Prison Architect: An Unfair Review of an Unfinished Video Game

Prison Architect - PriestOn the fifth night of my prison’s existence, during the third riot in 24 hours, one exceptionally frustrated prisoner used a knife he smuggled in to stab an already-unconscious guard. He stabbed him to death. The prisoner then got hold of that guard’s keys and, with two fellow prisoners – one maximum security prisoner and another on normal security (both of whom were already known to cause damage and harm to my guards) – bypassed the main riot and walked straight to the Psychologist’s office. The Psychologist who, all along, has been profiling the increasingly unsanitary mob – cataloging their needs, displaying to me how hungry they are, how unhappy – how apt to violence they have quickly become. They walked into his office and stabbed him like it was nothing out of the ordinary, but also like it was something they’d been planning for a long time.

So far mine is a small enough prison to where no riots have yet reached Attica status, but I’m man enough to admit my prison is totally broken. Daily income can’t keep up with the constant repairs needed by rioting prisoners. Guards can’t stay alive long enough to keep a paycheck and I couldn’t afford to pay them if they did. My prison, filename good.prison, once had rigid regime. It followed a daily routine! It had working showers! That was yesterday. Today, good.prison has degenerated into fenced pandemonium. I think I wasn’t feeding them enough. But I guess I still don’t really know exactly what went wrong. After all, nobody was willing to go into the showers after the first “incident.” Shower time came. Nobody went. I’ll never know why. I don’t even want to know. Watching the quiet, peaceful family visit of a guy named Pennock – who got sent to solitary for shanking a guard – just felt perverse. You rapidly grow desensitized to prison violence to the point where you’d rather watch one of your contractors install electrical cable than take the time to witness a series of shower-stabbings out of Oz. Or maybe you wouldn’t. This game gives you that choice.

Prison Architect Review
The winner of a knife fight lies unconscious in the floor, dying.

The only direct control you have over your guards is to click on a prisoner and have him searched, so I probably should have searched all my prisoners for contraband upon arrival. However, just like authentic American prisons, the intake rate is so high in Prison Architect that you can only give each individual so much attention while tending to the whole horrendously overcrowded system at one time. But after enough armed convicts break the line, surrounding inmates gain confidence and join the fight. Before you know it, 18 inmates are tearing down every gate you thought was secure, and then going straight for the psychologist whose job is to warp their minds and break their psyche down into the well behaved license plate stampers God wants them to be.

While Prison Architect is a well-polished Alpha, there are still a few game-breaking bugs; namely, what’s done with all the dead people lying around. After the mayhem of the game-finishing Third Riot, I noticed four hearses lined up outside my prison. My morgue was packed full of dead bodies, all of them guards, and so were the infirmary beds. Because the AI does not dispose of the dead yet, gamers complain on forums about their sprawling, growing morgues. Dead guards, prisoners and staff now litter the main drag of my prison as a reminder of the terrible situation all around them, permanent monuments to chaos.

Prison Architect Review - Morgue

But don’t take my word for it. Witness these horrors for yourself. The earlier you register this game, the cheaper it will be. That said, $30 is still pretty high for a broken game only in Alpha. On that note, Prison Architect has surpassed the $4 million mark. That’s how much Mojang made with Minecraft prior to MineCon in 2011, which celebrated the official release of the game.

The Prison Architect development team, Introversion Software, has crowd-sourced prisoner diversity by allowing their premium player base to write in the names and biographies of at least one prisoner per player. They suggested players use their own names but I created a fictitious prisoner named Frank “The Free” Mason, named after The Internet Chronicle‘s shittiest dead writer. Approving the massive swarm of incoming biographies sounds like a difficult task but the developers say just about anything goes and, considering how much money they’re making from the Alpha release alone, it’s safe to assume they will hire an editorial team to clean everything up closer to Beta.

Try not to let anyone die until the next Alpha update (current version is a-11).

ROMNEY USES COCAINE; American People to Romney Campaign: Go For The Nostrils!

DENVER, COLO. — Americans were excited today about reports deep within the bowels of the Romney campaign that the former Massachusetts governor is ready to go after President Obama’s use of marawana and cocaine as a teenager.

