MUDs: Is There A 'Happily Ever After'?

text game lovers ooc

By Lorna Cowie

Like a lot of people, I enjoy happy endings. Not all the time, but most of it. In this article I will introduce you to two of my dearest friends, Ali (age 26) and Paul (age 27), who I have known for over ten years and yes, we all met in a MUD. After spending an extraordinary time in game and out of it in the 'real world' we formed a group of friends that even to this day meet up and have fun, even if some have drifted off from the path of the MUD whilst I stubbornly remained.

Recently Ali and Paul got married. MUDs have such a huge social aspect (when used properly) that thankfully this is not a unique story. Many people have found their true match through the world of gaming, though not all stories have a happy ending. This one, however, does! A transcript of our interview is below.

Lorna: Thank you both for agreeing to this interview! I know to us it isn't an odd topic, but believe it or not, there are still people out there who are skeptical over MUDs and what they are about. Firstly, if you both would, could I have a brief introduction of who you are and what you do? Just to let the readers out there know you are in fact 'normal' people!

Ali: I make a living as a freelance writer and writing coach - you can find me on my own blog Aliventures, and all over the internet.

Paul: I'm hoping to do a Masters in Politics, and then go on and do a Doctorate. I'm fairly sure that makes me something other than "normal".

Lorna: What is your background in gaming and when did you first start becoming interested in MUDs?

Ali: We both came to MUDs via Games Workshop games. I started playing in 2001, along with my brother.

Paul: My roommate at university had problems with his internet connection and he played on a MUD, so he used to borrow my computer when I was out drinking... one morning I was bored and felt like trying it.

Lorna: Now Ali, I know you played a male character and even so, you clearly met and fell in love with Paul. How did it come about? Was it unusual to let people know you were a female behind the character?

Ali: It was never a big secret - I think pretty much everyone knew I was female in real life. I don't think it was that unusual, either, though perhaps we had more men playing female characters than vice versa.

Paul: I used to play a female character.

Ali: In fact, that's the first time I remember meeting him in the game. He was playing a 12 year old girl at the time...

Lorna: How did you both handle sensitive issues like relationships and friendships in a MUD?

Ali: None of my characters were exactly heroic or friendly types - my main one was a thief. So I never took anything aimed at my characters at all personally.

Paul: Like Ali, none of my characters were at all like me. Well, at least, I'm not a mass murderer and several of my characters were.

Ali: Looking back, I think that when there were problems with relationships and friendships, it was probably to do with the text-based medium. Not everyone has a good grasp of nuance, and I've met plenty of perfectly nice players in real life who I struggled to get on with in the MUD.

Lorna: When it came to playing, how did you both control the amount of time you played in a MUD, if you did, and did it help any?

Ali: I actually managed real life fine - I got my A-levels and my degree while MUDding. I do regret not using my time a bit more productively, though -- if I started playing again, I'd try not to end up logged in for four hours every night.

Paul: My record was thirty six hours. I did manage to get a bit more balance in later years.

Lorna: Do you think playing MUDs has helped you with anything involving university or life in general through the years you have played them?

Ali: I wrote about MUDs (and other forms of digital fiction, like fanfiction and hypertexts) as part of my degree. More broadly, I learned loads about interacting online and about how online communities work - which really helps me in my freelancing today. I also learned to touch type! And for the past couple of years, I've been working on a novel which is set around a MUD and a group of players.

Paul: I did some work on online communities in my Politics degree. Plus, you know, I met my wife on a MUD.

Lorna: Through the years we have had many 'meets' relating and revolving around the MUDs we used to play, and they have evolved into just meeting up with friends. Do you have any advice for others who are trying to organize a get together with a group from a MUD?

Paul: Never organize anything. Always get someone else to do it.

Ali: I like organizing things, fortunately! I'd suggest setting a date well in advance, trying to find somewhere that's easy for most people to get to, staying in the same hotel/B&B/etc if you can... Also, cakes/cookies are always popular with MUD players!

Lorna: How did it feel meeting everyone for the first time?

