Die2Nite is a computer game about zombies. But it is also, according to one review, an interactive piece of social commentary, in which you join 39 other players in a town repeatedly beset upon by the living dead. Its your choice whether or not to help the community or live (and die) alone. With its emphasis on community, its not surprising to learn that Die2Nite is one of the flagship games of Motion Twin, a French computer game studio which is run as a Scop (société cooperative et participative), a cooperative enterprise managed by its employees.
Alexander Dodds, the international development manager for Motion Twin, explains that it was founded in 2001, when a few friends with a passion and talent for game development got together and decided to try to pursue their dream: Making a living making games, not for big corporations, but under their own steam and by their own rules.
Motion Twin believes in making games for everyone. The cooperative creates everything for its mostly browser-based games in-house, from concept to launch via development, localisation and marketing. All our games are free to play, says Dodds. If players wish to take more turns or get more items than the ones we give them for free every day, they have the option to pay for more.
Motion Twin is currently run by 11 member-partners, who are also the employees. Our particular organisational structure is completely flat, with no hierarchy, no boss, and no limits, says Dodds. We are all free to propose new projects, concepts and changes to the organisation itself. Everything is voted on democratically, with one vote per partner.
When new workers join Motion Twin, they have a fixed-term trial of one year, after which the partners vote on their acceptance into the company. If you’ve impressed sufficiently, you’re in with the same rights, salary and benefits as the partners who have been here for 10-plus years, says Dodds.
About the lack of hierarchy, he says: Personally I feel that this allows us to really feel valued and involved in the group, and lets us make rapid changes at any level which would be simply impossible for traditional companies.
With a revenue last year of 3.67 million euros, clearly this structure is working for Motion Twin. What are the plans for the future for this small but influential worker-run cooperative? World domination, says Dodds. Oh, and to focus on developing great games which we have as much fun developing as our players have playing. Over and above this, we want to demonstrate the values we hold dear at Motion Twin to our communities.