An economic analysis of Dwarf Fortress; The most complicated game in the world

Dwarf Fortress, which a simple Google search identifies as perhaps "the most complex game in the world," is more than It has been constantly updated by two brothers for ten years, and its popularity and complexity are increasing as well. In Dwarf Fortress, there is no final goal and objective that anyone can think of as a winner by reaching it. All the realms that are built will be destroyed one day, some later, some sooner. But the motto of the game is: "Losing is fun." And for its fans who have been following it since 2006, there is probably no greater pleasure than watching the collapse of the buildings they built.

BingMag.com An economic analysis of Dwarf Fortress; The most complicated game in the world

Dwarf Fortress, which a simple Google search identifies as perhaps "the most complex game in the world," is more than It has been constantly updated by two brothers for ten years, and its popularity and complexity are increasing as well. In Dwarf Fortress, there is no final goal and objective that anyone can think of as a winner by reaching it. All the realms that are built will be destroyed one day, some later, some sooner. But the motto of the game is: "Losing is fun." And for its fans who have been following it since 2006, there is probably no greater pleasure than watching the collapse of the buildings they built.

In this article, two texts from two different authors have been selected. which analyze it from an economic point of view. Matthjis Krul's short essay that comes at the beginning of the work examines it according to his Marxist view on the structure of feudalism, and the second text, which is longer and produced by YouTube channel Huntress X Thompson, calls it an anarcho-communist work.

One of the basic parts of Marxist theorizing about history, more commonly known by the philosophical thesis as "historical materialism", hierarchizes the various modes of production. Every method of production is basically, and more or less, mixed with the totality of social relations, as it contributes to the stability and durability of that society due to the type of division of labor and its production techniques. Each of them is reproduced based on the "laws of movement" of that type of division of labor and production techniques, regardless of the mental concepts of the society and the role of each applicable component within it, which leads to such stability and durability and reaches the production of goods.

The division of history into different periods, according to the model used in Marx's own time, first began with the period of primitiveness and human savagery (or "primitive communism"), then feudalism, and finally Capitalism was coming, even though non-European societies were considered separate from this path and called it the "Asian mode of production". After a century and a half of historical analysis and re-examination of this theory, the foundations of such a division are weaker than ever. But two of the most studied types of production are probably among the most acceptable and stable concepts we have: feudalism and capitalism. But how to understand these? For capitalism, it is enough to refer to Karl Marx's "Capital" itself and the vast literature that followed. Feudalism, on the other hand, has been less discussed about its characteristics - the focal point of discussions about feudalism is more focused on the discussion about the transition from feudalism to capitalism, and not the description of feudalism itself, which is true to its essence, as, for example, Marx's microscopic masterpiece on capitalism did. /p> BingMag.com An economic analysis of Dwarf Fortress; The most complicated game in the world

The organization of work in a fortress basically shows the nature of a feudal society. Is. Any Dwarf, male or female, can be assigned to any task equally. The question of who is to do what is a question that leads to the creation of a whole set of social contracts to determine what possible economic activity (which leads to the production and survival of the fortress) each Dwarf should be restricted to. Dwarves live and die in this limited range of work, and are defined by it (be they millers, miners, cheesemakers, or farmers). Unlike the capitalist mode of production, this process is a more or less natural convention imposed by the player on the dwarves from the top down, without the slightest degree of competition between the dwarves themselves.

