The door game was a primitive text only game that ran on many early bulletin board systems. The word "door" was commonly used in the bbs door game, and thus the average door game would be called something like 'mafiadoor.' In the popular mafiadoor example, the user would play a mafia crime boss who attempts to build his stature by engaging in various mob activities.
Door play represented an innovate way of engaging the user considering the limited technology that was available at the time. Of course, in the mid 80s to early 90s any sort of graphic intensive game was impossible to run on a home computer, and even if it was it would be impossible to play anything but a door game on an average bbs. Door play was a brilliant concept as it involved nothing other than text being exchanged between the player and the bbs door game server.
A user engaged in door play by being present with a certain number of options in text form and then choosing one. The door game worked using a central engine that ran on the bbs and calculated various responses to the users actions. Door play worked on the simple concept that most board games work on: a limited amount of actions are available at any given moment, and the result of actions is based on some kind of chance (a dice roll in 'real' board games.)
For example, a user engaging in door play would enter a BBS and log onto mafia door. To start they would be a lowly figure in the crime enterprise and be looking for ways to rise to the top. When starting a door game like mafiadoor, the user would have a very limited amount of options to begin: they could choose for example, the way to use their limited resources to loan money for extortion purposes, to buy some prostitutes or engage in drug activity. In door play, once the user has selected an action, an equation involving chance would be run on the BBS end, and a result of the user's action would be presented to him, along with new choices. Usually in door play a paragraph of text would represent the result of the action and its effect on the user's income and status within the mafia community.
What made door play so appealing to BBS users was the fact that a profile was created when they started the game, and they could stop whenever they liked and continue from where they left off then ext time they logged onto the BBS. There was no start and finish to door play as such, and many BBS users could spend many hours building up their status within the game. Because profiles were logged and saved, users were able to see each other's positions in the door games, and it thus became an enjoyable and competitive pastime for many BBS users.
Like the BBS itself, the door game is now a thing of the past, but (again like the BBS itself) it was in many ways the precursor to the massive online multiplayer games we see on the internet today. Although the technology was primitive, door play was in concept identical to online multiplayer games, where many users' create characters over many game sessions that are able to interact with other, and like bbs door play, multiplayer online games have proven to be extremely engaging for many players.