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An addiction to be proud of

by Selina Kelley

I'm addicted. To the internet, to muds, basically to online text gaming in general. I started being "online" fairly young, my first experience with "the internet" was a BBS my brother used to frequent (play? not really sure what you call it). I was fascinated by my super-powerful ability to talk to someone across the world while sitting at the computer. I barely knew how to type, yet I was talking to a guy named "Manx" that spent his time living in London.

An assortment of nose-stickable pencils.

Being able to just chat to someone across the seas wasn't enough, though. My interest petered out until one unsuspecting day in my first year of University, I was introduced to what was known as a "MUD". I'd been cruising the newsgroups for a few months, when a friend of mine told me to type in some weird characters at my Unix prompt. So, without any idea what I was getting myself into, I typed those fateful words: telnet 2010. I sat at the prompt that asked me for my name for a while. I was a little paranoid, so I tried to type in "alias" - to no avail, it was taken! So I typed in "alies", and so my first mud character was born.

At first, it looked just like a cross between a BBS and the newsgroups I'd been scanning (mmm I was immediately transported into a room by my friend (a wizard, but at that time I had no idea), who then spent the next hour or so teaching me silly things like emotes, sticking pencils up my nose and saying "wibble", and basically how to have some good, clean fun. It was fun, and by the time I was ready to log out, a few hours had passed. And I was hooked.

I never looked back. I moved on to other muds, but I have never forgotten (nor really "left") that first one. I learned to code on an LP mud, Nightmare derived. From that, I learned the constructs of C programming. I took some classes and learned Pascal (hah!). I mudded more, started making more than areas, created daemons, learned security, learned how to navigate around Unix. I compiled my first ever mud, another Nightmare derivative. It took me a week and a half to work through the compilation errors, but I was so proud of myself! Sure, the mud lasted a whole 2 weeks or so, but I did it, and knew I could do it again if I wanted to.

Then I left school, moved to America, got married. I coded more, taught the spouse how to code, and started creating programs to help me code areas easier (in Pascal, Go Delphi!). I got a job as a QA specialist in the eCommerce field, moved up in that field to Engineer, then Engineering Manager. I now know Pascal, C, Java, VB, ASP, JSP and a slew of other three and four-letter acronyms. I can navigate as a pretty mean SQL Administrator, NT Administrator, and an average Unix Administrator.

All this from a mud.

It's taken me a pretty long way in my life. I started out wanting to be an English teacher, I ended up being so deeply entrenched in the online world and how it works, that I would never consider going back. The power of the written word has never been so obvious to me. From a BBS, to newsgroups, to muds, and now to programming, my whole online existence has been text geared. Sure, the graphics are fancy, but without text - content - there is nothing.

So yes, I'm addicted, and proud of it. In ways I'm still that teacher I always wanted to be, but now I teach languages other than English. I co-ordinate an international group of Engineers, both online and in the workplace, and having that stem from, basically, an online text role-playing game, where people stick pencils up their noses... well, that's pretty awe-inspiring.

And I will never look back.

Selina Kelley is a member of our Staff Writers, and has recently joined us as an Editor.