However, the game Dwarf Fortress can be analyzed in the Marxist framework, precisely because its relationship with the central features of the feudal mode of production can be examined*. This issue can be understood by looking at the central dynamics of the game itself: the division of labor, the reproductions of dwarven societies, the economic and trade system, and the outcome of all these. The first feature is the organization of dwarves' work. First, they start their work as a small group of explorers who have migrated to a new land, and by taking a part of this world, which is more or less "terra nullius", they make it the place of their daily life. This is how all games start in Dwarf Fortress (assuming it's in Fortress mode), and it very clearly shows the nature of social expansion under a feudalistic mode of production. An example is the low population density that makes such expansion possible, but the more important feature is the goal itself of migrating and settling in a new territory. pre-existing you are always sent as a party coming from a large stronghold elsewhere, and your external relations with other dwarves in the new realm generally remain confined to that stronghold. Although your new location is independent and self-sufficient, and the relationship with the mother and main fortress is often based on data And it remains the same, but the goal of the game, despite all the high freedom of action that it puts in front of the player, is for him to rebuild the original fortress from which he was sent in a new territory. In other words, in Dwarf Fortress, you are reproducing and reproducing the existing structure of Dwarf society only on a different quantitative scale [that is, in another place]. Being able to allocate different resources to this and that sector , in no way similar to the city-state colonies of the ancient world, nor even to the manner in which the pagans of Eastern Europe were forcibly relocated by Franco-German feudal societies in the Middle Ages. The goblins and kobolds that keep attacking your fortress are also never portrayed as a distinct community [unless like primitive, uncivilized bandits], which is more or less like the half-breed relationships of the medieval chieftains that existed in these lands. And they had not yet come under the subjugation of the Franks.

Now, the organization of work in a fortress basically shows the nature of a feudal society. Any Dwarf, male or female, can be assigned to any task equally. The question of who is to do what is a question that leads to the creation of a whole set of social contracts to determine what possible economic activity (which leads to the production and survival of the fortress) each Dwarf should be restricted to. Dwarves live and die in this limited range of work, and are defined by it (be they millers, miners, cheesemakers, or farmers). Unlike the capitalist mode of production, this process is a more or less natural contract imposed by the player on the dwarves from the top down, without the slightest degree of competition between the dwarves themselves, let alone creating a labor market between them. In fact, in the current version, dwarves are not paid for what they do, but things like high-quality food and water, adequate accommodation, and valuable and eye-catching decorations for the fortress. This is another feature of the feudal society in setting boundaries for needs through customs and the strong role of trade, for example, in maintaining the division of labor, especially considering the technological limitations that leave little room for maneuver in the movement and regulation of manufactured goods.

BingMag.com An economic analysis of Dwarf Fortress; The most complicated game in the world

The military structure of the Dwarf fortress is something that most The typical European feudal societies were eliminated, and in this respect it is perhaps more in line with the experiences of modern societies than in Western Europe and feudal Japan. In the sense that, instead of dwarves doing military service and receiving lordly land as a reward; Dwarfs employed in the everyday economy are conscripted into conscription, which is somewhat unnecessaryso if the loss in war is heavy, as it usually is in Dwarf Fortresses and those primitive battles, the output of the society does not drop too much. Undoubtedly, the commander of the soldiers is from the elite class and his demands are due to his position, but he has no special and short-term power over the production of the society's own goods.

This aspect can also be seen in the hierarchy within this division of labor. Dwarf society is more egalitarian than human feudal societies, but there is still hierarchy within it, both directly and indirectly. Some social functions are determined by a Dwarf's parentage [such as nobility], and as a result Dwarf expectations of a standard of living are defined solely by consumption. They have nothing to do with accumulating wealth and seeing it as a work of value (just the opposite of capitalism). Instead, it is managers and brokers and mayors and other notable businesses who mutually seek to enlarge their living quarters and allocate rooms for reception and offices and so on. This is not so different from the larger buildings and larger meals that humans usurped for themselves in feudal societies: the largest share went to the clergy and the knights (who were always used to raiding to enforce their claim to the land), and then the landowners and Judges etc. In fact, a fortress large enough from the main fortress has the right to appoint a baron, and this baron has a parasitic life, and his demand for consumption is higher than that of others (1) and indeed, if the player In his colony, he will not take this step to strengthen the upper feudal relations (corresponding to the same movement from the early to the late Middle Ages in the real world), it will be seen as an attack against the main stronghold! (2)

