Games Can Portray Limitless Worlds. Why Not One Without Prisons?

Games can be a key tool in reshaping our thoughts about crime and punishment.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

How absurd what sounds? Alternatives to prisons?

I wouldn’t use the word absurd but I absolutely would use unconvincing. How is there not ONE actual alternative offered in an article about alternatives to prisons? If the author couldn’t think of any, then perhaps the question in the headline has been answered.

Don’t take me wrong. I clicked the article because I was genuinely interested in hearing a convincing argument for abolishing prisons. The only thing I got out of it is that prisons as currently implemented in the US are pretty broken, which is not particularly shocking news. I haven’t read the book linked in the article (Are Prisons Obsolete?) but on a quick google search, there doesn’t seem to be much of a solution offered there either. So I’m mostly just disappointed, is the thing.

Interesting idea for an article but I’m disappointed it doesn’t touch more on what the author would like to see out of a game about prison abolition. The concept is interesting and would make for an interesting mechanic I think in something like a city builder or even something larger in scale like Stellaris. Bringing up SimCity is a great idea but then there’s nothing expanded upon that. Like what would you like to see replace the prison in SimCity? Would you want it to be a thing you unlock later down the road as something to replace prisons as way to maybe direct players into looking into these concepts themselves outside of the game?

There’s a lot more that could be touched on here and that’s kind of what I expected after reading the title. No offense to the author but all this article did was just state facts, offer up an idea that prison abolition should be looked at more, and then basically say “it sure would be neat if we had games that touched on this” without offering anything substantial as to how games could tackle such a difficult topic.

I think the article succeeds in exploring the topic in enough depth to inspire any writers reading it to take such things into consideration, as it did for me. I absolutely agree that games cfan and should be used as a testing grounds for soch things, and it’s definately something I’m taking into consideration as I write my own stuff. So in that sense, I’d say it was very successful.

Good stuff.

The US prison system is a mess, no doubt, but the author seems to jump from that point to suggesting that prisons are an inherently terrible concept without much justification and no reference to anything outside of the US. Perhaps the book mentioned offers more of a connection. The ideas in the article are interesting but I don’t think it justifies itself as an article as opposed to, say, a tweet about the book and suggesting ‘what if this were in games?’.