to mud and even playing several muds simultaneously, the pattern is not as apparent as it used to be, but I still run into it frequently.
Nothing can quite describe the excitement of logging to a mud for the first time ever. It seems a whole new world opens up where everything is possible and it's just the kind of thing one has been looking for. The player explores and stumbles, fascinated by the world around him/her. Soon, they start to get the idea, experience points and money start rolling in, levels rise and the player is having a great time talking with the others about everything.
Life cycle of a frog
This is where they start spending more and more time on-line, because it is just so much fun and a well needed break from the real life. They play hours a day, content with their new friends and activities, starting to neglect the real life and its commitments. Their reasonings vary, but mostly it has to do with something about the real life being too hectic for them right now and they simply must have a means to escape it from time to time. This is the period of time that they will always come to regard as the "good old days", the period they will always compare to. This regardless of the fact that there are several older players around who claim that the mud now sucks and the real good old days are long gone.
The period of bliss will not last very long however. With players spending too much time on-line, the real life starts to feel more like a refuse. They run into other players who they start to dislike greatly and get into arguments, groups form where gossiping, backstabbing, and general mud politics (read: soap opera) is a daily phenomenon. The player perhaps met some nice person on the mud and fell in love, but now that relationship is turning sour as well. The tables turn and the mud becomes the oppressive obligation that they cannot get away from. It is too late, the player feels compelled to login every day even when they do not really feel like it so much anymore. They start to realize just how much they have neglected their old duties, be it school, work or friends and blame this all on the mud. Instead of wondering just what it was that drove them to this compulsive hobby, they turn all their negative thoughts to the mud, making it the spawn of all evil.
The problem usually gets solved in one of three ways:
The player quits completely. They usually end up making some long speech on some player forum about how muds and the Internet are evil and people who spend time in them are stupid. That this player has finally seen the truth and encourages the others to do the same. Some of the players succeed in leaving, others return to phase 2. Some return periodically just to announce to everybody what a great time they are having in real life now and how much better they are doing (but still feeling compelled to login to a mud to tell all this).
The player stays on, because they cannot do anything else. They do not really want to login that much, but something drives them to it. Every moment they spend on the mud they feel guilty and bad about themselves and start to take this out on the mud and its players and wizards. Nothing is good enough for these people. They find fault with everything. It's like the whole mud is a conspiracy against them, and they cannot get enough of how good things were back in the good old days. Everything that has been done since has only ruined the mud more and more and the current people playing at the mud are so stupid too that nobody can stand them. Nothing like the good old days when everybody was so nice and kind to each other.
After possibly going through phases 1 and 2, the player settles down and tries to find a happy medium between real life and mudding. They realize what the mud really is, just a game. It is not some means to solve their real life problems. It is also not worth it to toss ones life away.
A lot of the things in this article have been exaggerations, but I have seen even the worst cases in the course of my mudding life. One might ask what good are muds if they lead to such strife in so many people, but that is a topic for another article...
August 1999 Imaginary Realities, the magazine of your mind.
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