Remarkable In this case, previous versions of the game had a monetary economy, and dwarves were paid for their work and could buy the goods they collectively produced. But there was a contradiction between the common ownership of the dwarves' means of production and the commodity-oriented nature of such an economy, and it had become something unworkable in the game. The game designers completely removed this mechanism and after that you can only mint coins, which serves no purpose. (Of course, it could be argued that coinage as a king's right, apart from his prestige, after It was the era of mercantilism that further established and strengthened the absolute monarchy (4) [for this reason, it is natural that coinage by the ruler and in a feudal society is not very fruitful]). Trade, of course, still exists, as it did in all feudal societies. In the historical feudal form, long distances had to be traveled in specific seasons and with specific and limited partners to conduct trade. These trades were also carried out in the medieval parts of Italy and France, which were held at certain annual intervals. Much of this trade was for the exchange of valuable resources, luxury goods, and stockpiled essentials. Of course, it was also very prosperous for the commercial capital (as it was involved in this trade) without, for the most part, wanting to injure the production of other communities. accepted by that society were bought (for example, dwarves' pieces), according to David Graeber's observations on the nature of credit and exchange in pre-capitalist societies, here money was merely a means of account [and not a means of exchange of value]. It was not like [at the time of exchange] money left the buyer's hand and fell into the seller's hand; It was simply an agreement between the two parties on the value expended in traveling these long distances [for exchange]. Of course, from a society in which even Formal Subsumption (5) under capital has not really taken place, the exchange leads exclusively to the exchange of surplus goods - the production of surplus and beyond the need of the fortress, therefore only to sell it to others and to maintain the fortress itself. From time to time, a piece of land lacks the necessary raw materials and must be acquired by trade, but this is simply a case of equal exchange and has no further effect on how the dwarves divide up labor. Dwarves trade is not only with other dwarves, and although trading with elves and humans makes it a bit more complicated, it does not change the underlying principles.

BingMag.com An economic analysis of Dwarf Fortress; The most complicated game in the world

In all of this, the player is the one who puts together and runs this community. In Durf Fortress, the player plays the role that [sociologist] Durkheim (David Emile Durkheim) defined: the collective mental structure and image of society and its division of labor, whether it has a religious basis or some other ideological form, which represents the totality of society as a The whole enables and organizes. The long centuries that had shaped the division of labor in feudal society are carried out by the player in an objective manner and at the same time determine what role each dwarf will play. , and perhaps in this sense it is more in line with the experiences of today's societies than what happened in Western Europe and feudal Japan. In the sense that, instead of dwarves doing military service and receiving lordly land as a reward; Dwarfs employed in the everyday economy are conscripted into conscription, which is somewhat unnecessaryso if the loss in war is heavy, as it usually is in Dwarf Fortresses and those primitive battles, the output of the society does not drop too much. Undoubtedly, the commander of the soldiers is from the elite class and his demands are due to his position, but he has no special and short-term power over the production of the society's own goods. He, whether male or female, is more of a military retainer than a mediating and relatively independent feudal lord; In other words, he is more of a janissary/foot soldier than a duke Both in the army and in dwarven society in general, it is dwarven competence and training that determines their role in the social production process.

These skills often predate the establishment of the keep itself, and it can be assumed that families Other Dwarf strongholds had employed similar roles of these soldiers and commanders. It is important to note that dwarven strongholds, whether colonies or outposts, expand more by migration than naturally, although dwarves have many children and have lower infant mortality and disease compared to their human counterparts in feudal societies. It is not taboo to employ children, but dwarves are only free until they reach adulthood when they are placed in unchangeable social roles. Therefore, in the society of dwarves, young people enjoy the freedom and comfort that did not exist in most of the pre-capitalist societies of humans. However, this owes much to the nature of its fortresses as colonies rather than original fortresses. Because these colonies attract highly skilled immigrants and other less skilled but passionate tradesmen, and thus become quite different from the main strongholds.

As a result, the dwarven class structure is more of a caste-like structure, although it is looser compared to the human world. Those who serve the more or less basic production of the keep are usually freed from other duties and can work in higher roles such as metalworking, diamond cutting, mining, and woodworking, although most of the lower class dwarves work in menial jobs such as laundry. They are assigned to carry loads and cut wood. Like other feudal societies, the caste structure is the position of the individual and not the competition between individuals [or the competence they demonstrate]. Skill in a craft is the deciding factor for a dwarf living in a fortress, otherwise dwarven outposts would rather lose 9 barges but have a skilled metalsmith survive. It can be said that this is in accordance with the cultural and social distinctions that were made between classes in the real world and over time.

