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Old 04-06-2011, 04:06 AM   #1
melopene
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Confessions of a 15-year MUD-girl

Dear MUD friends,

I'm going to be celebrating the most unfortunate anniversary of my 29th birthday next week, and I've been thinking about life in general. In that spirit, I want to share my own story - I hope it will make any of you stop and think about your own life as a MUD player. I'm not recruiting, nor am I doing anything else to tempt you to do this or that. However, I will share more than I have ever dared to share before, even in private IMs and conversations. I'm sure there's a handful of you whose experiences mirror my own, but I thought it best to share them instead of allowing history to repeat itself once more, if possible.

With apologies for the tl;dr, but hey, it's fifteen years worth of stuff (and barely even scratching the surface)...

Also, fair warning. This pretty raw stuff, especially toward the beginning. The faint of heart and faint of butt need not read.

---

Let me preface this by saying that I've always been the smart kid, as in, skip a grade in elementary school and hope nobody notices smart kid (trust me, they noticed). My few high school friends referred to me as the 'human encyclopaedia, science book, math reference, and spelling dictionary'. The non-friends mocked me as 'Tricky Vick'.

I had just turned fifteen during the summer when I discovered Modus Operandi on AOL, and I thought it was fantastic, but I couldn't figure out the commands - much less how to use those pesky communicators that kept whizzing at me. (Before you mock me, AOL was the only available dial-up at the time on the outskirts of Birmingham AL)

So, I decided to check out the other games AOL had to offer. Like Terris.

Terris was by and large the craziest game I ever played. At its peak, there were about 1100 players on at any given time. The battlemage's guild was insane, even though it was probably the smallest of them all. People were using the game to find new husbands, have hot sweaty mudsex, and I wasn't that much the wiser, being 15 and a student at one of the most sheltered Christian schools you could imagine. Oh, and there was mudsex. Being 15, and later 16, and not having any idea what the hell I was doing, I was enticed into quite a bit. In all honesty, the things I did as a teen would've (and likely should've) had a number of older men arrested on child pornography charges. This was long before the day when this might be considered predatory, so I very literally learned about the practice of sex from MUDs.

Mom eventually figured out that my sister and I were MUDing. She grilled the IMP from Terris, finding out that I'd had over 1000 hours of playtime (considering that this was over the summer, it doesn't seem so bad in retrospect). Mom never knew about the sexy-time. Sister quit. I got lectures. I was told that I was going to hell. I decided that Christianity wasn't for me if God was going to send me to hell over a -game-. I got interested in the principles of other religions (I started with the less-controversial-at-the-time-islam), but got caught reading a book about wicca. I was thrown out of the religious school. So much for the Ivy league, no matter how bored I was in class, much less all the scholarship opportunities! I ended up at directional state, and I'm still very glad for that.

College. Oh, dear. I was that twink. Not so much a twink as a girl who didn't know better, for what it's worth - I was barely 17 and never did actually have 'the talk', for the record. This guy named Darin decided to drag me onto a 'real' mud instead of Terris. The IMP had me download Zmud and wear hotpants on my character. I learned the basics of OLC on CIRCLE. I learned a lot of other things about creepy men, but not an actual lesson. Instead, I learned that slutty might be valuable in life. That attitude ended up in a few date rapes, only one which I ever even tried to report.

I spent the bulk of my freshman year MUDing from a Compaq 486/DX laptop with a docking station, back in 1998. This was considered to be super-cool at the time, despite the fact that it was a hand-me-down from BellSouth. On the weekends, I was back on the super-cool P1-133 with Win98 at home. I MUDed a lot then, almost entirely on MERC derivs. I IMMed on a game whose name I can't recall, but I know it was on the Mythran codebase. The IMP was entirely convinced that she was the reincarnation of an egyptian goddess, and had a distinct hatred for Molly (now a very successful owner of 4D).

Then I got myself a K6-3 450, a T-1, a CD burner, and Napster. Suddenly, I was the most popular girl in the entirety of the dorms at directional state, and it felt damn good. At one point, my undergraduate advisor asked me, 'Do you -REALLY- have 1200 of your favorite songs on your hard drive?' MUDs were still a weekend dalliance, but not so much an obsession, until I ended up in a dorm for one. At this point, I'd already decided that I wanted to start a MUD of my own, and was usually stoned off my gourd. I tried to start a MUD and failed miserably, though I had a rousing chorus of 12-year-olds to cheer me on.

