Computing, social activity, and entertainment: A field study of a game MUD

TitleComputing, social activity, and entertainment: A field study of a game MUD
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1998
AuthorsMuramatsu, J, Ackerman, MS
JournalComputer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW)
Keywordscombat MUDs, entertainment, games, MUDs, online communities, participant-observation, play, social worlds, system design

Are game and entertainment systems different than work-oriented systems? What drives the user's experience in a collaborative game? To answer these questions, we performed a participant-observation study of a combat MUD, a game similar to Dungeons and Dragons. Our interest is in how this social world is arranged and managed (rather than, for example, in how participants form or display individual identities). The study explores the social arrangements and activities that give meaning and structure to the participants. We found that conflict and cooperation were the dominant social activities on this MUD, much more so than sociability. The game's management played a critical function in maintaining and promoting these activities. Moreover, novelty and entertainment were important for the design of both the system features and the sociality itself.