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    KingBadfish's Prison Architect (PC)

    [August 30, 2017 06:43:24 PM]
    I played another 2 hours of Prison Architect today. I realized after my last 2 attempts in the sort of sandbox mode that I had a ton of the campaign that I still needed to finish. The campaign is more of a drawn-out tutorial, but it forces you to make some decisions and witness some pretty brutal stuff. At first, I thought that it was kind of nice playing at a slower pace after my last couple of failed attempts in the sandbox mode. It was at least slower at first.

    Immediately after the first part of the campaign, where I had to execute the prisoner convicted of a double murder, the game threw me into a scenario where I had to put out a fire in the canteen/kitchen and then rebuild again before meal time. I find out before too long that the fire was set in an attempt to kill the son of a mob boss. The Palermo crime family controls the drug trade within my prison, and to help stem the drug problem, I do a shakedown of the entire prison. I find a ton of contraband in the process of searching the prisoners. From a morale perspective, the prisoners for the most part werenít very happy with me during and immediately after the shakedown.

    Interestingly enough, just like in sandbox mode, I have to keep the prisoners needs in check while managing the ever-growing prison population. Things can get out of control so quickly. As part of the story, the prisoners riot and several staff members, including the warden are taken hostage. The sheer size of my prison population doesnít help the situation at all. Luckily from my failed game in my last playthrough, I learned what to do in the case of the riot (the game gave me instruction as well). I have to deploy riot police quickly enough while dealing with the hostage crisis at the same time. The hostage crisis sort of plays itself out as interludes during the riot.

    One thing Iíve learned more than anything in this game, and something that seems to be an ongoing theme from an ethics perspective is that even though I am in charge of a for-profit prison, treating my prisoners right is paramount to my success. The cost gets pretty high when riots occur. Prisoners and staff members are killed, walls are knocked down, I deploy riot police. Itís just better in the long run, if I want my game to last for any length of time, to treat the prisoners with dignity and give them creature comforts. Basically, a little humanity goes a long way.

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    [August 29, 2017 11:54:53 AM]
    Yesterday I played another 3 hours of Prison Architect. At this point I had finally made it through the initial tutorial which gave me the basic framework of the game. As you start the actual game, they basically give you a huge open field and tell you to build a prison. This seemed like a daunting task at first but you are given a finite sum of money to start with and some pretty basic tasks. I began to build.

    Everything seemed to be going well at first, I built a canteen (cafeteria) and a kitchen, and built a basic holding cell to hold my prisoners, one that didnít cost too much money. I was ready for my first prisoner intake, or at least I thought I was. It wasnít long before things started to spiral out of control. The in-game days go by rather quickly, and with each passing day comes more prisoners. Some prisoners are paroled, so there is a bit of ebb and flow, but there are quite few more prisoners coming in than there are prisoners going out. The holding cell I built was becoming overcrowded and in my haste to build it I had included a fundamental flaw, a door to the outside. It wasnít very long before the prisoners found a way to exploit it and make a break for freedom. In the ensuing minutes, I lost about 80% of my prisoner population, either to death or to escape. The CEO of the prison system called not long after, my contract was revoked. Game failed. Restart.

    To my disappointment, I was forced to start everything over. I got past my initial frustration and decided that this time I would do things right, and I would do it as fast as I possibly could to keep up with the population of the prison. I was wrong, again. While I could build the holding cell larger, and even had the funds to build a cell block, I forgot one critical thing. Food. I started with plenty of food, but just as in my previous playthrough, I didnít consider a quickly growing prisoner population. Before long, my prisoner population was large, as was their demand for food. My supply of food, along with my short-staffed kitchen couldnít keep up with the demand. The result? Extremely hangry (hungry + angry) prisoners. They rioted, killing each other and virtually my entire staff, all the way down to the janitors. I tried to deploy riot police but it went so fast, everyone was dead before they had a chance to make a difference. Again, game failed. Another restart.

    In my time playing today, I had to restart the game twice. While this was incredibly frustrating, it also taught me a pretty good lesson in ethics. Even though it might be my job in this game to create a prison that makes money, I also learned that I must find a balance. Iíd imagine itís the same in the real world of for-profit prisons. If you decide to cram prisoners into tight spaces, or if you donít provide enough food, the prisoners riot or find a way to escape. Basically, treat people with respect and dignity and there is a significantly higher chance that youíll get treated in kind. I will see if I canít do that in my next attempt at building this prison.

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    [August 23, 2017 11:30:20 PM]
    I started playing Prison Architect today. I've seen this game pass through Steam sales but never picked it up until now. I thought that from an ethics perspective this would be a cool choice. I was able to confirm that in the first ten minutes of playing the game.
    My first task in the game was to build an execution chamber for a man named Edward Romsey, who is on Death Row for committing a double murder. The game immediately goes into the process of telling the story of his crime, catching his wife in bed with another man and murdering them both in cold blood. Pretty dark start, I thought. It's at this point the game gives you your first ethical decision. Provide Romsey with creature comforts such as a window and a bookshelf, or keep him in a dark barren cell until the time of his execution. I thought, the guys going to pay for his crimes with his life, the least I can do is show a modicum of humanity until then. I provided him with the window and bookshelf.
    After testing and making sure the electric chair was in working order, your task is to carry out Edward Romsey's execution. When the switch was flipped, an interesting thing happened. The screen faded to white rather than black and there was angelic music playing in the background, almost as if to signal the man found salvation. Sort of an interesting choice made by the developers.
    This was the end of my first 30 minutes of playing the game. My first impression of the game is that it's definitely going to involve a lot of ethical decision making on my part, which should be pretty interesting. Do I provide comforts and keep the prisoners happy, or do I turn the prison into a gulag with constant lockdowns and regular shakedowns of cells? One interesting point is that the ficitional prison system in the game is a for-profit prison system. Every decision I make impacts the bottom line. Do I save a few bucks at the risk of making the lives of these prisoners miserable? Will that cost me more in the long run with riots and escapes? Time will tell I guess.
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    KingBadfish's Prison Architect (PC)

    Current Status: Playing

    GameLog started on: Tuesday 22 August, 2017

    KingBadfish's opinion and rating for this game

    Pretty good game. Major lessons learned about treating people, even prisoners, with dignity and respect.

    Rating (out of 5):starstarstarstarstar

    Related Links

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    See info on Prison Architect

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