The point of a dorm is not to break you apart from your friends, it's to force you to make them. Unfortunately, moving as a late sophomore into a room built for two but housing one isn't the way to go about that. I thought that what friends I'd made would stick around, because now I was cool and had a single. Instead, the freshman I was assigned to share a bathroom with was busted smoking ungodly amounts of pot (and not even good pot) while I was out of the country for Labor Day. I was damn near thrown out of directional state for it, but my mother hired an attorney to demonstrate to the university that it had nothing to do with me, and got me off the hook. It's been mentioned twice since then, although my family realizes my serious pothead tendencies (and shares them on occasion, though it is never spoken of nor made to be a collective event).

Terris had gone to pay-to-play, and faking a credit card number and using the name of a man at my church only worked for so long, until people realized that there were ways to verify those things. Then it went off of AOL, and was p2p only, but available through telnet or the special front-end - like GS3, but in all honesty, far more lame. A guy and I who played there grew obsessed with one another, and after months on end, I decided that I should move up to the DC suburbs to be with him. I took a year off of school, lived with a much older man, and was generally taken advantage of. At some point in this venture, I found a game (we'll call it GT) and fell into it, learning to love the lands and the people, and eventually became head builder.

Then, as all young girls do, I found that older guy had a few other girlfriends in various cities across the eastern seaboard, and decided that it was best that we parted ways (I demonstrated this to him by smashing his groceries on the sidewalk as well as his 17" monitor, which was a nice asset back then). GT and I had some great times together after I finally moved back home and started back to school. I developed three full cities for the game, all of which were fully comprehensive and included external areas and what have you.

By this point, just goofing off wasn't enough, I still wanted to -be- a character - not the 17 year old girl wearing hotpants or a staffer with a personality, but a real RP character. GT and I had a great relationship, and I had some of the deepest RP I'll ever recall there. Unfortunately, the RP was an afterthought, and it wasn't valued at all, but instead treated as a nuisance to the imp's long term vision - this, of course, becoming more and more clear after building more and more fully functional cities. And of course there was the issue of GT and the self-serving behavior, the vote bribery, and what have you. These things happen to the extent that you would fully expect said corruption from a MUD owner in the early 2000s (but hey, he had the DIKU/MERC/ROM credits in his helpfiles!)

After a while, I found out that the boy was cheating on me in a serious way, and moved home. I grew tired of the absence of real RP on GT and started playing a different game (we'll call it XiN), not too long after the 9/11 incident. When I was offered an admin position on XiN, I had already left GT over ethical issues and was ready to make things happen. I did, for a good while. For nearly four years, I poured my heart and soul into XiN, creating a new continent with a team of player-builders and developing concept after concept with its head coder, who was as enthusiastic about RP as I was.

And then I met the boy.
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Old 04-06-2011, 04:07 AM   #2
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Re: Confessions of a 15-year MUD-girl

He played XiN. He was a friend. I told him I didn't like the idea of him joining the military; he did anyway. He ended up stationed about 45 minutes from me, and eventually we met up. It was one of those sickeningly cute romances, we both stuck to eachother like (insert inappropriate simile here). We dated. He got orders. We married in order to stay together. I became the most miserable military wife known to man. He used me to gain staff status on XiN, and then to manipulate the game to become more suitable for him and his friends. After another year or so, I told him that we both had to leave, in no uncertain terms. After a tremendous fight, we did. After that, he persuaded me to assist a hapless IMP with a bunch of crash bugs, and I ended up inheriting his code after spending weeks and months making it into something workable and playable. We divorced not long thereafter - it had become apparent to me that his only interest was how my existence would benefit his gaming, and he wasn't going to stay around for a tinker toy.

A year later, a friend whom I'd MUDed with decided to move into the area, and I rented my spare room to her. Neither of us played a game anymore, but we wanted to see a great concept finished. We worked on the concept day and night. She did more artwork than anyone could imagine. Then she disappeared, along with one of my computers. That was great. I gave up on the MUD thing.

Two years later, I passed my PhD comprehensive exams, but had lost funding for graduate school. I had to move home, lose -everything-, and MUDs were the least of my concern. I had nothing more to give to the community, and it didn't have anything to give me. I tried Second Life, it sucked. I tried playing PS2 and PS3 games, they all sucked. I gave up for a while. After all, I had a real life to tend to.

