Cult Computer Game ‘Dwarf Fortress’ to Be Offered to MoMA After Creator’s Death

Dwarf Fortress offical logo. WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Dwarf Fortress offical logo.


Writing this week at Eurogamer, Dan Pearson described the cult computer phenomenon Dwarf Fortress as “a game of almost pure administration. A game of such Byzantine complexity that, after ten years of incremental releases and updates, the number of people who really, completely understand it is negligible.” With that said, it might come as no great shock that the source code for Dwarf Fortress could find a home at the Museum of Modern Art following the death of one of the game’s creators, according to a different Eurogamer report today.

The game, developed by the brothers Tarn and Zach Adams, was part of the 2012 MoMA exhibition “Applied Design.” During that time, the museum asked the creators for the source code to be added to their collection—and the brothers say they are game. “I haven’t actually prepared the document yet,” Tarn Adams told Eurogamer. “But I’ve told the people that would be handling my computers when I die or whatever, that they can go ahead and send it to the MoMA.”

First released in 2006, Dwarf Fortress is a totally free management simulation game revolving around the construction of a dwarf domicile. It uses primitive ASCII-based computer graphics as its aesthetic grounding and absurdly complex parameters to create a singular gaming experience. “This is a game which calculates the volume of blood in every creature it generates so it knows how much alcohol it would have to consume to get drunk, an update which, remarkably, ended up covering people’s fortresses in cat vomit,” Pearson noted.

The most recent update to the game is version 0.43.05, which, according to the creators, indicates that Dwarf Fortress is only around 43 percent finished. “It’s not like we’re saying we’re 43 percent through simulating reality,” Adams told Eurogamer. “That’s ridiculous, that’s just what the fans say.”

© 2019 ARTnews Media, LLC. All Rights Reserved. ARTnews® is registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.