What are the philosophical premises that we, in Totem, hold about social reality, and how do these assumptions reflect on our design of the Totem DAO?

What are our values for this organization? What culture do we want to establish? How do we hope people will relate to each other in Totem? And what are the things we want to agree to be important in our community and our lives?

Our ethics are an important response to the challenges we face in creating DAOs.

Philosophical Inspiration

We believe that social reality is a narrative, a story, a myth. Noh Harari explains it very well.  To be a member of society means to accept the story we live in and take part as characters in this story. This happens naturally and unconsciously when we are born into familial and cultural stories. This is done purposefully by writers and game creators. They pull the players into the world they build and make them identify with its characters. We follow in the footsteps of structural anthropologists like Claude Levi-Strauss who demonstrated how culture is built on myths, post-modern philosophers like Jean-François Lyotard who realized there is no other social reality but the one we make up, and psychoanalysts like Jacques Lacan who said that passion is the aim of life and is obtained only by living out our character in the narrative we were born into and take part in.

With these premises, we take responsibility to design the social reality of Totem DAO. We set the rules and norms, the symbolic and ritualistic components, to maximize the support that all of us can give to each other's personal passions.

PALIMPSEST - a tool for interaction of passion

At Totem we believe that the role of the organization is to ignite and sustain the passion of its members and to be ignited by the personal passions members bring in. Palimpsest is an erasable writing board, usually made of wood. In some parts of Africa, it is used by school children as a notebook. They use ash mixed with water as ink and erase it with a wet piece of cloth to write over it again and again. The previous writing is not completely erased so you can see some faded previous writing through current ones.

We use this name because this is the nature of passion. It changes with time but old passions always leave their trace. Palimpsest is the name of the process we use to explore and communicate passions. In the first phase team members answer questions about the passion that brought them to this organization, to begin with. What was your childhood superpower fantasy? Who was your idol? What was the need that you were born to solve? In the second phase, we translate this desire into a specific mission that the member wants to achieve through Totem. In the third phase, members read each other’s palimpsests and answer two questions: How do you intend to take a supporting role in each other’s passion, and what requests are you communicating to others for support in your passion? The summary of this interaction is the list of the core values of Totem. This is a dynamic process. The core values of Totem are continuously updated. Each new member contributes his or her passion and values and influences others. Three times a year members update their palimpsest and their offers and requests with each other.


Totem is a collective, or a tribe, by and for game developers. It is a collective both in the creative and the political sense: 1. We have the blockchain technology for developers to cooperate with each other by participating as creators in each other’s games 2. And politically, members of the collective make decisions about the function of the collective for the benefit of the members.

Passion Network Effect

One of the most important variables for the successful growth of Totem is the Passion Network Effect (PNE). We are part of the NFX guild that supports its founders by capitalizing on 16 network effects for hyperbolic growth [link to 16 network effects]

From organizational backbone to smart contracts

The first phase is to generate PNE between the members of the organizational backbone. This includes members of the council, ambassadors and … [who else? link]. The product of this process will be the second phase, a formulated system for creating PNE among game developers. Members of the Totem tribe who have voting rights by virtue of owning Totem DAO tokens, will eventually pass top the third stage and formulate smart contracts on the blockchain platform to reward and strengthen any expression of contagious passion.

Value and passion

Passion and values go together. What we are passionate about is what’s important for us; what we value. Passion is not something to decide about, so as much as we believe in certain ideals, they have to be real passions in order to hold. As humans, we live as characters in the stories we were born into. Passion is what drives the quest of the character in the story. To get in touch with our passion we need to decipher and extract it from our life story, and to influence others and make our passion contagious we need to communicate it and take part in each others’ passion. This is achieved through the palimpsest ritual:

Totem core values and mission statement

The product of the expression of personal passions and the influences between members is the following:

  • To bring our passion to work for us and for the organization.
  • To create and maintain a high-quality, robust, intricate, and ethical alternative to mainstream game development.
  • To cater to the needs of indie game developers and empower them to create and make a living.
  • We want to capitalize on the value of group-think by sharing ideas and meeting the social needs of tribe members and yet uphold the value of independence not only for our clients but in the way we operate in the organization.
  • We wish to be leaders in the field and create a self-perpetuating organization

indie game dev principles

We design Totem DAO to enable game developers to maximize their creativity, productivity, freedom, collaboration, and to be compensated in a fair and transparent way for every contribution they make to Totem ecosystem. Knowing These are the issues we addressthe airly and What is the best way to be with people we work with? to keep our individuality and yet be a part of something bigger? What is the best way to create things together? How can Totem be the best organization it can be for these purposes? The answer to these questions is in the domain of ethics. Principles that direct ethics are values. What is the best value system that we can design into the way Totem functions?

Decentralization of Power

Throughout the past few hundreds of years, progress meant power moving from few to many.

The power which was once held by the hand of individuals, like emperors and kings, shifted to ruling classes until it reached today's democracy. While power is still held by individuals, we enjoy more personal freedoms and agency today than ever before.