I did real life things. I got drunk a lot. Worked for a company that wanted to suck every evil penny from its customers. Became miserable. Wrote grants for said company, and got them close to $40M for the stimulus package, in order to get people from the most rural areas to be able to do something OTHER than mud. They got the money, they used it inappropriately, so I reported them to the feds and quit. It was time to finish the PhD, anyway.

Nearly two months ago, I turned in my dissertation proposal. It took me a month to even get a telephone appointment with my advisor. That time had already driven me insane, so it was time to MUD again, and I'd found that XiN was back in business, so I decided to play there.

It was traumatic. The things I had spent the most of my time on were gone. I had spent so much time making my mark on the place, only for it to be erased, for all intents and purposes. I realized my precise value to the game, and it made me sad, because its value was practically zero. I asked questions, and was frequently turned away. I asked to be flagged as someone to help newbies, and was told that they're better off asking staff who may or may not be present instead of ever answering an actual question from a new player. This, after having been an admin for some time, and never having turned away a single player despite their twink potential. Oh, but I should go vote for them, because they gecho it around 9 or 10PM every night. Right?

Sigh.

---

I've grown a lot over the years, and I'm sure that's evidenced by my posting. But I never thought that I would somehow become old or useless. I still do things for my own inherited tinker toy, but I don't see why, as no player would ever consider a less than completed game these days. I doubt that I will ever see it finished myself, but I must admit that my tinkerings pose far more of an intellectual challenge than building ever did.

I'm starting to think that it's time to give up. I'm getting old, and our player pool wanes. There are so many lessons to be learned from my story, and I hope that at least one of you learns from a single one of those tales.

Good luck. Much love.

-melly
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Old 04-06-2011, 05:25 AM   #3
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Re: Confessions of a 15-year MUD-girl

Well I did wonder what you'd been up - clearly a lot! Has it really been that long?

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I've grown a lot over the years, and I'm sure that's evidenced by my posting. But I never thought that I would somehow become old or useless.
Hey, I'm celebrating my own Birthday in a couple of days, and I'm several years older than you, so please go easy on the "old" and "useless" comments!

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I still do things for my own inherited tinker toy, but I don't see why, as no player would ever consider a less than completed game these days. I doubt that I will ever see it finished myself, but I must admit that my tinkerings pose far more of an intellectual challenge than building ever did.
I used to have a "tinker toy" mud, I kept adding lots of cool features but never any real content. I shut it down in the end, but I still learned a lot of useful techniques from it.

If you really want to complete something, why not just try a smaller project? Even if you don't want to work directly for another mud, you could still develop snippets, or a client GUI script, or write some articles, etc.
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Old 04-06-2011, 06:57 AM   #4
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Re: Confessions of a 15-year MUD-girl

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Well I did wonder what you'd been up - clearly a lot! Has it really been that long?


Hey, I'm celebrating my own Birthday in a couple of days, and I'm several years older than you, so please go easy on the "old" and "useless" comments!


I used to have a "tinker toy" mud, I kept adding lots of cool features but never any real content. I shut it down in the end, but I still learned a lot of useful techniques from it.

If you really want to complete something, why not just try a smaller project? Even if you don't want to work directly for another mud, you could still develop snippets, or a client GUI script, or write some articles, etc.
Ah yes, I recall your birthday being near mine. And yes, you're older than me, but I'm hitting a landmark I'd rather forget!

I'm not willing to give up on my tinker toy. I did so much on the back end and came up with so many concepts for the front that I really think it -could- one day work. Will it? Uh... maybe. Maybe if I get a legion of builders to help me. So the answer is most likely no.

But if I would stop, start again, and always start all over, that'd just be dumb. I'll just continue to tinker, and eventually I might have something interesting enough for players to test out. Orbital mechanics was fun, weather's next!

BTW, talked to Kas lately? You two were roommates or co-workers (or both) at one point, right?
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Old 04-06-2011, 07:42 AM   #5
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Re: Confessions of a 15-year MUD-girl

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I'm not willing to give up on my tinker toy. I did so much on the back end and came up with so many concepts for the front that I really think it -could- one day work. Will it? Uh... maybe. Maybe if I get a legion of builders to help me. So the answer is most likely no.
The reliance on builders was always one of my major problems, it was one of the main reasons I put so much effort into dynamic computer-generated descriptions. I now use them all over the place (eg when you click my name in my sig, that's a generated description).

You could also try looking into player-generated content. I believe the concept has real potential.

