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    Mar 3rd, 2016 at 13:58:33     -    Prison Architect (PC)

    So chapter 2 began expectedly with communication from the CEO about a fire that broke out in 2 facilities of the prison. I had to contact fire fighters to put it out soon. It so happened that the facilities were the canteen and kitchen, and my 1st major assignment was to rebuild these facilities in order to maintain order in the prison. But after the fire was put out, a survivor walked out, who happened to be the mob boss in critical condition. Later at the hospital, two of his associates visit him, who he suspects to be traitors and in turn responsible for the fire.

    After rebuilding the facilities and ensuring the restoration of order in the prison, I was introduced to a drug bust within the prison and almost immediately to the death of one of the associates of the mob boss. Thankfully, it was all caught on camera and it came down to cold blooded murder and a fight between the two associates. It also attempts to tie in chapter 2 with the previous chapter.

    During one of the classes, I remember we had this discussion about misrepresentation of facts when it came to portraying realistic events in games (something to do with the Osama killing). So as a player while I’m tasked with the designing and management of prisons I was introduced to several scenarios of events that actually occur at prisons. I had access to the bios of each individual prisoner and what they were being punished for and one of the interesting aspects of the prison system that I observed was the an individual who was being punished for car-jacking had a sentence almost as long as someone who was being punished for a murder.

    In comparison to This War of mine which is also an outright simulation (with the aim of getting the player to empathize with the victims of war), the prison architect only attempts at indirectly getting the player to observe and react to events/situations in prisons while maintaining and designing it. Someone who is “only playing the game” would probably not bother with the finer details being portrayed in the game.

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    Mar 2nd, 2016 at 13:02:57     -    Prison Architect (PC)

    So the game Prison Architect begins by throwing you into this campaign mode where you are in constant communication with the CEO of the private construction company you work at. My first thought was that I would only be architecting the structures in the prison but your responsibilities also include management making the whole game experience more oriented towards simulation.

    The first task you are assigned with in Chapter 1, aptly named “Death Row”, is to architect and build a site to hold a prisoner charged with the death penalty. The site is to include a room (with some basic objects like a bed and toilet) and an execution chamber (with an electric chair). At this point the game tells you that the prisoner was in fact a teacher, and that I could optionally improve the execution site before the actual execution. Being made aware of this, I added several objects to the room which included a window, a bookshelf and lighting, so that he does not suffer during his last days. At this point you are given a brief background of the crime committed by him (something similar to Shawshank Redemption, except that he actually did murder his cheating wife). The interesting aspect though is that you are presented with contrasting commentary of opinions of the chief of police (who condemns the act and is for death penalty) and a priest (who questions the law as he believes the prisoner is being made an example of and would probably not be on death row if in another state). But sadly the sentence is carried out and the chapter ends. I thought it would have been cool if somehow I had the power to influence the outcome of the prisoner (maybe build a secret tunnel in the site :P).

    Anyways, it does raise a question, under what grounds is the death penalty a justified punishment? Is it even right for the law to decide who gets to live or die? Should they be given a second chance? Though the game does not directly try to address these questions so far, I think it puts the player in situations which could support discussions on the ethics and morals of the whole prison and justice system.

    This entry has been edited 2 times. It was last edited on Mar 2nd, 2016 at 13:06:25.

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    Jan 28th, 2016 at 14:47:23     -    This war of mine (PC)

    Having managed to survive for only 15 days on my 1st attempt I was more determined to succeed on my second attempt. This time I started off with 4 people in my shelter, 2 men and 2 women, one of whom was sick. Having learnt that food was a daily requirement, I started to plan/prioritize the items I would scavenge for during the night. During the day, I ensured I made sufficient beds and gathered all the resources available in the shelter. I also, built my metal workshop sooner and built a crowbar as it seemed like an essential commodity.