BingMag.com An economic analysis of Dwarf Fortress; The most complicated game in the world

It is impossible for the player to have absolute and direct control over the community. Instead, it can divide the work and divide the tasks, leaving the rest up to the dwarves to do as best they can (which they don't). The player is not the god of this world, but he has the concept of gods; He is not the commander of the fortress, but he is an ideological authority who is responsible for its social relations and its revival. Consequently, the player is the lordthe lord in the sense that Marc Bloch meant by it, the social and ideological glue that holds feudalism together. It is also placed and managed by the player himself. In Durf Fortress, the player plays the role that [sociologist] Durkheim (David Emile Durkheim) defined: the collective mental structure and image of society and its division of labor, whether it has a religious basis or some other ideological form, which represents the totality of society as a The whole enables and organizes. The long centuries that shaped the division of labor in feudal society are carried out by the player objectively and at that moment determine what role each dwarf will play. The player similarly becomes the embodiment of the clerical and judicial system itself (in its Durkheimian sense). Except for a few passing references to the dwarves' shrines for their ancestors, they are bound by their cultural norms for burial (which they are extremely sensitive about) and their rules and customs in eating; And it shows that there are traces of religion among the dwarves.

However, it is the player himself who places the dwarves in aristocratic roles and they are the ones who organize the military affairs. The player is careful to ensure that the dwarves are sufficiently comfortable within their fixed cultural-normative framework, or alienation or non-compliance with norms may lead to the collapse of the fortresswhich, if things go against the dwarves' expectations of their customary rights and positions, Undoubtedly it happens. Also, like any other imperfect "reformer" in any society and with any norms, it is impossible for the player to have absolute and direct control over the society. Instead, it can divide the work and divide the tasks, leaving the rest up to the dwarves to do as best they can (which they don't). The player is not the god of this world, but he has the concept of gods; He is not the commander of the fortress, but he is an ideological authority who is responsible for its social relations and its revival. Consequently, the player is the lordthe lord in the sense that Marc Bloch meant by it, the social and ideological glue that holds feudalism together.

According to the view of those who theorize about world systems They do, the transition to capitalism does not happen smoothly and through urban commerce. Because food production and agriculture are simply only one part of the division of labor, and its surplus is collectively shared among all, like other products of the fortress. Therefore, the basis for the creation of a large feudal landlord class (which subsequently wants to engage with the peasants) is not formed. In this sense, as noted above, the conditions are more similar to early feudalisms in Europe or certain parts of Asian feudalism than to later, more agricultural feudalism. Therefore, in order to reach capitalism, as Marxist and competing styles of historiography refer to it, two ways have been closed. Dwarves can now be sure that a feudal society will remain in the future, albeit one that is more flexible and equal than the European feudalisms of humans. The dwarves do eat, of course, but this feudalism is mining rather than agricultural, and perhaps that is what makes it more akin to a communal structureno doubt, spatially, it is much harder to establish hierarchies between dwarves within a mine [than ranks between humans on the agricultural land].

BingMag.com An economic analysis of Dwarf Fortress; The most complicated game in the world

Capitalism does not come smoothly through urban commerce. Because food production and agriculture are simply only one part of the division of labor, and its surplus is collectively shared among all, like other products of the fortress. Therefore, the basis for the creation of a large feudal landlord class (which subsequently wants to engage with the peasants) is not formed. In this sense, as noted above, the conditions are more similar to early feudalisms in Europe or certain parts of Asian feudalism than to later, more agricultural feudalism. Therefore, in order to reach capitalism, as Marxist and competing styles of historiography refer to it, two ways have been closed. Dwarves can now be sure that a feudal society will remain in the future will remain, though more flexible and equal than the European feudalisms of men.

However, perhaps the dwarves should heed Engels's warning: "Although the chaotic battles between the feudal aristocracy ruled the Middle Ages with fury and tumult had filled up, the silent work of the exploited classes all over Western Europe was weakening the feudal system and creating conditions in which the feudal lords' position was getting narrower day by day. It is true that feudalism still asserts itself in the outskirts and suburbs, it tortures the serfs, lives off the sweat of their brows, benefits from the crops they grow, takes their wives and daughters as hostages; But these are the cities that are springing up day by day and in every corner... In all cases, they are enclosed behind protective walls and moats, with fortresses far stronger than the castles of the nobles and only great armies can take them. Behind these walls and moats, the production of medieval craftsmen, although small and dependent on guilds, began to develop; Capital accumulation began; The need for trade with other cities and with other parts of the world arose; And, gradually, with this need came the means of protecting this trade... By today's standards, all these advances in production and exchange were on a very minor scale. Production was confined to the same pattern as the guilds, and thus retained feudal characteristics; and trade remained limited... However, small and petty industries and merchants remained and had enough power to overthrow feudal society; And at least, unlike the nobles who were asleep, they were awake and on the move.**

