Prison Architect riot
Light-based media

​What to do with Prison Architect, a video game about building prisons?

Paolo Pedercini has written a thoughtful piece for Kotaku, about Prison Architect that questions some of messages arising from the game’s mechanics:

“Is it possible to create a prison management game without trivializing or misrepresenting the issue of mass incarceration? As video games mature and tackle more serious topics, players and developers should be aware of the values embedded in their systems.

“In Prison Architect brawls and riots happen all the time, sometimes as soon as the inmates enter the building. Brawls often end up with inmates laying unconscious in pools of blood, injured guards, and damaged facilities.

“Simulations need to exaggerate feedback to prompt adjustments, and I certainly don’t expect my inmates to enjoy their residency. But the continuous, frustrating, over-the-top violence suggests that we are dealing with an irrational, murderous, and suicidal horde that deserves no sympathy.”
Paolo Pedercini

Prison Architect’s producer Mark morris and designer Chris Delay responded to the article in this video.

Chris explains that the game is currently unbalanced in many ways and that rehabilitation was always intended to be a part of the ‘end game’:

“It’s probably the hardest part of the whole game design I think, and it’s certainly the part we’ve left to last to do, because you can’t do an end game until you’ve got some sort of meaningful simulation of your prisoners in jail.”

Stay tuned to the very end of the video for a little fun with one of Pedercini’s own games!


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