# Chapter Five: Multi-user Dungeons and Alternate Identities
Welcome to the wild side of cyberspace culture, where magic is real and identity is a fluid.
MUD stands for Multi-User Dungeons--imaginary worlds in computer databases where people use words and programming languages to improvise melodramas, build worlds and all the objects in them, solve puzzles, invent amusements and tools, compete for prestige and power, gain wisdom, seek revenge, indulge greed and lust and violent impulses. You can find disembodied sex in some MUDs. In the right kind of MUD, you can even kill--or die.
The grammar of CMC media involves a syntax of identity play: new identities, false identities, multiple identities, exploratory identities, are available in different manifestations of the medium.
Emoting is one of the new practices of that time (which still exists today). Emoting seems awkward and artificial at first, but once you get the hang of it, poses give you some added control over the atmosphere in which a conversation takes place--a taste of the all-important context that is often missing from words alone.
It seems that serious addiction can happen. However, some pioneers of the new genre saw new possibilities for education. They believe that children can gain more understanding in faster time out of the same material if it is presented as a world to explore rather than as a package of information to be learned by rote.
The change in the software encouraged different styles of interaction, and attracted a different type of person. The ethics of the community emerged. The design of the software was a strong factor in shaping what emerged.
Maybe the virtual worlds were not so much a way to escape from 'real problems' but a deliberate way to create alternative, more democratic and equitable societies.
People also play with various identities. We are not one, or a few, but like Walt Whitman, we "contain multitudes." We appear to each other as single identities, unified, of whole cloth. However, with social saturation, each of us comes to harbor a vast population of hidden potentials-- to be a blues singer, a gypsy, an aristocrat, a criminal. All the selves lie latent, and under the right conditions may spring to life.
The different identities can become 'deceit' and be damaging for relationsships, especially if the deceit concerns gender. Males posing for females are an issue which is widespread and hotly debated.
People experimented with virtual environments not only for educational use, but also for professional use, creating informal spaces which are often playful but which are meant to invite scholarly of business-like discussions and contacts.