Introversion have slaughtered billions through Defcon and stolen millions through Uplink, but it is their latest project that is perhaps the most thematically controversial. Prison Architect, a maximum-security prison sim due for release on PC later this year, has been revealed to include some of the more indecent aspects of incarceration.
Chris Delay, the brains behind the project, recently revealed to Eurogamer that the team will tackle some of the complex social issues that arise from the prison theme:
“We didn’t want to pick a tough topic like prisons and just make something completely cursory and surface level stupid. We wanted to do it properly. It is a game and there are concessions to it being a game. We’re not out to make an experience that’s utterly horrific to play. We’re not aiming to make the player deeply uncomfortable.”
“We’re taking a topic which is interesting because it doesn’t have any clear yes or no, good or bad answers, and we’re making a game out of it. But we’re certainly not going to make a game about prisons without dealing with a lot of the issues that occur in prisons.”
One of the issues that will definitely be included is race:
“Race is in the game and will be [a part of] the game. Race is going to be a causal factor in a lot of other things. The most obvious one is gang alignment. A lot of gangs are founded on racial terms. It’s one particular race in one particular gang. It’ll be interesting to see what the response is to that. We’re treading so far into a zone that’s difficult to deal with without offending people.”
Introversion are no strangers to straddling morally questionable thematic lines, but there is potentially one aspect of prison society that they may shy away from – the topic of sexual assault:
“It’s pretty much a no-go area for games, isn’t it? I will tell you we don’t have that occurring anywhere in the game currently. It might be a step too far. It might be too much. But that said, I don’t know. I haven’t made the final decision on that.”
The interview then moves on to the industry in general and why taboo subjects, that we see regularly in other forms of media, are often off of the table for the interactive medium.
Handled correctly, the taboo can be an incredibly potent element of a game. It can make people re-evaluate prejudice or simply become less ignorant of the world and its problems. Delay and the Introversion team seem well aware of the care required when crafting such elements, and I for one will be behind them no matter what topics they decide to broach.
Stay tuned as we here at We Got This Covered will keep you up-to-date on all of the information that escapes about Prison Architect.