Paul: I already knew a couple of people in real life, as it were, so it was fairly easy for me because I ended up just chatting and drinking with them...

Ali: I was really quiet and shy at the first meet I went to. Which is really unlike me, as anyone who knows me can attest. It was really fun, though! Some people looked totally different to how I'd expected - including a few who were blokes playing female characters, and so on...

Lorna: When people ask, how do you explain to them how you both first met?

Ali: We just tell them that we met in an online game. Sometimes they look puzzled. It seems to be getting a bit more normal now.

Lorna: Did the thought ever cross your mind to have a MUD themed wedding?

Paul: I wanted armour.

Ali: We had a book-themed wedding, which was the next best thing!

Lorna: Thank you both for the interview!

Forget eHarmony, give some text-based RPGs a try and find your true soulmate with zero stress and lots of text game fun along the way!

Lorna Cowie is a text game enthusiast and currently plays games from

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My story is kinda insane. I had met a guy at work that played Achaea and we started a relationship and he got me hooked on the game. Starting out, I made lots of friends and one of them was a guy nearby. After I had broken up with my boyfriend at the time, my friend and I met up since he lived a few miles away. Now we're married and have 2 kids (One of which turned 1 on St Patrick's day- day before our 3 year wedding anniversary) 

Aww, shucks.

Twue wuv...

I have played MUDs and related text-based games since I was a kid. I had never really made close connections with people outside of the MUD until I started playing IRE. 


During the 7 or so years I played Imperian, I met a cadre of amazing people that I am still close with. Most importantly, I met my life partner. The first time I encountered him in the game, he was getting ready to completely own my city in a raid that had to be stopped by the Divine after a week of utter carnage. After a very brief encounter, I was fascinated by him and decided I wanted to interact more if I got the chance. A year or so later, I did. He became a good friend in the game, which eventually moved to friendship outside of it. 

My partner is wheel-chair bound and has an uncurable degenerative condition. When we first became friends, he had been given a life expectancy of mid-to-late 20s. I was busy trying to convince him to live his life, regardless of a 'due date'. Somehow or another, unexpectedly, we ended up very attached. We were living together a year or so later, and in the course of our now 5 year relationship he has completely reversed the direction of his life. He's on the path to a Master's degree, he is managing his condition much better -and- with a more engaged doctor his diagnosis has been changed to one that puts the life expectancy out to 60+ years. He is engaged in life and putting his brilliant mind to use.  I'm constantly amazed at how well we get along. I can truly say he is my best friend, and I am grateful for his presence in my life every day. Even several years down the road, it keeps getting better. 

Now, our relationship is atypical. We are polyamorous which means that we are able to have multiple commited relationships. It is not the same as having an 'open' relationship where folks can do what they want. It orients around love and commited relationships rather than happy flings. In any case, now  I am also in a relationship with a second IRE man. Originally he was my character's God, she was his OH. After he stepped down from the role, he decided he really wanted to know the supremely amazing chick who'd rocked his order, so he used his game connections to find out my contact info. We were friends for about two years before it became more. I feel incredibly blessed to have two brilliant, passionate, creative, and generally rockin' men in my life. I've dated plenty of folks through 'normal' means, but my accidental successes through IRE have been far greater than my best efforts through more mundane means. 

Even if it does make people look at us funny when we answer, "How did you meet?" 



Excellent article and congratulations to the happy couple! 


When I first began in Achaea 8 years ago, my first husband was somewhat worried that I might stray, to combat this he enlisted his best friends to "keep me company".  Which I found translated to "try to sleep with her, see if she'll cheat."   Needless to say, this is how I met my man.  What started as a friendship in character, soon blossomed to a bond out of character.  He left Achaea for several years, but that did nothing to cool the friendship between us.  He has since returned to the game with a new character, who oddly enough happens to be Tekla's grandson. We've been living together for nearly two years now, and going strong. 

Seems like that backfired on him then.

Good to know that you're going strong with the new guy though.

