___The Official AVATAR___________________________________
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________________________________________ 22 Jan, 2000 ___
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Table of Contents
1. Editorial by Dizzy
2. Its his MUD by the GodMother
1. Editorial by Dizzy
MUD players have a rich and interesting tradition that dates back to the
first publicly available online worlds. The tradition is a clearly
defined cycle that runs something like this:
1. Discovery. A player finds a mud that has some cool feature, or
friendly players, or helpful IMMortals, and the player decides to stay a
while, gain a few levels, and check things out to see if this is a place
where they could have some serious fun.
2. Infatuation. The player gets drawn into the new world, and invests
heavily in their character(s). Its like a love affair. Everyday is like
springtime in Paris. You begin to put of RL things in order to meet
friends on the MUD.
3. Addiction. For many players the line between RL and ML becomes fuzzy.
The carefree days of accepting the mysterious world around them and the
unilateral rules that govern MUD society begin to be questioned.
4. Dissent/Dissatisfaction. The player finds that they have infused many
many hours of intellectual and emotional life in their fantasy world, and
having become familiar with all aspects of the world [including the
IMMortals who run the joint] have determined that some things really
ought to change. After all, who knows better than the people who inhabit
the world? In fact, things aren't just a bit out of kilter, they are WAY
off. Why, anyone except an egomaniacal FOOL could see it. We ALL see it,
except those blind/ignorant/empire building sadists that reserve every
shred of power and dignity for themselves, eh?
5. Rebellion. Things will never change on this stupid MUD. If I can't be
treated fairly [that is to say, MY WAY], then I'm leaving. After all, I
know WAY better how to run a MUD than this idiotic staff. I'll rouse the
rabble in one last attempt to allow the staff to "see the light". We'll
shout them down! God is on our side! We'll REVOLT! See how they like it
when me and my 10 buddies leave them high and dry.
6. Birth. Viola! A new MUD is born from the parentage of those who
leave their first love. Goto step 1 above.
Those of us who have played, IMM'ed and IMP'ed more than a few MUDs have
seen this cycle replayed dozens of times. My own history in MUDding runs
through the last 10 years and I have IMMortals on nearly 3 dozen MUDs
today including the oldest MUD in the universe: AlexMUD in Sweden. With
all of that experience I have never read a treatise on MUD dynamics as
compelling as the one I'm about to introduce you to. My recommendation is
that ALL of you read it, save it, and whenever you sense that you are
progres sing past step 3 above, pull it out and read it again.
Thanks Darii, you are a peach! -- Diz
2. Its his MUD by the GodMother
Avatar is a microcosmŠa community in ascii, located nowhere and
everywhere. We have a full complement of the joys and miseries of real
life because we have real people behind each and every screen, and these
people are as diverse a population as anywhere on earth.
This is complicated by the fact that we have limited access to and
information about each other. Print is not very illuminating when complex
humans are concerned. We handle this drawback magnificently, but it's
hard, and imperfect at best.
The social/societal dynamics here could spawn a vast array of PhD studies.
It is a complex situation, partly because we all have both the ability to
be anonymous and the opportunity to be anything we want to be, and partly
because it's hard to sustain an assumed persona for an extended period of
time. Despite this, connections ARE made, some moving to rl, and
relationships do develop.
The complexity intensifies because we all exist in a game that is the
creation and hobby of one person, who welcomes us all into his worldŠ
which then becomes "our" world, too, as we invest ourselves in itŠ but
still, ultimately, belongs to him.
Things have been a bit rocky recently, and there are many reasons for
that. In the past several years Snikt has needed to be gone for some
extended periods of time due to the demands of rl.
In his absence, the Immortal staff has carried on as usual, managing the
day to day supervisory and maintenance needs, expanding areas and game
features, and working on AVII. This Imm staff is unusually mature and
stable, including middle-aged professiona ls, college students, and young
up-and-coming graduates. Not one of them has the time to be here full
time, and all have had to take periodic leaves to attend to rl demands,
but the diversity in age, gender, background, and geographic location has
given u s a stability few businesses, much less on-line games, possess.
Recently, Snikt has been here more often, and is remodeling things that
have developed in ways he had not intended. Some things are out of whack,
and need a bit of attention: a few game developments needed adjustment to
make them work more efficiently or to move closer to the game Snikt
envisioned, and the social dynamics have needed some work too.
In some ways Snikt is the President, CEO, and owner of a business.
Immortals are "hired" by him to do a job at no wages beyond satisfaction
with the creative opportunities provided or the collegiality of players
and imm staff. Angels volunteer for service as well. Players are the
consumers, but they get the product at no cost.
Although he retains creative and administrative control, Snikt permits and
actively solicits input from staff and player base alike. He loves
innovative ideas and welcomes them, but so many ideas are generated
thatthere is no way he could ever respond to them all and, of course, not
all suggested revisions are feasible.
Most players are assets to the endeavor, enjoying the product, and
contributing to the welfare of both individuals and the society as a
A few players do not enhance the community. Some have emotional and
behavioral patterns that do not enhance the game for other players. At
some point they become so clearly out of line that removing them from the
game is an easy and obvious decision. Thes e denials are fairly public,
and simply reinforce understanding of what is considered "appropriate and
legal" behavior. Curiously, some of those denied return to Avatar,
creating new characters, and become much better citizens.
