A Rape in Cyberspace

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A Rape in Cyberspace, originally published in 1993 in the Village Voice, later it was reprinted as the first chapter in Julian Dibbell's book My Tiny Life: Crime and Passion in a Virtual World[1] (1998) View the full text here[2]



  • virtual life
  • community

Summary of issues raised in the text or texts:

The text is about the game LambdaMOO, a MUD or MOO, founded in 1990. It was a text based fantasy game. In the game no bodies touched but he also talkes about whatever physical interaction occured consisted of a mingling of electronic signals sent from sites spread out between different cities, these signals meet in LambdaMOO.

The rape happened in this game, whether it is a real rape is to be discussed. Because of what he said about what the puppets in the game are representing: a meat puppet or a word puppet. Witch are not nearly as significant a distinction as one might have thought.

A newbie in de MUD-world experiences that what happens inside a MUD-made world is neither exactly real nor exactly make-believe, but nonetheless profoundly, compellingly, and emotionally true.

Due to the rape and the commotion it made in the community, the wizards (gods) change the rules. The wizards become solely technicians. The writer was there at the meeting where the discussion about the rape was held. He says: that he was even more so by the notion that anyone could take it altogether seriously.

Throughout the rest of the text, he gets more and more obsessed by the rape and the consequences it had in this world.

He discusses different opinions why it was a real rape or just a harmless encounter. Like that the mind is part of the body and in MOO, the body is the mind. So, a rape in MOO, would count as a rape of the physical body.

He classifies Mr Bungle, the rapist, as a sociopath. And explains how mr bungle made his experience of LambdaMOO a richer one.

He ends with, that nothing in the MOO was ever quite what one imagened it to be. And that his imagination of the sociopath Mr. Bungle was also not quite true, it was a group of students.

Discussion Notes & Afterthoughts:

  • object oriented game
  • text-based is more intimate
  • assumption of rules
  • sabotage or playing the players
  • concequences in virtual life
  • negotiate social situation