Perhaps slightly histrionic but my romantic relationship that came from Imperian resulted in epic doom and quite possibly turned me away from long-distance relationships permanently. Our relationship in-game was a year in the making (maybe even longer) that was really very sweet with poetry and letters and star-crossed love. We started speaking through out-of-character means and ultimately we started chatting on the phone. We'd spend hours and hours talking about nothing every day, and there was a day that we both realized that whatever we felt was something more than platonic affection.

It was doomed from the start, in hindsight. She was eight hours away and at my age, with enough years between us to be potentially awkward. We both had complicated situations and were about to embark on new paths in our lives. Suffice to say, there was significant trouble between us and we are no longer speaking. Our characters, however, remain married because no matter what happened between her player and I, I can't bring myself to split up these two characters that worked so, so hard to be together.

Romantic relationship aside, I have forged amazing friendships with a handful of characters from Imperian over the last four years. One player in particular has become a cornerstone in my life, and we talk daily, and the transition from online to real life felt seamless when we met face-to-face for the first time last year. She is somebody that I hope to keep in my life for a long while. 

Alright, my story is pretty bittersweet, real heavy on the bitter, so those of you that are prone to getting teary eyed should probably just skip ahead to the next comment.

It all started when my main character got shrubbed because of some...complications, so as I sat at my computer, bored, and with nothing to do, I decided to make Ryadan.  As soon as I walked into Tyrandiel's little nook to learn my first lessons, I encountered an occultist and we just kinda started talking.  We actually bashed heads pretty hard at first; she called me a sheep, I told her to dislodge the stick from a certain unmentionable oriface.  And two seconds after I stormed off, I decided to come back.  Why?  I don't have a clue.

Fast forward through the parts you already probably know, our characters spent some time together, became friends, then became lovers, and as the relationship progressed, it sorta bled out into an OOC friendship and relationship.  Words cannot express how I felt about her.  Any girls I dated in the past, I usually got bored of after a week or so, but she was different.  She could hold my attention all day every day, and she did just that.  Before I babble any further, let me just say that she was...everything I could ever want in a partner.

The time we spent together was easily the best days of my life, but, here comes the bitter part, she passed away from a chronic heart condition, leaving me absolutely crushed.  But, I'm not sorry it's over.  I will always cherish the time I had with her, I take comfort and knowing that even though it was so terribly brief, I got to experience something that most people spend their whole lives searching for, and finally, picking up the broken pieces of myself has led me to know myself and love myself more than I ever have before.

So, not the traditional happily ever after, and definitely not the one I would've wanted, but, well, se la vi.

(Reposted and expanded from Facebook)  In 1988 I lived on Long Island, and I met
someone who lived in Alaska, in a chat-based roleplaying game (run by a
GM, using Runequest rules) on the Quantum Link network for Commodore 64
users. This was long, long before the Internet was widely available to anyone outside of universities and research centers, and when home computers were pretty rare, and no one had even heard of the idea of a long distance romance or meeting someone on a computer network.  I moved to Alaska by the end of that year; we were married in 1990, and we recently held a 20th anniversary
vow renewal.

I met my boyfriend in a graphical MMO, but I still want to share my story as someone may find it inspirational.

We were friends for a long time already, and would go out and bash every day, and eventually we decided to meet up and it just sort of clicked after meeting up a few more times.

It wasn't all that easy though, me being 16 and he 18 and living over two hours away from each other. Real life eventually forced a break into the relationship, as he had an illness that back then was no cure for, and I had a lot of trouble of my own going.

There was a point at which contact vanished completely but eventually that was taken up again, and a cure was found for his condition. This all was not without its worries, he did lose both kidneys and received a donor kidney, but being able to go without medication that caused all this damage and caused major withdrawal issues is a blessing still. We remained good friends and eventually ended up meeting again at a guild meet from WoW. Everyone could tell that there was still some deep caring we showed for each other. Hardships on my side soon after could have risked a second split, but instead now that we were older they were what brought us closer than ever.

