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    Mar 30th, 2018 at 02:39:09     -    Prison Architect (XBONE)

    Prison Architect: Session #3, 29 March 2018
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    City building and other unit management games like this one reveal the horrible potentialities of perceiving other human beings from a totally detached, mechanical vantage point. As both text on a paper and cartoon representations on the screen, quantifying other agents in this way allows one to systematically do unto others as they would not directly, in the flesh. Both parties lose humanity, and I really dislike being placed in this role in this game.

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    Mar 28th, 2018 at 12:51:11     -    Prison Architect (XBONE)

    Prison Architect Entry #2, 28 March 2018
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    When playing the game correctly (i.e., with finite operating funds and random, unexpected happenings), it becomes apparent that one must constantly deliberate between the health and happiness of those incarcerated and the maintenance and functionality of the prison as a 24/7 penal institution. It is always unsettling when I find myself rationalizing the mistreatment of the prisoners in the interest of my bottom line and ability to expand infrastructure. As the player becomes more proficient and effective at operating and expanding the prison as a whole, the incarcerated become progressively more monetized when managing them feels commonplace. Whether the player is conscious of it or not, the material valuation of these prisoners sets the precedent for their dehumanization. I found myself almost thinking of these prisoners as cattle as I directed them about the facilities and experimented on different approaches without their wellbeing in mind. I sense the same dynamic emerges in American prisons, our long-term incarceration institutions that function far more like industrial facilities than places for social reform and rehabilitation. Are we to blame capitalism or the human capacity for objectification? Both?

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    Mar 28th, 2018 at 00:26:29     -    Prison Architect (XBONE)

    Prison Architect Entry #1, 27 March 2018
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    I've begun my plunge into this novelty prison administration simulator by way of the story mode. Although there is clearly narrative content, it feels fairly superficial; I sense that the polaroid story panes act only as an aesthetic layer over this mode's primary purpose: instructing the player on the game's core mechanics and how to respond to the various disasters that are bound to occur. I ultimately abandoned this mode after a couple of levels for the main sandbox mode, though the pedagogy was much appreciated. Prison Architect's greatest teacher, however, is the cataclysmic fail-states that follow inevitable slips of player error. The moral dimensions of this game are apparent through each moment of gameplay. I plan to discuss this more extensively in the coming entries, though I've noticed at this point that once one is able to see past the cartoony presentation and perceive the tiny prisoners as human beings, a sinister element emerges in the player's role as overseer, and the mechanical brutality of invisible bureaucracy is revealed.....

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    Feb 16th, 2018 at 00:31:56     -    Firewatch (XBONE)

    Firewatch #3, 15 February 2018 approximately 11:32 pm, NOT any inaccurate timezone report Gamelog may have produced. Please do not mark me down for lateness.
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    Through my last binge session of Firewatch, I had the opportunity to see the game to its conclusion and take a moment to reflect on my experience. I've previously heard folks complain about the ending, decrying it to be anticlimactic and inadequate ultimately failing to wrap-up the story that was otherwise so compelling. I figure that they simply have short attention spans and bloodlust at cause of their longtime dulling from Call-of-Duty-esque narratives and expectations. Firewatch is a game situated in idle pleasures and the joy in slow composure and subtle unfolding. While the narrative has a central conflict, twists, turns, surprises, and palpable mystery, it all progresses at the leasury pace of the rest of the game. Firewatch is sentimental, nuanced, and emotionally compelling, and doesn't need to rely upon high drama and the usual tropes we've come to expect admittedly, their is a death, but it isn't what makes the story evocative and tragic. The moral dynamics of the game lie not in massive, binary decisions, but rather in human relationships, and questions on what obligations we truly have to others this is likely what I will be writing about for the coming paper. We find in Firewatch the moral dimensions of human relationships, conversational speech, and the small-scale decisions of small-scale individuals. There is nothing grandiose in the actions of this game, nothing of massive weight and influence for anyone else but the few individuals involved; Firewatch is a game about, well, people that sit in towers and watch for fires in desolate forest nothing more, nothing less. Moral struggles emerge in the lives of individuals.

    This entry has been edited 1 time. It was last edited on Feb 16th, 2018 at 00:33:20.

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