Dwarf Fortress: laboratory and homestead

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4 Citations (Scopus)


The “fortress simulator” game Dwarf Fortress (Bay 12 Games, 2006-present) allows players the space to conduct experiments in economics. The player is not granted an avatar in the world, but this does not mean the player is granted the role of a transcendent deity either. Instead, the player operates on the relational level—completely managing all economic interactions and assigning social codes to different spaces. Lacking a “win” condition, players are free to engage with the game however they wish, including allowing for the immediate and unsympathetic demise of the community. As play continues, Dwarf Fortress ceases to be a fortress and becomes what the autonomists describe as a “laboratory.” The social relations of the fortress are upturned and become the site for experiments in production. The fortress too becomes the site for thought experiments on alternative economies, containing not one but many social laboratories.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-19
Number of pages17
JournalGames and Culture: a journal of interactive media
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2018


  • Aristotle
  • autonomist Marxism
  • Dwarf Fortress
  • economic laboratory
  • experimental economies
  • homestead games
  • open games
  • postMarxism
  • strategy games
  • video game economies

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