We are now happily living together in our own house, our lives back on the rails for both, and looking at a great future together.

I believe that long-distance relationships can certainly work, I've seen it around me, but it takes a good deal of commitment and trust. Because of this though those that succeed the trial will have a very solid foundation to build upon. As for the meeting up in an "unusual" place or manner? These days with social media and what not, it is becoming all the more common. And it makes for an interesting story. I know many people who are slightly envious of that. So do not feel embarrassed and make up a fake story. But do be warned that when you embark upon this path it isn't an easy one. But easy is boring, no?

As you can see from the article, I do adore my friends. Ali and Paul have been dear friends to me for a long long time, and we still get together with other ex-MUDers several times in the year (we are all spaced out in the country).

My man? No. I met him at LARP! Just as geeky, only when you get hit the bruises are real! I have had a few relations through MUD, but none have worked out for me. I am happy with my man, and happy he plays WoW so I have time to MUD!

LARP..... O.o

WoW vs IRE Muds is a joke. IRE Muds have so much more interaction while WoW is.. graphical

Lendren related just the barest facts.  I wanted to expand a little bit.  We met informally in a chat room for gamers around Marchish of 1988.  We started playing the roleplaying game online a couple of months later, IIRC.  It was during the game that we got romantically interested.  We started calling each other, sending letters and cards (practically daily sometimes), and we spoke for hours and hours.  This was back when being online had a PER MINUTE CHARGE!!  We racked up some nasty phone and online bills. 

You kids these days don't know how much easier you have it with long distance relationships what with web cams, cell phones, free long distance, and Skype. ;D

This went on for several months and then I got the news that my roommates were moving out of state, so I needed someone to help share rent costs, and I knew he was looking to move out of his mother's house to some wilderness-y area.  We sure had that in Alaska. So I asked him if he'd consider moving out with me.  We'd both known people who had met and who hadn't gotten along, so we decided even if the romance didn't work out, we had enough in common we could be friends.

He thought about it and said he'd like to give it a go.  He started saving up money for the move.  Finally, on Dec. 5, 1988, he arrived on the ferry in Juneau, AK.  The way I fell in love with him immediately from the moment I saw him is a sorta gooey romance story, and he finds it embarassing so I won't relate it in detail.  I think he was so culture-shocked, never having lived anywhere but on Long Island, that it took him a few hours, maybe days, to realize he loved me too. :)

We've been together for 22 years, and married for 20 years.  I can't imagine my life without him, and I know I'm a much better person because of him.

I was playing Achaea but my best friend introduced me to Imperian. In Imperian, I ran into this fellow. Everytime he would see me, he would shield throw me back to him. I lived in Kinsarmar (Usa) and he lived in Antioch (Australia) but we met. We have since been happily oocly married for 7 years in April, I am currently in Australia (which is like Antioch) and had I not been a bumbling novice that bumped into him on this game, we may not have met. I'm Ivoria Kei'daan and that was the all mighty lady killer Caius Kei'daan that I speak of.Thank you IRE for introducing me to my soulmate both icly and oocly.

What's really striking me in these comments is the number of cases where one of the people has been seriously ill/disabled. I suppose MUDs are a good (the best?) way for such people to meet other people.

It seems like it'd be one of the best, although I don't know if MUDS have anything over anything else on the internet.

MUDs have a HUGE social aspect indeed. Most of the people that play them are very smart. You make friends and you make enemies. I've met aqauintances, friends, enemies and mates on them. In my opionion the mate thing will only every work if you are already close to eachother but who knows! Things do happen and have happened. I've been trying to get my wife to play one, it's hard with her but she likes to read so much that I thik she would like it! She recently made a character on Midkemia since I believe she would do good in a smaller populated, simple, young MUD. Maybe one day she'll like them.

...and also everyone else that have had similar meetings. There is potential for deep bonding in mudds even if its just from character to character to a point, where a deeper bond forms irl.

>Ali: In fact, that's the first time I remember meeting him in the game. He was playing a 12 year old girl at the time...