    The game does not give you time to settle down. One mistake at any stage of the game could have dire consequences on individuals and effectively on the group. Once again, I ensured I spent several nights looting the safest locations, until I had squeezed them of all the resources. Somewhere during the 4th day, I had this feeling that managing 4 people with such limited resources was becoming really hard. As a group trying to survive, should you get rid of the weakest link? This question also opened up another interesting thought. The individuals should not in any way get overly attached/ dependent on another as you may never know when something could go wrong.

    During the 8th night though, I had no choice but to steal from the supermarket in search of food, but I ran into other scavengers who were armed with guns. I ended up losing Pavle and all the resources I had managed to collect. Having lost a member, the remaining survivors were in low spirits but luckily, one of the individuals was able to bolster spirits and I had books and cigarettes to rid them of their worries soon enough.

    I installed a radio the next day, which helped me make several decisions regarding locations for scavenging. Boris was the new addition to the group on day 11 and it was funny how in my mind, I had already set him apart from the core group and was willing to risk his life for dangerous missions rather than one from the core group. Luckily though he was strong and had a large baggage space.

    All in all, I must say I'm impressed with the game. I wasn't sure what to expect at the start but once I was able to get a hang of things, I was able to find a lot of interesting features in the game, which seemed like a mix of a simulation but also with a very captivating narrative, which sets it apart from most games I've played. The game also gives importance to little details like the animation changes with the changes in the state of the characters, making the experience realistic.

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    Jan 28th, 2016 at 04:12:15     -    This war of mine (PC)

    Continuing from where I left off previously (day 3) in the survival mode of the game, I managed to survive for an additional 12 days. What went wrong? Well, my first encounter with the survival mode introduced concepts of how the individuals could get affected physically in terms of hunger, sickness or exhaustion. But what seemed to take a toll was the mental dilemma that each person was fighting against due to the circumstances/ situations they were being put in.

    Up to the first week, I believe I was able to plan and manage the resources and the state of the individuals well. It all started to go wrong when I decided to scavenge an already inhabited shelter. My skilled scavenger returned fatally wounded and without much loot. He was basically a liability as he wasn't in a position to work but at the same time needed resources in the form of food, medicine and precious time. The very next day though the game seems to throw you a replacement, in a sense a choice: do I sacrifice an individual for the sustenance of the group or do I continue to take care of him. Morally so, I decided not to let him die and tried my very best to prolong his survival. I traded out several goods in order to get medicine and also used up baggage space in order to scavenge for them. This started to take a toll on the group though. Food as a resource is hard to come by and one night during a raid, I lost all my of the food related resources. I now had 4 mouths to feed and my supply wasn't in any way meeting the demand. I had to let 2 of the 4 individuals starve and had to resort to stealing items.

    I managed to stretch another 2 days by any means, which led me to a do or die situation, as I had to make sure the next scavenge mission was successful. Up to this point I had avoided all confrontation but had to resort to murdering someone during the next night in order to continue the scavenge mission. This now started to take a psychological and mental effect on the individual. They started to move into states of sadness and depression which ultimately broke them. This brings up several points about the ethical conduct of people. In a perfect society/ world, murder is definitely unethical, but does a war or in other words what does constitute so desperate a situation which would bring a man to resort to murder? Does survival during a war fall under that category? Once you realize that morals are but human constructs in place to ensure the smooth functioning of a society, it can be far easier to accept the fact that you broke one of your ethical principles for the greater good. I would consider them to be the exceptions that the moral frameworks are made to deal with in their own way.

    I lost another two days trying to get scavenger ready for his nocturnal rounds but lost precious time during which I lost the guy who was fatally injured. I must admit though that I was a little disappointed as I had tried to keep him alive. The murders and the death of the individual now started to take a toll on the 3 remaining survivors. The individual who had joined us a few days back and who I had made the murderer abandoned the shelter one night. I was now down to two. Things only got worse, in terms of resources (food especially), the physical and mental state of the two. I did try to have them talk to each other to bolster spirits but it had a very short term effect. Within a span of three to four days I lost the remaining survivors to suicides.

    It is human instinct to want to survive and it truly is survival of the fittest.

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