Will this be a picture of the future of the dwarves themselves? For now, its social relations and lack of financial economy, and collectivist mining have not allowed it to reach its highest potential. Society in its developed state takes on such characteristics, but remains stuck in the boundaries of primitive feudalism in terms of its political structure. But this perspective is likely. We already have a feudal fortress of dwarves - will we get a fortress with kings and a "dwarf nation"? , unless it is stated in the text, another version is meant.

**Friedrich Engels, The Decline of Feudalism and the Rise of the Bourgeoisie (1884) https://www.marxists.org/archive /marx/works/1884/decline/index.htm

Author: Matthijs Krul

Source: McCaine

1. Of course, feudal society cannot be formulated so simply. As David Graeber writes in Debt: The First 5000 Years, the very idea that we live in a particular "community" is elusive, and the person who lives in the community or culture is probably the least aware of it, as the discoverer of water certainly is. Everyone was not a fish: "Feudalism was also a very complicated and messy business, but whenever the thinkers of medieval history want to summarize it, all its positions and orders are reduced to a simple formula. They reduce, in which each position pays its share: some prayed [clergy], some fought [knights] and some worked [peasants]. Even hierarchies represented it in a form of reciprocity, despite the fact that this formula had nothing to do with the objective relationship between peasants, knights, and feudal peasants. Anthropologists are well acquainted with this phenomenon: only those who never have the opportunity to think about the whole society or culture in which they live, they probably never knew that they were living in what some consider a "society", a "culture" in particular. Is; Such people are naturally not good candidates to explain their society or culture to us. They will simply say, "We are just serving our mothers who raised us like this and paying the debt." If you wanted to tell the feudal [lords and peasants] what kind of society they are in and, for example, you said in a diagram that clan A marries a woman from clan B, and B marries his wife to clan C, and they return to A, they would probably be confused. . Such formulations have nothing to do with what people actually did."

Yuval Noah Harari also states this in Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, how those who know the most about a period - those who live in it - actually know the least about what's going on. According to the example he gives, for today's people, becoming Christians in Rome seems a natural and normal process, but for the Roman citizen at that time, such a thing seemed completely unlikely. and there are 1, so Dwarf Fortress cannot be an accurate description of a feudal structure in this sense, because generally a mechanism that gives a random output every time it is input is considered a bad mechanism and design (although when creating a new map, the player's input is a random result ((m)

2. In Dwarf Fortress, the economy is only considered in the game when Have progressed until a duke, baron or count enters the fortress.

3. The meaning of being commodity-oriented is that the dwarves of the society received not money but the same goods they made in exchange for the work they did, and in modern society, regardless of whether the ownership of the means of production is communal or private, due to the loss of "agreement on "Coincidence of Wants" is not possible. What the author expresses in Dorf Fortress, despite his Marxist view, is also said by Seifuddin Amos, who is a supporter of the Austrian school (despite the fact that the former believes that the amount of labor spent determines the value of goods, while the latter considers the value of goods subjective Knows): The easiest way to exchange value is to exchange goods with other goods. But direct exchange is only suitable in small communities where limited goods and services are produced. In a hypothetical economy consisting of a few people isolated from the world, there is no special specialization and trade, so people can participate in the production of the most basic means of survival and directly exchange it with each other. But as the market gets bigger and more opportunities for specialization and exchange become available, the problem of "needs agreement" becomes more complicated: what you want to get is produced by someone who doesn't need what you're trying to sell. In Dwarf Fortress, perhaps the exchange of goods for goods was the answer until the dwarves had a small population, but the more the player's territory expanded and the number of dwarves increased, the more he was forced to replace money with goods.

