A strategy game which challenges players to create and manage a private prison empire has outraged some observers.
Of ValuSoft’s Prison Tycoon 4: Supermax, the Criminal Justice blog writes:
[Building] a private prison? Who would want to spend free time building an elaborate cage, allowing gang wars, drugs and racial violence to fester in an attempt to earn more money? This is the fourth version of the game, so apparently someone is playing it.
I guess there’s a video game version of nearly everything one can imagine. But the existence of this game… highlights the disturbing prevalence of prisons in our society. This game takes for granted that prisons are everywhere and that they are simply a tool for profit. That’s a sad place to be.
The architecturally-oriented BldgBlog couches its dismay in sarcasm:
The description of Prison Tycoon 4: SuperMax… urges players to experiment in the architectural framing and administrative implementation of prison life.
"Build a profitable privately run prison from the ground up… Grow your facility to SuperMax capabilities, housing the most dangerous and diabolical criminals on earth – all for the bottom line."
Putting moral limits on our imaginations temporarily aside, perhaps we could even conceive of Prison Tycoon 5: Guantánamo Bay, or Prison Tycoon 6: Austrian Basement Edition. Prison Tycoon 7: Gulag. Prison Tycoon 8: Escape from Abu Ghraib…
Prison Photography takes a more blunt view:
Prison Tycoon is less gratuitous than Grand Theft Auto and the like. But I don’t know if this is any comfort. To manipulate a virtual prison population with “friendly interaction and fighting between inmates dependent upon mood and gang affiliation” and to rely on “guards [who] will subdue aggressive prisoners, medical staff to treat injuries, chaplains administer to prisoner’s spiritual needs and therapists talk to prisoners to lift their spirits” seems a bit too sinister and calculated for an evening of gaming…
Really, why does this game exist? I suppose it is just completing the loop – the gamer, as a God of Pixels, can create criminals in his other games and then manipulate them in this one.