A Game About Making A Socialist Society

A Game About Making A Socialist Society

Post Capitalism by Colestia is a short city-building and puzzle game about finding the weak links in capitalism and replacing them with alternatives in order to create a functional socialist society. It’s this week’s Indie Pick.

Games like Sim City allow players to build block upon block of city streets and utilities to form a functional and well-regulated capitalist society. Their game systems are built on the assumption that capitalism is an ideal form of societal organisation and fail to offer alternatives. Post Capitalism takes the underlying ideas of a city builder — to form a more functional society — but changes that assumption. Players are given a pre-assembled block of factories, stores, roads, and apartments that they must shuffle and reorganise into a socialist society.

Post Capitalism asks that players to be mindful of the connections between everything in the city. Changing the highway to a public transit system might undo your decision to implement cleaner energy, removing a field of solar panels. Placing a limit on work hours might leave some citizens feeling unfulfilled. By highlighting two objects in Post Capitalism players can see how they are related. For instance, an apartment building run by a landlord contrasts with a public park; in one case land is commodified while it is common in the other. The game becomes a logic puzzle where experimenting with a society’s priorities helps identify the hurdles to a more equitable state.

Eugene Debs once said, “Ignorance alone stands in the way of socialist success.” While playing Post Capitalism can never compete with sitting down to read Marx, Russell or Orwell, it’s a quick and interactive way to think about different outlooks on society.

You can play Post Capitalism in your web browser of choice.


  • Does it include riots and mass starvation?
    Venezuela is the modern example of what socialism gets you.

    • Venezuela is an example of what corruption gets you. Denmark is an example of what socialism gets you.

        • Socialism describes a broad set of social and economic systems, not political ones. A lot of countries with socialist systems in place are multi-party democracies.

      • Venezuela is capitalist, and Denmark is capitalist. A socialist country would have a publicly owned, democratically planned economy. There aren’t any places like that. Venezuela and Denmark both have capitalists fighting for profits and everyone else fighting back for wages, services, rights and living standards.

        • You’re mistaken. Both Venezuela and Denmark are socialist democracies. Capitalism and socialism aren’t incompatible, and neither need to be implemented absolutely. Consider researching market socialism. There’s no requirement for central planning nor public ownership in socialist models, rather socialism is characterised democratic control over the means of production.

          Your assessment of ‘capitalists vs everyone else’ in Denmark is also off-base. The Nordic model uses powerful collective bargaining that ensure industry-wide standards, and a partnership system that brings together employers, employees (via trade unions) and the government to cooperatively establish workplace regulations directly, rather than being stipulated by law. The latter is democratic control of the means of production, it just happens a the local level rather than the state level.

    • We have a social safety net, universal healthcare, public education, publicly funded housing, and a lot of publicly owned roads and spaces for free use.

      To some extent, Australia is the result of a socialist country.

    • Venezuela is a capitalist country.

      In fact, their problems stem from the fact that Chavez held back from nationalising the economy, and left key sectors of it in the hands of the capitalists, allowing them to arrange shortages.

  • “Ignorance alone stands in the way of socialist success.”
    Probably more limited resources, but whatever. Sounds like leftist propaganda, while Sim City is hardly a commentary on capitalism outside of “it looks like Western cities and money is a thing.”

    • My choice would be “human nature”. Socialism would be perfect in a world where the people that can notice the obscenely exploitable power vacuum that it allows and how easy it is to take advantage of don’t exist, or where the rest of the people are not subconsciously happy to surrender personal liberties in exchange of the convenience of having someone telling them what to do.

      • Are you sure you’re not confusing socialism with communism? Socialism doesn’t create a power vacuum and doesn’t dictate what people do.

        • You are entirely right. I guess I just extrapolated since we haven’t seen a fully socialist government that didn’t end veering into full-fledged communism. (Which again, I think it’s what happens when you add the inevitable human nature ingredient to the best-intentioned socialist recipe.)

      • Socialism – everyone is equal.
        Communism – every one is equal but some are more equal than you.

  • That was an enjoyable and thoughtful experience.

    The juxtaposition of other city building simulators with the socialism-leaning post-capitalism of Post/Capitalism presents a stark image of their economic underpinnings. For example, the inherent capitalism of Sim City’s goals and interactions becomes apparent on reflection. It’s nice to have that presented so simply.

    The transparency of Post-Capitalism’s fully self-contained ideological system and use of an education through trial-and-error mechanism of play are fantastically cohesive. Colestia did an impressive job combining the two.

    A criticism I’d happily lob relies on you having played the game before reading:the continuation in play logic between the practical and ideological effects can be easy to miss; keep at it, however, and you’ll be rewarded.

    • In other words: “This game aligns with my political leanings therefore I think it’s awesome.”

      All I see are a bunch of socialist slogans presented from simplistic clicking mechanics in a world where socialism is flawless – a world that doesn’t reflect reality. As political commentary it’s vacuous at best and propaganda at worst.

      • At no point during your play did you think about the mechanics and functions of traditional city building simulators? That was probably my favourite part. Whether the experience was filled with socialist, anarchist, or late-stage capitalist materials and conclusions, its capacity as a reflective counterpoint to many game worlds remains the same.

        I found the mid-stage experience to be a poignant observation that whatever change we wish to effect it must be balanced; a putative utopia is still built on compromise. Obviously that point was only the result of addressing practical change and the reconciling of ideological change was still to come. How the ending may be flawed is up to each individual player – I found it too saccharine. The journey, however, holds the meat and the fun, and to miss that is to do so with purpose.

        I’m sorry to hear your disdain for socialism marred your experience. You really missed out on something a bit interesting.

  • ‘Workers left unforfilled by working less hours’, actual socialism where workers own and run industries (currently we just run them) requires democracy at all levels. This requires rapidly reducing the working day. We have yet to have achieve a socialist society as it would need to occur by workers seizing the political reigns of society and then the economic reigns in an advanced capitalist economy.

    The ability to feel forfilled at work would grow as move from production for profit to production based on collectively decided needs. This game looks interesting but I wonder if it’s also models workers control of the political and productive process.

  • Came to see a bunch of the usual alt righters conflating oligarchies and kleptocracies that called themselves ‘socialist’ to score popular support with actual socialism, leaving unsurprised.

    Don’t tell me, you kids think the Nazis were ‘socialists’ ‘BECAUSE IT’S IN THEIR NAME’.

    If you’re the kind of moron who can’t see the difference between Denmark and Venezuela, you should avoid even the lightest political discussion.

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