Muds aren’t virtual realities in the way you may imagine virtual reality to be. If you’re anticipating flying through an emerald jungle-scape wearing a headset and goggles, put on the brakes. Although MUDs can, with your cooperation, produce experiences just as spectacular and heart-pounding, they aren’t going to show you pictures, and thank goodness you only need a monitor and keyboard to visit.
MUDs are text based virtual realities, which means your environment is described in words. The jungle-scape you may fly through is painted in your imagination, often vividly, by the text – in the same way a good book produces a real-feeling sensation of place and atmosphere. Action on a MUD resembles a novel in which you participate as a main character.
The other characters are the people in the virtual area with you, also contributing to the flow of the story or experience with their own textually described actions and dialogue. What you “see” you actually read, and what you “do” you actually write. The result is a real-feeling virtual experience; a simulation of reality, but potentially magical and surreal, and always under the joint control of the users.