Clearly it was love at first sight.

My son and his daughter and law are actually engaged in real life. Cool stuff.

I would say no, but that's personal opinion

I met my wife on Achaea in 2006. We got married in 2008, and we had our son this past november. It happens.

I think this is starting to become the norm really. One of the advantages of not being able to see the person is getting a good idea of a person's OOC character without judging them physically. Of course, this can lead to problems when meeting the person face to face but it does help out those people who tend to have a 'shy' personality.

Another advantage is that it crosses boundries both physical ones and cultural ones as well. A person that you would have no way of meeting because they live on the other side of the planet or country can easily be done within a MUD. So, essentially you increase the opportunity to meet people within an environment where everyone have similar interests. Fear is removed from the equation.

Funny, I find that I am more shy in the MUD (and on the internet in general) than in RL.  Maybe I'm the only one... guess it's good my boyfriend got me into playing after we met rather than me trying to meet someone IG.


But overall, I think this whole thing is really sweet.  It's amazing to be able to get to know someone so well by IC interactions that it makes you want to go out of your way to meet them IRL, and to form a meaningful relationship.  It makes me wish I did start playing earlier in life!

I try to break RP as little as possible, so I don't actually know the people I play Lusternia with. I'm in a country where not a lot of people play MUds too, so meeting up is not really an option anyway.

you do hear an aweful lot of happily ever afters from MUDs it seems.

I wonder how many people can say that after playing MMORPGs ..

Having personally watched WoW tear apart a few relationships (and in at least one case, a person's entire life outside of game)... not many, let alone per-capita... of course, WoW has a higher ratio of 'Fyre/Eryf' (aka mildly amusing trollin 'noob' alt) in general too... but rare as they may be, they do exist if I'm to believe a tale or two I've heard. MUDs simply push a level of interaction that's lacking most other places.



That's about all I can think of to say, too.

relationships in MUds scare me =( but yeah thats me

Mostly.. because people when they sit behind a computer think they can portray themselves as anything they really wish to, and because of this, most don't feel they need to be completely honest with another.. that they can hide things.


Certain people need that honesty. I am one of them. Thats why I feel that long distance relationships rarely work. Until you are WITH a person, you cannot truly learn who a person is. HOWEVER, I see a potential there too, IF both people are willing to work towards meeting in person and being with each other.

I know quite a few real-life couples who play, and also quite a few who met in the game. It can be quite a family thing... some of IRE's games even have Divine power couples! *grin*

I have made many friends over the years. Happily ever after is such a broad term. I tend to roleplay my characters to keep me wanting to return. Happily ever after doesn't happen for me. I'm so addicted to roleplaying MUDs that if one should bore me to the point of no return, I start shopping for another.


I try to stay with IRE though... you guys have THE BEST games I've ever seen. I've been in MUDs since 1997 and to tell you the truth, IRE wins my vote every time. There's something about the complete immersion into a fantasy world that gets me. Roleplaying, combat, bashing... I can go at it for hours without being bored. Thanks, guys!

If only people in my country plays more, but stories like these I enjoy.

I would like having friends play play muds

The only thing I regret doing as Neia is breaking RP and going OOC with friends. :/ I'm glad for the friends I've made but I still wonder if I'd have been better off keeping everything purely IC.

I often chat about things out of character when I find that some people have things in common with me, and it makes me get "excessively" OOC: that is, more OOC with that person than I originally intended. I've found out that some people who play the game are much more interesting than what I could usually expect online, but sometimes I feel a bit strange conversing OOC in tells.

To your friends, Happy endings are always good.

Great story! Games have a knack of bringing people together

I'm digging the Playboy-style interviews lately

Great story. Most interesting if you are researching about the people who play MUDs

I knew two people who met in a smilar fashion through an online game. They could only afford to see eachother once a month for almost a year so they were always in the game just hanging around. It was nice to see, and I hope it eventually ended well for the both of them.

Haha "I wanted armour" That's a good one!

