Motion Twin The Devs Behind Dead Cells Are An Anarcho-Syndicalist Workers Cooperative

As a syndicalist myself this is extremely relevant to my interests. I very much look forward to supporting a developer like this and the game (apparently) being very good is just a bonus at this point.


Holy fuck.

I don’t have a take


fucking yes

immediate edit: okay actually I do have a take: hey maybe how amazing this game was to critics even in early early access and how it’s been able to consistently build since then… shows that democratized labour is productive as hell? Maybe crunch (and capitalism) is a pointlessly exploitative traumatizing nightmare that’s actually harmful to both people and production more often than not? I dunno just anecdotal conjecture but I feel there’s a connection here.

And I will corroborate that Dead Cells was fuckin on-point the moment it hit EA, I’ve been meaning to get back into it because I can’t imagine what they could have done with another two-odd years of healthy development.

This being a Kotaku headliner is super important too god fuck this is exciting aaa


I was going to write a longer reply, but yes, all of what you said.


That’s nice, I’m glad it’s working out. Surprised to hear them being around this long but haven’t made a single other game I’ve heard of. I assumed they were some indie-startup thing when Dead Cells showed up.


Also, heads up: don’t read the comments to the article. There was nothing offensive but I didn’t get far because of the whole lot of “how can you be real socialists if you exist in a capitalist society derp derp”.


There’s also quite a lot of people not really understanding anarcho-syndicalism (or, really syndicalism in general) - assuming that “everything is decided by committee” and so on. I guess this is what happens when people are brought up in an educational context where the “opposite” of capitalism is some kind of parody of communism…


Epistemic injustice is a real asshole to far-left ideals, as it turns out.

If I may offer some optimism, though: even if there’s initially a lot of that tired pushback, this article has still brought positive & empathetic attention to almost entirely unrepresented far-left ideas. I’ve been watching a lot of Peter Coffin lately and I don’t want to just parrot them verbatim, but attention really is currency in the marketplace of ideas we’re all forced to participate in right now.

Anarcho-syndicalism isn’t a footnote, aside or punchline of this article, either; it’s the header, it’s the body of the text, the practical/material idea that explicit “anarcho-syndical” organization works in real modern-ass life is the corroborated & non-combative thesis statement here. While the comment section is exhausting right now, and we won’t see immediately-changed minds, I think it’ll turn some heads for the better in time.

I mean, this is publicity for a term that even reactionaries rarely bring up, and it shows a long-running highly-acclaimed successful indie game being maintained under these explicit conditions while tensions around crunch culture & games industry unionization (finally) mount, not to mention a lot of long-exploited AAA labourers splintering off to form smaller/indie studios in the hopes of founding better working conditions. It won’t spark a revolution, but it’s still got a lot of power by its nature.

Anarcho-syndicalism is in a lot of people’s brains where it straight-up wasn’t before, including all the people currently espousing the same ol’ shit down in those comments. That excites me no matter how many lattes-and-iphones comments we still gotta trudge through on the reg.


I will always take every opportunity in my life to plug Ursula Le Guin books - this seems like a good time to mention The Dispossessed, easily my #1 book, which is a sci-fi novel entirely about a society of anarcho-syndicalists on the moon, and it’s dope as all hell and people should go read that book, especially if this article makes you intrigued about the subject.


Wasn’t interested in playing this gane but will totally buy a copy to support such an organization.


I am currently reading that book and it should be a crime that it took me this long to get to it.


Dead Cells is coming to the Switch, yeah?

I’d love to give these devs my support.


August 7th as far as I know.

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I would have liked to hear more about the process of the company getting smaller. I wonder how that worked in a consensus-system. Did they break off into another studio that still has ties and sometimes collaborates with Motion Twin? Or did they just get fired? Or were profits just so low that they could no longer afford to work there?


Not to hate: but isn’t this system exactly what Valve was supposed to be? Then the results were a hyper capitalist company that is so laissez-faire it won’t even curate its own store for Nazi games? (Or even make real games anymore?)

Maybe this system only works in a small scale but becomes horrible and exploitative when a company reaches a certain size?

Really happy to hear this, and to see it get visibility at a large publication, other game studios need to pay attention.
Bénard does mention running into some issues as the studio grew, but develop a solid structure and I believe you can do this for larger studios as well.
To me it’s something to aspire towards, I’m glad there’s an example of it working well for a studio.

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I’m not sure that’s completely fair given that you’ve cited one example (and one that I doubt entirely aligns with anarcho-syndicalism; I’ll leave others more informed about Valve to point out the disparities).

I’m wondering if the proper way to scale up an anarcho-syndacalist system is to keep individual studios small, but then have these studios collaborate together on larger projects (i.e. one studio handles music, the other handles gameplay, etc.). Not saying that is the only way of going about it, but maybe larger studios concentrate too much risk for them to be viable in this sort of environment?


Really something that all indies (and AAA) should get behind. I can’t tell you how many informal game dev teams online have broken apart because of resenting that the programmer got paid more than the artist, or the artist didn’t get paid unless the game got put on Steam, or the musician only got paid per song and they asked for fewer songs than promised, etc.

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I don’t know much about how Valve is run but left libertarian tendencies like syndicalism and anarcho-communism are not laissez-faire.

re: Valve, a lot of that was really weird hype back in… oh god. Back around the Orange Box, i think, actually. And honestly I don’t think there’s any water to it-- the biggest “example” I heard about Valve was “Oh, all our desks are on wheels, so if you decide you’re better for X project you just wheel over and hook up with them!” Which actually, more honestly, sounds like some of the hubbub around EA forcing everyone to switch to the Frostbite(?) engine. It’s not about making the company more even for the designers, it’s about making people more modular so you can up and move them at your will.

This is different, it seems like, and I’m thrilled to bits.

Also, if anyone was on the fence about pulling the trigger on Dead Cells, please jsut do it. Treat yourself. I am not even a Metroidvania players, but I got pulled in by the visual style, and there is something amazing about how that game feels, how impact feels, how movement feels so kinetic. I highly recommend it.