God or Goddess, in MUDs, often refers to an administrator of a MUD server, most typically the owner. Sometimes multiple individuals with the title of God are present, or the term may even be applied to all administrative and development staff, but it is usual for the term to refer to the most senior administrator. A similar term, mostly used in DikuMUDs, is implementer, or "imp".
The appearance of entities referred to as "gods" in a MUD does not necessarily mean that this usage of the word is being applied; the word's ordinary usage is also frequently in evidence, referring to non-player character gods or even non-administrative player character gods.
Historically the term God was not the original usage for either the player end game or sysadmin status in MUDs with Rob Roy Trubshaw and Richard Bartles seminal 1978 and 1985 MUD1 & 2 using Wizard (MUD). many contemporary games of the era such as Shades (1985), Mirrorworld (1986) also using Wizard or Arch Wizard. The first apparent use was in the 1988 Lap of the Gods authored by Ben Laurie although its original non commercial version was released in 1985.
Avalon: The Legend Lives in 1989 evolved this concept even further pioneering the introduction of player Gods associated with stylised spheres (Stars, War, Fire etc) with fully developed structural religious systems including player priests, followers and methods of prayer and offering. The gods are appointed not by amassing treasure or points but via either competitive ordination, often player vs player ordination or through dominance or merit within the game-world. Importantly as noted by Richard Bartle Avalon was the first to pioneer this concept of player gods in that they remained within the fiction of the world rather than as sysadmins. To date Avalon has competitively Ordained ten gods and appointed a variety of others, the first in 1989 and the last in 2015.
Discussion of MUD Gods frequently touches on the absolute power individuals assuming this title typically have over the virtual environment. A common conflict in MUDs occurs between an administrator who uses this power in an arbitrary and capricious fashion and others who believe standards of fairness should be upheld. MUD-related works often warn prospective players against annoying a God, citing the lack of behavioral constraint on this sort of figure.
- Hahn, Harley (1996). The Internet Complete Reference (2nd ed.). Osborne McGraw-Hill. p. 559. ISBN 0-07-882138-X.
Common names for an admin are a GOD, an ARCH, a WIZARD or an IMP (short for implementer).
- Ito, Mizuko (1997). "Virtually Embodied: The Reality of Fantasy in a Multi-User Dungeon". In Porter, David. Internet Culture (pbk. ed.). Routledge. p. 90. ISBN 0-415-91684-4.
Above players in the MUD hierarchy are wizards, who have gained the highest levels and accomplished all the quests, and are responsible for actually building the MUD environment and administering the MUD. [...] Highest-level wizards are often called Gods and, as the name implies, have near absolute power to implement decisions on their MUDs.
- Levine, John R. (1997). More Internet for Dummies. IDG Books. p. 196. ISBN 0-7645-0135-6.
Each MUD has folks who are in charge of running it and enforcing its rules. These people are called wizards or gods, and you had better be nice to them.
- Busey, Andrew (1995). Secrets of the MUD Wizards. SAMS Publishing. p. 208. ISBN 0-672-30723-5.
Gods are those who own the database—the administrators. In most MUDs, Wizards are barely distinguishable from Gods—they're barely one step down from the God of the MUD. [...] Gods can do whatever they want to whomever they want whenever they want—it's their MUD.
- Shefski, William J. (1995). Interactive Internet: The Insider's Guide to MUDs, MOOs, and IRC. Prima Publishing. pp. 70, 73–74. ISBN 1-55958-748-2.
[pp. 70] OC, or Out of Character, issues fall under the basic laws governing system administrators everywhere, not just on MUDs. But only on MUDs is it normal for these folks to openly call themselves gods. [pp. 73-74] Elizabeth Reid [...] states: Gods and wizards may be the ultimate power within each MUD universe, and may often be the subject of respect and even fawning [...] The potential for abuse of power and for unfair treatment of players can create resentment, particularly when there is a conflict between individuals who feel that gods and wizards have a duty to behave fairly and those who feel that the administrator of a MUD system has the right to do with it as he or she likes.
- Shah, Rawn; Romine, James (1995). Playing MUDs on the Internet. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. p. 228. ISBN 0-471-11633-5.
The Gods are the highest-level Wizards. Very often, the player who owns or runs the Mud is a God or even the Head God. [...] Just remember, the Gods do have the ability to simply annihilate everything they want and shut down the Mud for good if they like [...]
- Bartle, Richard (2015-12-15). "Legacy Reviews of MUA and MUDS". Retrieved 2015-12-14.
- Bartle, Richard. "Why Governments aren't Gods and God's aren't Governments". Retrieved 2015-12-16.