Muddled Times
Issue:Issue 30, June 2005

When is a witch not a witch?

When she's a wizard!

Some people get quite upset over the use of the terms "wizard" and "witch" in MUDII. In certain circles the term "wizard" refers to a magical being of either gender. If you point out that on MUD2 female wizzes are witches, not wizards, some players get aggravated by this apparent incorrect use of the word. does suggest that a wizard can be of either gender:

However, this is not the real world. If MUD2 followed the definitions in all sorcerers and magicians would be wizards and therefore immortal too!

Normally it’s the term "wizard" that is in dispute but then I received the following response to one of the questions in the Gender Questionnaire:

     Q15. Do you perceive there to be any difference between a wizard and witch?

     A15. Not technically … and witch should be a unisex name anyhow. Please read the oxford dictionary!

So I did, well I read the closest online version I could find. I had a look here and this is what I found:

I also did the same for wizard:

So we’re safe as far as the Compact Oxford English Dictionary is concerned. I had a look at Webster’s Dictionary as well though:

So yes, the term wizard and witch can be used to refer to someone of either gender depending on the context.

But this is not the real world, or that of or Webster’s or Oxford. This is the world of MUD2 created by Richard Bartle and Roy Trubshaw. I therefore contacted Richard to find out why he used the terms witch and wizard. The following article comprises his reply.

And the moral of this story? Don't tell a witch that she's really a wizard.

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