Armour is better than marriage

Internet relationships are becoming more common in this sort of social circle, and it's no surprise MUDs aren't an exception.  It's sort of to be expected with how connected the world has become, and it's good to see some awesome relationships spring out of it. Congratulations to all who have found their better half online!

I never thought about meeting someone through a mud client.  Just doesn't interest me that much.


Majority of my friends, I met through Achaea, Lusternia, or even Midkemia Online. I have, overall, much more friends now than I ever had in my entire life thanks to MUDding

I've met quite a few people who I found in MUDs and other online role playing. Even had one fairly serious relationship start from it.


If you get past the 'oh it's just online' thing, it can be very rewarding.

I haven't had as great of experiences meeting people 'IRL' but I also haven't tried much. Congratz to Ali and Paul though!

My story is boring...i jsut play MUDs.  I cant get my wife to play them no matter what I do.  She loves to read which is the first obstacle to overcome, I think she could be a natural. 

Alas, she will not play.

A lot of really cool stories though.  I enjoyed reading some of them as well as the article.

So much for that! You got me to play, and now I'm completed addicted! I totally blame you. =P

a long distance relationship remains relatively the same. However, there is one wee advantage over phone and texting, which is the ability to interact with one another in virtual space. Still a hit or miss and it's always best to remain skeptical about anything beyond the range of friendship.

I find it very intimidating to face people in real life. Maybe it is just paranoid delusion, but one of the things I have always liked about MMOs in general is that you have anonimity.

I completely agree. I like to hide behind my chars :D

Never met anyone from any MUDs in real life. So sue me!

I had no idea that this kind of stuff was even mildly commonplace.

Me either!

I find often that a happily ever after story occurs before the couple started playing the mud. One person in the couple convinces the other to start MUDing and they continue that relationship in-game. But, I can definetely see how someone can enter a meaningful relationship through a MUD relationship, it requires more thoughtful interaction then some shallow 3d video game mmo.

I have to admit I've -not- had the 'happily' aspect of the ever after with MY MUD-formed real-life relationships, and I've had a couple. Fortunately, other than a (thankfully temporary) aversion to whichever MUD it was that led me to the relationship, it hasn't been any different than meeting someone at school, work, shopping, a club, wherever, and having it go south - some things just aren't meant to be.

Well, I never had a happily-ever-after relationship experience with a MUD...I did have a semi-long distance relationship that did not work out with a person whom I met through...well actually it was the first of the IRE MUDS that I had played and still play though not Aetolia. While it didn't work out between us I still wish him the best of luck. Really I don't see meeting someone online as being any different than meeting someone somewhere in "real life". People go on about how the person could be lying, how you don't really know them...and yet cannot people in "real life" lie just as easily? Can you not know a person in real life just as easily as over the internet? So I guess, to me, it is not as big a deal as some make it out to be.

nice to see things work out

I know of a handful of couples who met on IRE games and either are with or married to each other, and while in such a relationship myself I must insist that while long-distance or doing an internet relationship isn't impossible, it is incredibly straining. Props to everyone who's stuck it out. :)

There's also social weirdness when people ask how you meet, but I never try to hide my nerdiness.

Interesting interview, I can relate to being at uni and trying to balance muds, friends, town and grades.

I almost met a girl from a game once. Turned out she was sort of crazy. Kind of glad I didn't.

Great story!


I made out with wasn't quite what I expected..

an interesting read

And that's where I want it to stay. 



Somedays I get scared when people go OOC and head down that route.  A little kindness to your character does not mean I am ready to deal with your emotional baggage and then leave my wife and kids for you.  It was just a little kindness to your character

It is possible to meet friends whenever there is interaction. So why not in an IRE game.

Been playing them on and off for a long time and most of the people I have met that got married through them are divoriced. Not sure if that is a statistic or not! just my experience.

Thats nice :)

so the only happily ever after is irl?

Doesn't happen

I'm happy for those who can find true love anywhere!

met my guy in Achaea too. We were friends for several years first, he moved across the country to be here with me and we've now been together 2.5 years.