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    granto's Prison Architect (PC)

    [January 18, 2018 10:45:11 PM]
    For my final gamelog of Prison Architect, I simply played through most of the third campaign mission. This mission focused on the topic of prison rioting, tasking the player with cleaning up the riot, and handling the immediate aftermath. This mission played the most on the game side of things and a little less on the story. You are tasked with rebuilding the prison after, as well as directing riot crews and paramedics through the prison to bring it back to order. This is my favorite mission thus far due to this freedom.

    From an ethical standpoint, there was not too much of a statement about rioting itself, but there was an interesting statement made about prisons in general. A hostage situation takes place, and reveals details about the prison in doing so. The original riot started due to a set of judges being caught extending harsher sentences for bribery. It turns out this goes all the way up to the Mayor and Warden of the prison. They want longer sentences since they make more money for each prisoner kept in prison, through keeping costs low and pocketing the remainder. This is an interesting implication that plays well into the idea of for profit prisons.

    From my perspective, a for profit prison seems like a poor idea. It incentivizes poor treatment of prisoners to maximize profits for a private company. This is a good example of something that a more impartial government might do best to manage. Although the gameplay suggests this might result in similar flaws via corruption, at least the incentive to mistreat prisoners is not necessarily baked into the business model.

    Back to the overall gameplay involved, I enjoyed moving the riot crews through and cleaning up the prison. I liked that another gameplay oriented moral choice appeared in the form of firing crews which would shoot on sight, and were a more aggressive alternative to the riot crews. However, this seemed half-baked as you only received one and were unable to call more making it less of a moral choice and more of just a showcase of other paths riots may take. That said, it was still a fun idea, and could be seen as necessary if the prison riot is getting out of hand and already costing many lives.

    Overall, I really enjoyed my time with Prison Architect, and plan to continue playing in my own time. I look forward to playing it more to fill out my future analysis as well. I do feel like maybe it could have been handled with a little more tact, but for just some random game about prisons it does a great job of handling it with care and interest, while also keeping the gamer engaged.
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    [January 16, 2018 07:13:15 PM]
    My second playing experience revolved around the second campaign mission. This mission tasks you with fixing up a prison that is experiencing a massive fire in its kitchen and canteen. First you have to put out the fires, rebuild, deal with consequences of the fire, and see to your prisonerís needs. Compared to the first mission, this one seemed to have less of a moral slant to it, and instead tried to tell a story about a mob crime family.

    This approach seemed a bit weaker from a thematic viewpoint for me, especially since there was a forced callback to the story in the first mission. There did not seem to be anything particularly compelling about the story told, nor was it a particularly well told story. It did end with a twist, as the daughter carries on the familyís legacy without her husband. I would not be surprised if this is followed up on in future missions. For the most part though, the story felt less substantial than mission one.

    Optional objectives with a moral slant return from the first mission. This time you can choose to better serve your prisonerís needs by giving them better food, recreation, and clean up the prison. If you accomplish all of these you are then prompted to set up a laundry service. The alternative is that you can ignore your prisonerís needs, and ensure their behavior with more force. The game does not particularly emphasize one as better over the other, but the fact that it is more work to treat your prisonerís well definitely incentivizes other options to a degree. However, itís hard to tell without more time building my own prison if this really works out to be an easier pathway.

    Overall, the game still has a compelling tone to it. I could see an argument being made that the developers should not allow the player to run an unethical prison or treat their prisonerís poorly. However, I think that without the option to go both ways the choice is hollow and less meaningful. It is more rewarding if you are given an option to make these decisions as a player. Also, in the context of a video game, particularly a simulation, it can be valuable to try out less ethical choices to see what outcomes result. This can be helpful when it is not clear what an ethical choice might be, providing a chance to experiment with the tools given. This does rely on the simulation being an adequate expression of real life, but regardless valuable lessons like that can only be learned if multiple viewpoints are represented.
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    [January 15, 2018 10:02:47 PM]
    For my first gamelog for Prison Architect, I played through the first and part of the second campaign mission. In the first mission you are tasked with preparing an execution facility for a prisoner who received the death penalty. While in the guise of a simulation game, different moral questions and ideas are brought up throughout this level. You are repeatedly told that this is just something we have to do and to let the law of the land handle the rest. However, you are given optional objectives to make the situation better for the prisoner. This includes making the waiting room cell more comfortable for the prisoner, as well as adding a path with lighting outside the facility. These little touches seem to be optional solely to force a moral choice from the player. Does this prisoner, guilty of a double murder, deserve better treatment in their last days?

    Ironically, after I did implement all these extra things for the sake of the prisoner, you are greeted with a detailed description of his crime. This slaughtering of two people puts a new light on whether this mercy is deserved. The entire concept of the death penalty in general is also questioned by a priestís character, where he notes that if the crime had occurred in a different location he would have simply received life in prison. This brings up the moral quandary of whether there is anything to be gained by utilizing the death penalty to punish someone for a crime. Does this eye for an eye approach adequately reduce the overall pain and hurt in the situation? This could be argued from a perspective of justice, for the living loved ones of the victims. However, on the flip side of this, it could be argued that killing another person just makes the situation more tragic and does nothing to rectify the crime involved.

    Overall, this was a great introduction to this game and the ideas it will present. I like this style of game in general, and I enjoy the way the developers of the game attempted to tackle the subject matter with more tact than might have been expected from a prison simulator. There is definitely a lot of room for this type of game to get a lot of things wrong, in matters of simply seeming like an exploitation or utilize stereotypes when it comes to prisoners. From this brief introduction, the game appears to tackle things from a more human perspective. I look forward to experimenting more with the campaign, and attempting to build up my own prison.
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    granto's Prison Architect (PC)

    Current Status: Playing

    GameLog started on: Monday 15 January, 2018

    granto's opinion and rating for this game

    No comment, yet.

    Rating (out of 5):starstarstarstarstar

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