Decentralization means taking the power from centralistic entities and moving the agency to the community. We believe that the more power is held by the community, the better its chance to survive and prosper. As less power is held by central authorities, their burden on society as a whole reduces as well.


We are an open community running an open platform. Anyone is welcome to join. We trust that passion is about impact, and we see it in the interest game creators find in our ability to save their Legacy Events. With people who are not open and passionate about collaboration, we have no common interest. 


Totem is a community of creators and as such, one of the most important values we want to abide by is the uniqueness of each creator. For this purpose we give our creators access to the best available tools, to turn their visions into sound and graphics, and to enable the stories that spring from their minds to turn into original adventures for players. NFT technology enables each creator to make of the player asset what they like, in a way that fits the myth and graphic language of their particular creation. To begin with, Totem is intended for game creators who cherish their individuality. We only follow.


Since we cannot exist as passionate beings without a narrative, we must not ignore the narratives members of Totem bring with them. We don't want anyone to sever their cultural roots when entering Totem, and we also don't want to miss anything of value from other cultures. We learn from the Africans the Ubuntu spirit of open-source sharing, and from the Inuits the unity between home and work life. We appreciate the value protestants give to hard work and share the importance Islam gives to hospitality and welcoming the stranger. From the Evenki of Siberia we adopt the idea of Shamanism - tapping the healing powers of storytelling, and from the Americans of the Great Lakes we borrowed the idea of Totem - a symbol of unity for ourselves as a tribe.


We don't want to ignore or isolate ourselves from the political and economic global context we operate in. That's why we design Totem as a DAO - Decentralized Autonomous Organization. Its a reaction to authoritarian controlling organizations. We believe that most people that currently inhabit earth would agree that totalitarian systems are not conducive to an individual's material and mental wellness. Totalitarianism exists in democracies through economic and cultural ruling classes, in capitalism through corporate cultures, and indie game developers know this more than many other groups where the gaming industry is controlled by a few large publishing houses. 

Totem belongs to the people who provide services to each other in this ecosystem. They hold tokens that have the power to participate in decision-making, so tribe members take ownership of their destiny.

Ownership is respected in the way game creators continue to harvest value from game components, and assets, that are used in their game and in other games as well. Players' ownership is secured through NFT technology, so that assets they acquired through skill or investment will belong to them, with the possibility to grow their value and exchange it with other players.

The DAO belongs to its members and the assets to the creators and players. Even the social culture designed here by the council will develop by members once they contribute their philosophy, mythology, and values.


We are a networked tribe, as defined by James Currier, a general partner in NFX . NFX, who are among Totem's contributors, uses this social structure to maximize the success of the founders they support through the founders' guild they are building, which we are now a part of.

Members who belong to the Totem tribe, no matter which clan they are part of, have Totem as a source of identity. They add value to other members as well as receive value from others. They contribute to the reputation of the DAO and enjoy the reputation that others enhance. The more the tribe grows the more links they can rely on for their needs and desires. Members help each other in times of hardships, which strengthens tribe ties exponentially.

The cohesion of the tribe serves against the external competition, mainly non-indie studios. Totem provides the tools to translate the tribe members' effort and creativity into highly competitive games in the market that was traditionally dominated by large studios and corporations.

We care about your desires. In fact, it's a requirement to join our tribe. Palimpsest is a ritual that we do with newcomers as well as among all members periodically. The essence of this ritual is to take a stand and declare your desire, as a way of committing yourself to your passion and to passion as a value in Totem. 


Game creators probably know this more than most people, because their art and craft are to invent worlds in which players become passionate. The skill to arouse desire is storytelling, so our task is to make Totem an engaging story where tribe members would want to belong. Passion needs to be cultivated. It's not a basic need we cannot do without. Unfortunately, there are many people who feel the opposite: meaninglessness and depression. What can support passion is demand. That's how traditional hierarchical corporations operate. By demanding production from workers they can ignite their desire but also stifle it when other values like ownership, singularity, solidarity, and multi-culturalism are missing.

We must support each other's passion. It cannot exist outside of a story and no one can be alone in a story. Passion is about believing in the meaningfulness of a goal and perceiving ourselves as meaningful to that goal. Just like a word gets its meaning from the context of other words in a sentence, so are humans. We get our meaning from others when we are meaningful to them. The share that game creators get from the use of their assets in other games, both creators are meaningful to each other and the player. We rely on all members to sustain the conditions for passion in our DAO. It's up to all of us to tell mesmerizing stories, in sound and graphics, in narrative and in code.


We have blockchain technology to keep everyone in fair play. We respect creative rights and protect them with NFT technology. We uphold among the counsel and throughout tribal clans the value of transparency. We share the reasons for the motivations that propel us and are eager to listen to others express theirs. Through a constitution, a recent form of totemism, we will keep a healthy balance between leadership that governs and pulls members toward grandiose goals, and the wisdom of the crowd who owns Totem. We will maintain our organizational health by upholding the values of clarity, empowering feedback, and honest criticism.

Totem Game Development Network 2022