Adventure Communist is a simple game. But it illustrates how a communist economy would work, because it eliminates the value form, and focuses on use-value.
Christian Patterson (@christianizcool)
If you’re unfamiliar with idle clicker games, they’re games where the only, or at least primary game mechanics is clicking, and waiting.
There are numbers that grow exponentially, and your objective is to make the numbers go up. The game also continues playing while you are away (hence, the idle element).
So the basic gameplay loop is click on stuff to make more things that generate higher numbers, then let the game set. Come back later, and spend the resources you generate to then generate more.
They’re very simple games, but people are able to do some pretty creative stuff with them.
As for AdVenture Communist, I’ll just put this out there: the makers of the game aren’t communist. The game doesn’t seem particularly sympathetic to communism. At the same time, it’s devoid of almost all typical smears and disingenuous presentation that one normally gets when the western world presents communism, especially since the game has a Soviet Union aesthetic.
But what the game really gets right is it presents a communist economy effectively. By that I mean, the game has no money-form. Commodities aren’t reduced to exchange value.
To explain, the same developers have another, more simple game called AdVenture Capitalist. In that game, you own different industries, and they produce money. So, for example, newspaper delivery, car wash etc. In all of those cases, your clicks don’t generate lemonade, newspaper trucks, car washes etc. Those things have use value. They’re the things that labor generates, and can actually be used or consumed. Instead, your clicks generate exchange value, ie money.
Marx writes about this form of exchange in Capital (Vol. 1, Chap. 3, Sec. 3, Sub-Sec. B):
“The seller turned his commodity into money, in order thereby to satisfy some want, the hoarder did the same in order to keep his commodity in its money-shape, and the debtor in order to be able to pay; if he do not pay, his goods will be sold by the sheriff. The value-form of commodities, money, is therefore now the end and aim of a sale, and that owing to a social necessity springing out of the process of circulation itself.”
In AdVenture Communist, the objects at play are the objects with use value. Your first industry is food, then land, then ore, then military, then medical. You never actually convert any of these things into an exchange value.
This helps illustrate how a communist economy would work. Unlike Marx’s portrayal of capitalism, where the value-form is more valuable than the commodity itself, communism doesn’t reduce objects with use value to an exchange value.
To wrap up, I want to include a passage from The Revolution Betrayed by Trotsky. I’m by no means a Trotskyist, and, most of this book isn’t very good. However the first chapter is a thorough, interesting description of the Soviet economy.
When I first read this book as a young communist, I was struck by the word choice and framing he used to describe the economy. He starts with:
“If in view of the instability of the ruble as a unit of measurement, we lay aside money estimates, we arrive at another unit which is absolutely unquestionable.”
Here, this is Trotsky being dismissive of the value-form, something you could never fathom in capitalist discourse. He continues:
“In December 1913, the Don basin produced 2,275,000 tons of coal; in December 1935, 7,125,000 tons. During the last three years the production of iron has doubled. The production of steel and of the rolling mills has increased almost 2½ times. The output of oil, coal and iron has increased from 3 to 3½ times the pre-war figure. In 1920, when the first plan of electrification was drawn up, there were 10 district power stations in the country with a total power production of 253,000 kilowatts. In 1935, there were already 95 of these stations with a total power of 4,345,000 kilowatts. In 1925, the Soviet Union stood 11th in the production of electro-energy; in 1935, it was second only to Germany and the United States. In the production of coal, the Soviet Union has moved forward from 10th to 4th place. In steel, from 6th to 3rd place. In the production of tractors, to the 1st place in the world. This also is true of the production of sugar.”
Although very dry, this changed the way I conceptualize an economy. The fact that our economy isn’t measured in these terms makes no sense. However, we think in capitalist terms so much, that we can’t even imagine an economy not fueled by the value-form.