Prison Architect – Cubicle Schmubicle

Full Disclosure: It’s 1:37 am and I’m a little tipsy.

I recently quit my job. This job had 22 weeks of paid vacation. Now I work in a cubicle in an office for 3 weeks of paid vacation (but a healthy pay bump). Being under the harsh glow for a continuous nine hour stretch for the first time in more years than I can count tipsy has put me into a somewhat-more-unbalanced-than-usual state of mind. It’s a walking(sitting?)/waking-dream like state where nothing exists except for the computer screen and three fuzzy half walls that are never exactly pleased with what I need to do to get through the day for them and for me, and a semi-constant hum of air conditioning, the snack table, and telephones. Turning 40 recently has also exacerbated this somewhat metaphysical condition, to the point where, during the day, I lose all semblance of my former personality, and can really only communicate verbally though a series of business buzzwords from the 80s, that still seem to work today for some weird reason, power suit, synergy, rebranding.

I just made the company 73 million dollars.

So I started playing Prison Architect for a completely unrelated reason.


Prison Architect – I wish I could spend all day thinking about dogs.

This game has been out for a few years now, I got fed up with Sips fucking things up all over the place and fixing things that didn’t need fixing, so I decided to try it for myself.

I learned these things really quickly.

  1. Watching 50 hours of Sips’ gameplay of Prison Architect through various runs does not in any way translate into actual gaming experience.
  2. I am far more shit that Sips at realizing what’s going wrong at any given moment, because my first prison after the intro turned into a riot where 75% of the prison population escaped in about 35 seconds.
  3. It’s a pretty fun game.

I’m aware that by reviewing a 2 year old game, we’re not going to cover any new ground (cough cough retro game reviews are bullshit cough cough), but there’s something really satisfying about this game. It still seems to be getting updates and improvements even this much later, which must be hell on the devs. Could you imagine if they actually went to prison after making something like this? It’d be like serving two sentences at once, but only one is real, the other one is like fighting against Shadow Link in your mind.

Did I mention that it’s 2:04 am, and I’m a bit tipsy?


Prison Architect – This is not a good idea.


I guess what was surprising to me is that the game has an amazing amount of depth in it, and your prison is not something you just keep building onto, it’s something that you have to build and reshape and repurpose as you’re going. An hour or two in after the tutorial, and every little of the first iteration of my prison exists. I mean, like 75% percent of my prisoners are gone, and I think I’m fucked, but they haven’t shut me down yet. I might be able to linger on. I mean, this is modelled after the US right? They fuck up prisons, like, all the time.

About fucking up, which happens, often, one of the things that I really appreciate about this game is that they do disasters right. In Sim City, when you got hit with an earthquake or if a tornado got your power plants, you were basically screwed. In this game though, while the emergencies can really do a number on your prison, they feel much more balanced. Sure, I lost 75% of my prison population, but the other 25% were unconscious on the floor or dead, so it felt like I had something to work with. I’ll see how it goes after writing this article, I might change my mind if I get shut down.


Prison Architect – Bleakfield Federal


Right now, I’m only a few hours into the game, and this is what I’ve built. Good old Bleakville National. This is 2 days before everything went to hell. It’s a nice little cozy prison. Maybe I shouldn’t have let 30 prisoners all stay in the same holding cell for like ever. Maybe I should have hooked up this shower. Meh?

Look at me, I’d be a perfect warden for a for-profit prison. And that’s what’s important. I think I need to play another round.

2:19am. More than tipsy.

The Burpy Fresh crew is heading to the wonderful BIC (Busan Indie Connect) Festival for the weekend! It’s Korea’s premiere (read: only) indie gaming event, so if you’re in the country you should definitely come. We’ll be the guys passed out naked on the beach!

Come on out? It’s better than a cubicle, no?