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But if I would stop, start again, and always start all over, that'd just be dumb. I'll just continue to tinker, and eventually I might have something interesting enough for players to test out. Orbital mechanics was fun, weather's next!
Reminds me a bit of Physmud. But you really need some solid content before you can pull in players - cool toys won't keep them entertained for long.

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BTW, talked to Kas lately? You two were roommates or co-workers (or both) at one point, right?
We'd say housemates, but yeah we shared the rent on a house until our company laid us off, then I got a job in another country. He did some work on God Wars II, then disappeared for a few years, and surfaced again recently on MudBytes.
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Old 04-06-2011, 12:34 PM   #6
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Re: Confessions of a 15-year MUD-girl

If that Gamer Geek/Freak guy can write a book about computer gaming and his experiences, you can probably elaborate on your experiences, put about 20 chapters on paper, and write a book yourself. I was seriously entertained by the two or three pages I just read.

My story's not nearly so interesting. It goes like this: "I discovered muds in college, played them, did real well at them, played them too much, got my head out of my butt long enough to get a degree and a job, and now play them casually." My 10-15 year saga can be reduced to less than 50 words.
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Old 04-06-2011, 04:53 PM   #7
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Re: Confessions of a 15-year MUD-girl

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The reliance on builders was always one of my major problems, it was one of the main reasons I put so much effort into dynamic computer-generated descriptions. I now use them all over the place (eg when you click my name in my sig, that's a generated description).

You could also try looking into player-generated content. I believe the concept has real potential.
Actually, that is a fantastic concept, and something that would fit beautifully with the type of thing I'm working on. I've always despised walking down the same road again and again to get to different areas, and see no reason why you shouldn't be able to cut your way through whatever wilderness might exist between point A and point B. I spent a lot of time mapping out a complete wilderness (most of which is desc-less still, since it's nearly 5000 rooms and I've been lazy) just because I thought that should be the standard practice. I mean, I understand why it isn't for the sake of easy implementation and what have you, but at this point the only place you can't have easy passage through is a mountain range, for obvious reasons.


Quote:
We'd say housemates, but yeah we shared the rent on a house until our company laid us off, then I got a job in another country. He did some work on God Wars II, then disappeared for a few years, and surfaced again recently on MudBytes.
Pff, you silly people and your different words. It's all the same! Glad to hear that he's still around, I have fond memories of the both of you
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Old 04-07-2011, 05:55 AM   #8
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Re: Confessions of a 15-year MUD-girl

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BTW, talked to Kas lately?
Yo. I'm still around, although this forum seems to have forgotten anything I ever did. But I'm still here and more pronounceable than ever.

Good to see you're still around.

(Thanks for the heads-up, KaVir)
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Old 04-07-2011, 06:08 AM   #9
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Re: Confessions of a 15-year MUD-girl

It's like my two big brothers came to give me big hugs! *beam*

Love you both, seriously.
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Old 04-07-2011, 06:53 PM   #10
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Re: Confessions of a 15-year MUD-girl

I think we've all gotten wiser as we've gotten older. Looking back at things, I cringe at my own naivety. But I guess you can call them learning experiences. It does suck when you put so much effort into things only to feel that it didn't really matter. But hopefully you had fun doing it? Yeah, as much as the old mud drove me nuts and frustrated me, I still loved playing, I had fun, and I still miss my characters. I probably could've been doing something more productive with my life, but I think I needed that period to grow. And now I'm finally graduating in the fall and I'm at least out in the real world. :P But being away from mudding for a few years, I got the urge again and ended up finding a new place to play--no longer 10 hours (or more) a day though, hehe. And I think this time I'm seeing it more as something I do for fun and not something to obsess over or get too wrapped up in. Remember healthy mudding habits--it's just a game!
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Old 04-10-2011, 10:50 AM   #11
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Re: Confessions of a 15-year MUD-girl

Long dramatic post. This is one reason New Worlds Ateraan requires players to be 18+.
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Old 04-10-2011, 12:38 PM   #12
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Re: Confessions of a 15-year MUD-girl

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This is one reason New Worlds Ateraan requires players to be 18+.
How do you do this?
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Old 04-10-2011, 05:38 PM   #13
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How do you do this?
The more important question is why and the answer is simple. Serious roleplaying requires mature, serious players and you do not get that from 95% of teenagers. Granted you get some immature adults too, but at a much smaller rate and with adults you can have reasonable requirements and expect them to be followed, for the most part.
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Old 04-10-2011, 05:45 PM   #14
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Re: Confessions of a 15-year MUD-girl

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The more important question is why and the answer is simple. Serious roleplaying requires mature, serious players and you do not get that from 95% of teenagers. Granted you get some immature adults too, but at a much smaller rate and with adults you can have reasonable requirements and expect them to be followed, for the most part.
Everybody understands why. He really meant how. How do you detect and prevent 15 year olds from playing?
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Old 04-10-2011, 09:06 PM   #15
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Re: Confessions of a 15-year MUD-girl

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The more important question is why
If you can't answer the question of how then the why is mostly irrelevant. I'm just curious to know what methods of age verification you use on your mud, if any.

