Prison Architect

Learning from a Videogame

(developed by Introversion Software)


In 2012, an English videogame called Prison Architect was released and quickly became a bestseller. As the trailer says, "welcome to the world’s best 'lock em up”[1]. The player is invited to supervise the construction and daily management of a prison, moving through a 2D omnipresent plane. The player is also invited to manage the prison’s budget. It decreases with each expend and increases with each new inmate.

Its inhabitants are atoms in motion and, as the trailer goes, "all they seem to do is eat, shit and ... fight". Each event occurs guided by rules determined by algorithms. The creator of the game states that "life in prisons is still a set of strict rules, which makes it especially appropriate for computer simulation."[2] . Aren’t abstract prisons predictable and manageable universes, just like this video game teaches us?



[1] Initial phrase of the video game trailer. [2] Mark Morris, “Prison Architects, When videogame developers visit Alcatraz”, in “Prisons”, CLOG Editions, 2014.

This selection of images and comments was made by Prison to Prison based on YouTube tutorial videos that teach playing Prison Architect.

01


When starting, on the menu “Create a New Prison”, we can choose between a “small, medium or large” jail. “Yes! We are definitely gonna make a large prison!” We can also choose different condiments to make the game more challenging. For example: “Failure Conditions: An extra challenge! You will be sacked and it will be game over if you let things get too bad (riots, bankruptcy, too many deaths or escapes, etc.)”. Or, “Gangs: Some prisoners will arrive with gang allegiances and will attack rival gang members on site. Extra challenge.

Image and comments taken from: YouTube video “Prison Architect - Starting Out - PART #1”, User: Sips.

02


The organization chart of the prison shows us the different roles to be included, starting hierarchically from the figure of the "Warden”. Each new staff to be incorporated has a price that must be paid to be approved.

Image taken from: YouTube video “Prison Architect - Ep. 4 - Squashing the Riot! - Story Mode Chapter 3 - Let's Play”, User: Blitz.

03


Construction has begun! Starting from an empty plot, the first lines that will guide the construction are drawn. Each material and construction element is chosen from certain menus. The total available budget appears at the top of the screen. With each incorporation decreases, with each new prisoner increases.

Image taken from: YouTube video “Prison Architect - Starting Out - PART #1”, User: Sips.


04


First day with inmates inside! “Here they all come”. “I’m gonna have a jail door, not a normal door. I mean it’s not a place for people just to drop in and say Hi!, is it?”.

Image and comments taken from: YouTube video “Prison Architect - Intake - PART #2”, User: Sips.

05


Haciendo click en cada preso podemos ver su ficha y biografía. Glen McGrath ha sido sentenciado a 4 años por secuestro, ahora está en la celda solitaria. “He’s been put in solitary. He’s been punished”.

Imagen y comentarios tomados de: YouTube video “Prison Architect - Intake - PART #2”, User: Sips.

06


The CEO is to whom the prison belongs. He says: “It’s not our place to decide if he deserves this. The Law has made that decision. We’re here to do a job”.

Image taken from Google Images.

07


All I seem to do is eat, shit, and fight!

Image and comment taken from: YouTube video “Prison Architect Trailer”, User: IVSoftware.

08


Fight Time!

Image taken from: YouTube video “Prison Architect Trailer”, User: IVSoftware.



09


A squad of people crowd for a big fight in the showers.

Image taken from: YouTube video “Prison Architect Trailer”, User: IVSoftware.

10


A riot has started in the canteen. Finally, the police enter. Prisoners have hostages, including the prison's CEO. “Ok, they killed the CEO, so they killed everybody. That’s what lateral damage looks like”.

Image and comment taken from: YouTube video “Prison Architect - Ep. 4 - Squashing the Riot! - Story Mode Chapter 3 - Let's Play”, User: Blitz.

11


Build and manage a Maximum Security Prison. Prison Architect. Your Prison, Your Rules!

Image and comment taken from: YouTube video “Prison Architect Trailer”, User: IVSoftware.


12


Build and manage a Maximum Security Prison. Prison Architect. Your Prison, Your Rules!

Image and comment taken from: YouTube video “Prison Architect Trailer”, User: IVSoftware.

13


Build and manage a Maximum Security Prison. Prison Architect. Your Prison, Your Rules!

Imagen y comentario tomado de: YouTube video “Prison Architect Trailer”, User: IVSoftware.

14


Constructing a Building to house the Execution Facility”. “It would be really cool this time actually having an electric chair. I’ve played this game many, many times, but I don’t think I ever executed anyone. I would love to execute someone”.

Image and comment taken from: YouTube video “Prison Architect - Starting Out - PART #1”, User: Sips.