many in-game systems are adversarial, but "losing is fun!" you can deconstruct these systems & the artifacts and events they produce in context of the game's own historical simulation, but the constantly-mutating ontology that remains absurdly detailed in some areas and pragmatically general in others produces events that are both generic (another fortress lost to flooding...) and specific & personal (my dwarf blorbo has trauuma).
if you factor in the bay12 forums, wiki, etc. then dwarf fortress becomes a game about struggling against adversarial systems by compiling collective knowledge about their inner workings and developing strategies to hack them, building towards solutions that will always be partial and incomplete as long as the developers keep expanding the game and modifying systems in response.
it's a game about individuals encountering insurmountable conditions, coming together to advance a collective struggle, and learning from each other's failures through indirect encounter with the other's experiences and legacy. what if we had that except instead of generating fantasy paperback worlds it simulated the history of class struggle and instead of two brothers it was run by a communist party??
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finally, the record of each player's journey -- the familiar beats that structure the rise and fall of a generic Dwarf Fortress plus the singularity born of their personal struggles and unique encounters -- produces it's own little walking simulator to experience in adventure mode. from every Boatmurdered let a thousand Gone Homes bloom. dorf fort was the first strand-type game :]