“I mean, this is a guy who admitted to cocaine use,” says a Romney adviser to Buzzfeed, “had a sweetheart deal with his house in Chicago, and was associated and worked with Rod Blagojevich to get Valerie Jarrett appointed to the Senate,” adding, “The bottom line is there’ll be counterattacks.”

President Obama has made a point of discussing his own history of using cocaine, which he refers to by its crass street name of “blow;” as well as his inhaling the vapours of the ever-popular devil weed itself. His popular autobiography, “The Audacity of Hope,” whose sales are his primary source of income — second only to “cash money” reportedly obtained selling automatic firearms to Mexican drug cartels — is a book basically about how the 44th president of the United States loved using drugs. President Obama has met desperate, repeated online pleas he legalize recreational cannabis use with guffaws and denials that he would act to liberate from a kyriarchy the American people, now arbitrarily incarcerated at rates unrivaled in the developed world.

Despite many reports, including out of Forbes magazine, that Portugal’s drug legalization policy has decimated that country’s drug abuse, Gil Kerlikowski, head of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, has stated that legalization does not combat the ills of illicit drug use. And last month, before Congress, the head of the Drug Enforcement Agency, Michele Leonhart, reiterated her administration’s commitment to utter hysteria and lack of focus on a public health crisis.

Before finally admitting, after much pressure, that heroin was more addictive than cannabis, Ms. Leonhart first characterized the matter of whether heroin is worse for an individual’s health than cannabis as “subjective.” This admission followed deliberately dishonest exchanges with Democratic Representative Jared Polis of Colorado:

REPRESENTATIVE JARED POLIS (D-CO): Is crack [a street name for free-based cocaine – ed] worse for a person than marijuana?

MICHELE LEONHART: I believe all illegal drugs are bad.

REP. POLIS: Is methamphetamine worse for somebody’s health than marijuana?

MS. LEONHART: I don’t think any illegal drug is good for —

REP. POLIS: Is heroin worse for someone’s health than marijuana?

MS. LEONHART: Again, all [sic] the drugs, they are illegal.

The administration’s enforcement strategies square well with the Romney campaign’s assessment of the president pro-drug attitudes, the unmistakable products of hedonistic, if-it-feels-good-do-it ’60s culture. Meanwhile the deputy director of NORML, a shady druggie front group, longs for the good old days under President George Bush when Californian sludge distributors operating under the guise of “medical clinics” “helping people in pain” could operate with relative impunity, writing this week, “Many of California’s most prominent and well-respected medical cannabis dispensaries and related facilities — including Oaksterdam University, Berkeley Patients Group, and Harborside Health Center (HHC) — flourished under the George W. Bush administration. But they’ll be lucky to survive President Barack Obama’s first term.”

Medical health professionals consulted off-the-record by The Internet Chronicle speculate that President Obama’s laser obsession with his administration’s present drug enforcement strategies is likely the result of the delusion and vigor associated, they say, “unmistakably” with cocaine psychosis.

After bragging to high school students in December of 2007 about how cool drugs are, then Senator Obama became the focus of the popular prohibitionist scrutiny. Obama’s candor with students came on the heels of the leak of an audiotape of President George W. Bush citing a responsibility to America’s youth to prevaricate about his own drug use — not to protect his own career, of course, but to shield them from the enormous influence the president of the United States has had on American teenagers since the Founding Fathers.

Years ago the Romney campaign pounced on the opportunity to praise President Bush’s bold, private confession to smoking weed. Mr. Romney said then, “He said when he was young and irresponsible, he was young and irresponsible, and he left it at that. And I think that in order to leave the best possible example for our kids, we’re probably wisest not to talk about our own indiscretions in great detail.”

Mr. Romney’s strategy is “simple yet elegant,” says Political Science Professor Alan Abramowitz of Emory University, adding, “It allows the candidate to bask in the veneer of family values while remaining duplicitous about that bottle of Coca-Cola he is rumored to have enjoyed, covertly, while on missionary work in France on behalf of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”