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He really meant how
Hence my use of the word 'how'.
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Old 04-11-2011, 03:42 AM   #16
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If you can't answer the question of how then the why is mostly irrelevant. I'm just curious to know what methods of age verification you use on your mud, if any.
I can give you a general answer Orrin but not the indepth answer as to do so would give those so inclined methods around our security. Suffice it to say our policies are intricate and in some cases as intrusive as background checks for job or college transcript verification. Far more indepth than simple registration or drivers license imaging.
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Old 04-11-2011, 11:10 AM   #17
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Re: Confessions of a 15-year MUD-girl

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I can give you a general answer Orrin but not the indepth answer as to do so would give those so inclined methods around our security. Suffice it to say our policies are intricate and in some cases as intrusive as background checks for job or college transcript verification. Far more indepth than simple registration or drivers license imaging.
I'm not normally one to call bull on anybody, but back when I played on New Worlds, the mud didn't collect any identifying information from me. I even asked about the age rule and how it was enforced at the time, and the general consensus was that the people in charge just kept and eye out and made subjective judgements. If somebody acts stupid and immature, even if that person's 40, he might get asked a few questions or even asked to leave. But a quiet 15 year old girl who keeps to herself, doesn't act stpuid, and doesn't let the fact that she's underage slip when talking to people could easily pass undetected.

I don't know if things have changed, but your mud had and may still have many underage players, cybersexing left and right.
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Old 04-12-2011, 01:13 AM   #18
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Re: Confessions of a 15-year MUD-girl

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I'm not normally one to call bull on anybody, but back when I played on New Worlds, the mud didn't collect any identifying information from me. I even asked about the age rule and how it was enforced at the time, and the general consensus was that the people in charge just kept and eye out and made subjective judgements. If somebody acts stupid and immature, even if that person's 40, he might get asked a few questions or even asked to leave. But a quiet 15 year old girl who keeps to herself, doesn't act stpuid, and doesn't let the fact that she's underage slip when talking to people could easily pass undetected.

I don't know if things have changed, but your mud had and may still have many underage players, cybersexing left and right.
I somehow wonder if a MUD that was going to attempt to subject me to a similar level of scrutiny as a background check would be worth my time even checking out. I know that I've seen a lot of people starting out as young as I did - or younger - who started out somewhat twinky, but with someone there to offer mature guidance have bloomed into great people. I actually got an IM from someone just like that a few nights ago, telling me that he remembered me and really appreciated how nice I was to him and how his years of MUDding were really special memories. There are some players who are 40+ years old and never become any less of a twink, just like SnowTroll said.

Besides, there are plenty of smart teenagers out there who know how to get around even the most intrusive of searches. I think your claims are likely highly exaggerated, and in fact I hope that's the case. They may be a way of life for a number of us, but for the bulk of users, they're just a game.

I don't think I've shared my 'sage advice rules', but they seem strangely relevant at this moment, so here they are:

1) It's okay to get up and walk away sometimes. It's okay to miss things that happen and find out later.
2) Do NOT let this suck away your real life. Ever.
3) If your friends come around with beer, and you have a choice between the game or beer, and can't have both, go for the beer.

Incidentally, I've appreciated the feedback I've gotten from everyone so far. You guys rock.
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Old 04-12-2011, 03:09 AM   #19
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Re: Confessions of a 15-year MUD-girl

Beer, MUD and your friends on Skype MUDding is where its at
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Old 04-12-2011, 05:04 AM   #20
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Re: Confessions of a 15-year MUD-girl

I'm pretty curious too. I know I was faking my hate for years when I was younger. I started RPing in chat rooms when I was 15 in AOL sponsore chats. By 16 I was on the staff. I got a free AOL account and some more goodies. You were supposed to be 18 and I can't remember how I faked it, but I did. A little later, I started playing a bunch of MUDs. If you needed to be 18 or over, I have no clue. I was playing regardless.
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