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    Emma Morrissey's Prison Architect (PC)

    [January 18, 2018 08:51:05 AM]
    Today I continued on the campaign mode of Prison Architect and was faced with somewhat different circumstances this time. The kitchen caught fire and my inmates were not able to eat for a day or so. The CEO who serves as somewhat of a tutorial character informed me to first hire more guards after the fire was extinguished. This surprised me. I could have started building a new kitchen and dining area right away to make sure that the inmates were fed and then hired guards, but the game forced me to instead make sure that security was priority. After I figured out how to deploy guards, my prisoners were already very unhappy.

    So far, Prison Architect has suggested comfort first for the prisoners. The CEO often mentions installing a nicer floor, or maybe some windows in the buildings I'm making. This was the first decision in game (aside from putting a prisoner to death, which is obviously not a comfortable thing to do) that made me wonder if this was a decision real prison overseers had to make.

    Aside from the fire happening, two inmates are now squabbling over wether or not they will inherit the family business of running a gang. There's also reasonable suspicion that their sister is bringing in narcotics. There's not much reason given for me to feel bad for these particular prisoners, but I still do. They ran large, hard drug rings, which in my eyes is a good reason to be jailed. I'm more concerned with the standard of living they'll be having at my prison. The CEO left me with a decision to make today--I could work with the prisoners' needs, or disregard them and assume total control.
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    [January 17, 2018 12:53:29 PM]
    Today I figured out how to get the campaign running after struggling to build a prison from the ground up again. The campaign mode examines a certain dilemma that could occur in a prison. The first focused on a man who killed his wife and her lover who is up for the death penalty. This already paints a grim picture of what is to come in this chapter of the game. The story is primarily shown through flashback cutscenes to what the characters did to get them to this point. After killing two people, the man immediately goes to a church and asks for forgiveness from a priest, who says that the right thing to do is to turn himself in. While he will be punished by the state, God will forgive him, the priest says.

    As the man is escorted to the execution room, the chief of security discusses with the priest how it was okay that he would die. The priest argues that had he committed the crime out of the city, he would only serve a life sentence.

    I think this was done to have players sympathize with the prisoners. While there is "nothing we can do" according to the CEO of the prison, the game certainly prompts players to think about what could be done for a man who sincerely regrets his actions. I certainly think this game could influence player behavior because of that scene. It feels different to be in control of a character's death instead of passively watching on TV or in a movie. While it was certainly uncomfortable to play this chapter of the game, I feel that in order to get the message of the game across it was what had to be done. Influencing player behavior in this case, was the desired effect and what had to be done to achieve that was a graphic (in some senses) storyline that the player controls.
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    [January 16, 2018 08:19:49 PM]
    The start of Prison Architect was somewhat rocky for me. This was either due to the fact I can sometimes be technologically inept or the game was having some trouble running on my unfortunate macbook pro (which usually only has to run art software or text editors for coding).

    I found the beginning of the game to be quite abrupt, I enjoy being thrown into the midst of things and Prison Architect did not disappoint. The tutorial involves building a new room for a prisoner who is going to be put to death: you are called by the CEO who states rather bluntly that this prisoner needs this room "for his big day". Said prisoner is in jail for double murder, but I can check his information to see that he has a wife, two children, and a living father. I also am the one in control of the electric chair that I've built- having been given the ability to turn it off and on.

    I ran into some issue with the game here, where I could not successfully designate rooms to be a cell or an execution room. I ended up restarting the game after attempting to figure out what was wrong for the first fifteen minutes. I was then thrown into a blank slate instance of the game where I had to build everything from scratch.

    So far, I feel the most notable part of this game is the player needing to consider everything a prison would need in a real world setting. I've realized that I will likely need to write out a budget for this game and do some difficult thinking on where to allocate resources. While I want to do as little harm as possible, this is a maximum security prison and some prisoners will be put to death as part of their sentencing. While they're just bits of information on a computer, I feel empathy for them and want to make their digital lives comfortable while also somehow managing resources. This game has certainly changed my way of thinking in order to adapt to playing. It's blunt with what must happen in order to maintain a virtual prison (poor living conditions, killing prisoners, etc.) and could be considered by some to be unethical for possibly altering player behavior to contradict beliefs.

    I think this is a bit of a stretch because so far it has not been gratuitously gory or anything of that nature. The game feels very corporate and impersonal. Players do not have to look at prisoner stats on their lives if they do not want to. It makes me think about how difficult it must be to manage a real prison with real people! I think that is the true ethical commentary of the game. While the game itself seems pretty typical for a simulator (though dark in nature), players inevitably consider how real prisons are managed and how the people in them are being treated. This aspect of the game interests me quite a bit because so far Prison Architect has been very difficult! I will look deeper into possible ethical issues within the game itself when I play again, but from the surface, Prison Architect plays like I would expect a prison simulator to be like.
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    Emma Morrissey's Prison Architect (PC)

    Current Status: Playing

    GameLog started on: Tuesday 16 January, 2018

    Emma Morrissey's opinion and rating for this game

    I had some technical difficulties playing this game. The tutorial would not work and I ended up having to learn from a blank slate. Steep learning curve, but that's to be expected from a sim like this.

    Rating (out of 5):starstarstarstar

    Related Links

    See Emma Morrissey's page

    See info on Prison Architect

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