Tarn Adams, Zach Adams. Dwarf Fortress. 2006
Tarn Adams, Zach Adams

Dwarf Fortress

2006
Not on view
Medium
Video game software
Credit
Gift of the designers
Object number
1748.2012
Copyright
© 2015 Tarn Adams
Department
Architecture and Design

The earliest computer games were programmed using ASCII (American Standard Code for Information Interchange). The developers of Dwarf Fortress, a single-player fantasy game, purposely forwent subsequent developments in computer graphics, choosing its retro aesthetic. Rather than relying on a naturalistic three-dimensional interface, the game generates its own complex world, which the player can modify, out of classic two-dimensional tiled building blocks and text-based graphics. The goal is to build a viable dwarf settlement in a vast user-generated world of continents and seas. Every terrain has multiple levels, on the surface and below it, with more than two hundred rocks and minerals that players can mine and make tools from. In order to succeed, players must forge alliances with competing civilizations, consider how a wide range of factors (including natural resources and weather conditions) will influence their dwarf colonies, and learn to navigate an abstract world.

Gallery label from Talk to Me: Design and the Communication between People and Objects, July 24–November 7, 2011

Additional text

Many early computer games, beginning in the 1960s, were programmed using American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII). The developers of Dwarf Fortress, a single-player fantasy game launched in 2006, purposely forwent subsequent developments in computer graphics, choosing ASCII’s retro aesthetic. Rather than relying on a naturalistic three-dimensional interface, the game generates its own complex world (which the player can modify) out of classic two-dimensional tiled building blocks and text-based graphics. The goal is to build a viable dwarf settlement in a vast user-generated world of continents and seas. Every terrain has multiple levels, on the surface and below it, with more than two hundred rocks and minerals that players can mine and make tools from. In order to succeed, players must forge alliances with competing civilizations, consider how a wide range of factors (including natural resources and weather conditions) will influence their dwarf colonies, and learn to navigate an abstract world.

Gallery label from Applied Design, March 2, 2013–January 31, 2014

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Related links:
Outside North America: Scala Archives
North America: Art Resource

Image permissions

In order to effectively service requests for images, The Museum of Modern Art entrusts the licensing of images of works of art in its collections to the agencies Scala Archives and Art Resource. As MoMA’s representatives, these agencies supply high-resolution digital image files provided to them directly by the Museum's imaging studios.

All requests to reproduce works of art from MoMA's collection within North America (Canada, U.S., Mexico) should be addressed directly to Art Resource at 536 Broadway, New York, New York 10012. Telephone (212) 505-8700; fax (212) 505-2053; requests@artres.com; artres.com. Requests from all other geographical locations should be addressed directly to Scala Group S.p.A., 62, via Chiantigiana, 50012 Bagno a Ripoli/Firenze, Italy. Telephone 39 055 6233 200; fax 39 055 641124; firenze@scalarchives.com; scalarchives.com.

Requests for permission to reprint text from MoMA publications should be addressed to text_permissions@moma.org.

Related links:
Outside North America: Scala Archives
North America: Art Resource