Others are what are termed "high maintenance players" who constantly tread
a fine line, pushing the boundaries of taste and fairness at every
opportunity. Handling them uses staff time and energy in a way that is
distracting, demoralizing, and unfair to p layers and staff alike. Snikt
is firmly requesting that these players also be terminated.
Unfortunately, this sometimes looks unfair, chaotic, or quixotic because
of Avatar's policy of player confidentiality. We do NOT make most
transgressions public, but some players have dozens of incidents that are
unknown to the community before a seemingl y trivial incident leads to
Despite the "public relations" problem that this confidentiality policy
causes, we have no plans to change it. There is no "court report" section
of the Gazette, and we like the privacy that allows players to mature,
grow, and change into model citizens w ithout penalty.
Recent events have generated much discussion. Several specific actions
have caused confusion and concern, and I'll address them in as discreet a
manner as possible.
Two vocal high maintenance players finally exhausted Immortal patience and
simply came to an end of new chances. They each had become a constant
distraction to the work, workers, and players of Avatar.
Several others engaged in a bit of role-play in summoning a random newbie
and "playing" with her.
ROLE-PLAYING requires that ALL participants have consented to and joined
the 'game' willingly. NO random players may be involved. As the
role-playing involved suggestive, sexual, and inappropriate behavior, it
became harassment and was dealt with by Snikt directly, who responded by
setting up a bit of role-playing of his own.
SUMMONING an unknown player is not illegal (or code would make it
impossible) but it was done unfairly and unwisely. That issue was also
HARASSMENT is strictly forbidden. The victim should immediately ask the
perpetrators to stop, log the incident if possible, and contact an
A third situation involved a strong, contributing player with definite
opinions on recent events and the way in which the mud should be
administered. This player was concerned about a number of issues, and was
supporting the role of player input in establ ishing and administering
policy. A long discussion, first alone, then with a group of players,
centered on the right of the Immortals, and specifically Snikt himself, to
direct the actions of players online.
After lengthy discussion where the role of the Imm staff and Snikt himself
as the ultimate decision-makers was debated, Snikt restated the apparently
forgotten or unknown rule: If an Immortal asks you to do something, do it,
and complain to a superior Imm or the Execs afterward. "What if it is
unfair?" the player inquired. Snikt replied that he still expected
obedience first and complaints after.
The player objected to the premise, and Snikt said that if he asked you to
jump, he needed players to jump first and ask why or complain later. He
said, "Jump." The player flatly refused, and was denied.
I've been asked to comment on this incident, and I will.
I've known Snikt irl, personally, for almost 5 years. He has, in all that
time, been fair and just. Have I agreed with every thing he has said and
done? Of course not! We disagree violently on many matters and have since
I was a level 5 newbie. He always listens to my point of view, but (a tip
here) the fewer words I use to express it, the better he listens. He does
NOT always do what I wish he would, but he is always fair and true to his
vision of the way the game should be.
I did not know him before my students became avid mudders, but I was
stunned by the care and concern he exhibited on behalf of my young
players, even when they were in trouble, and managed to get our entire
site banned. Subsequently he came to my school t o meet the 25 students
who mudded; we found him personable, kind, full of energy, and an
excellent MTG player.
Snikt is concerned about the person behind the screen. He was willing to
help design things to help a learning disabled student of mine play. In
addition, he directed the staff to code many modifications to make it
easier for blind players to play.
He also cares about input from the person behind the character. He will
not, however, allow the desires of players to pull the game off-center or
away from the vision he has, but is more than willing to hear what they
have to say. He solicits and accepts comments and dissent, even on touchy
topics, in the APPROPRIATE forum, and debates without recrimination.
One of the emails to me asked me if I would have jumped when he told me
to. My answer is yes, I would haveŠ and then rolled on the floor laughing.
His request was, in my opinion, a metaphor for trust. He could have also
asked, "Do you trust me to do the r ight thing?" My answer would have
I trust this man. He would not ask me to do something wrong. Frankly, I
find it hard to envision an online thing I could do that would be
unethical or immoral within the parameters of the game that he would
approve of or direct me to do. He has my loyalty and my complete trust.
Sometimes we have players with such strong feelings, opinions, and plans
that they really cannot stay here trusting Snikt's vision; their vision of
what should be is as strong as his, and the product would be far
different. Faced with that fact, many have left to design their own muds.
Far from feeling insulted or threatened, Snikt usually delights in these
Snikt, as CEO, IMP, and owner of Avatar, has the right and responsibility
to be the man with the deciding vote. We have some exceedingly strong and
competent Immortals, and when two or more strong leaders co-exist they
must either share or divide the powe r or one or more will need to leave.
Our Immortal staff is not composed of "yes-Imms". We discuss, debate, and
argue with zest, and without recrimination, and, when all is said and
doneŠŠ. Snikt makes the final decision.
It's his mud.
The Avatar Gazette is what you've just been reading, and it is the
official newsletter of Avatar, it is published weekly by Dizzy, in
conjunction with The Avatar Staff.(Original concept by Asamaro).
The Gazette is written in plain vanilla ASCII text to ensure that
everyone can enjoy it regardless of computer type.
To subscribe to the Gazette, send internet e-mail to
email@example.com. In the body of your
subscribe username@hostname (MudName - RealName)
eg subscribe firstname.lastname@example.org (Snikt - Kevin Jagh)
Your real name is optional for the Gazette list.
eg subscribe email@example.com (Snikt)
You can FTP back issues of the gazette from ftp.walrus.com in
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