This problem has three dimensions. ; First, lack of agreement on scale: what you want may not be of equal value to what you have available now, and breaking it down into smaller units may not be practical. Imagine trying to sell shoes in exchange for buying a house you can't divide the house into smaller parts and sell the same amount of shoes, nor does the homeowner want to buy shoes the size of the whole house. Second, the lack of agreement on time frames: what you want to sell may be perishable, but what you receive is more durable, so it is not possible to collect enough perishable goods for more durable goods in any time frame. For example, you cannot collect apples to buy a car because they will spoil during collection. And the car is more durable than the apple, making the value unequal between the two. Third, no agreement on location: You may want to sell a house here to buy a house somewhere else, but (most) houses are not transferable. (M)

BingMag.com An economic analysis of Dwarf Fortress; The most complicated game in the world

4. By the beginning of the 17th century, absolute monarchy was triumphantly established throughout Europe. But a king (or, in the case of the Italian city-states, a ruler or mayor with more limited power) could not rule alone. He had to rule through a bureaucratic hierarchy. And so absolute rule was established by an alliance between the king, his nobles (who were often feudal or post-feudal landowners) and other rich merchants and traders. "Mercantilism" is the name given by historians of the late 19th century to the economic-political system of absolute government that existed from the 16th to the 18th centuries. (Eli Heckscher), a system in which the government is the most beneficial and especially can limit imports or subsidize exports (Adam Smith). Or an incomplete set of economic theories that includes protectionism and can only extract raw silver and gold. Indeed, mercantilism was all of these; A "comprehensive system of state-building, state privileges, and generally what might be called 'state-monopoly capitalism.'"

As the economic aspect of absolutist government, mercantilism in state-building, big government, huge royal spending, high taxes , (and especially after the end of the 17th century) inflation and eliminating budget deficits, war, imperialism, and finally in nation building was a necessary process. In short, an economic-political system that is very similar to today's system, except that now large-scale industries have become the main channel of the economy, and not merchants (a difference that is not important, of course). But the absolutist state means that the state must form alliances between powerful economic groups, and this means providing a lively place for these groups to lobby for the use of government benefits and benefit from its rents.

Jacob Viner puts it well: "Today's lovers of mercantilism want to present its 'virtues' to us otherwise, but the fact is that its laws and proclamations are the result of an honorable zeal for It was not about building a powerful and glorious nation, nor about destroying the selfishness of the profiteering merchant. Mercantilism was the result of conflicting interests of groups (some more respectable and some less so). The financial needs of the royal crown were always one of the most important and determining factors that determined the rules regarding trade. Diplomatic considerations also played a role in influencing these laws. And of course, the king's request to give them special privileges and 'on love' (con amore) to them They offered him the highest price, or bribed him."

Giving "special privileges" means giving or selling high-selling "monopolies" such as the exclusive right to produce or sell a certain product or trade in a certain environment. These "monopoly privileges" were either sold or donated to the king's allies, or to groups of merchants who helped the king collect taxes. These privileges were either for trade in a specific foreign environment such as the East India Company (these exclusive privileges were needed for trade in the Far East) or for trade in a domestic environment such as granting a person the exclusive right to make playing cards in England. The result was that a businessman made a profit, but at the expense of his potential competitors and all British consumers. Or the government could completely dissolve all these professions in its cartel, in such a way that it would unite with all the producers and encourage them to join it and follow the orders of these urban rent-seeking guilds.

It should be noted. that the most basic aspects of mercantilist policytaxation or import bans or export subsidieswere part of a whole, namely, rentierism with state monopoly. Imports were either banned or subsidized tariffs were imposed to favor local artisans or merchants. Exports were also subsidized for similar reasons.

(The above text was a translation from the book "An Austrian Perspective on the History of Economic Ideas, Volume I, Economic Ideas Before Adam Smith", most of which are available on the Von Institute website. Mises and the article "Mercantilism as an economic aspect of absolute monarchy" can be read.) (M)

5. It is a Marxist term and refers to a situation where the work that was previously done by peasants, artisans, etc. is now under the supervision of a capitalist who has taken control of their means of production. So, although that craftsman still uses his old tools and machines, it is the capitalist who directs this process and the work of that craftsman becomes a paid work. (M)

BingMag.com An economic analysis of Dwarf Fortress; The most complicated game in the world

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