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Prison Architect to tackle complex social issues

Introversion's Chris Delay, the man behind management sim Prison Architect, has told Eurogamer that the title will deal with "a lot of the issues that occur in prisons," but that he's currently undecided whether its themes will encompass sexual assault.

Chris Delay of UK indie Introversion has expressed the team's intention to tackle complex social issues with its upcoming management sim, Prison Architect.

"We didn't want to pick a tough topic like prisons and just make something completely cursory and surface level stupid," Delay told Eurogamer.

"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."

This balancing act means that while topics such as violence, verbal bullying and trading in contraband will certainly feature in the game, the decision of whether to include any reference to sexual assault inside the prison is yet to be taken.

"I will tell you we don't have that occurring anywhere in the game currently," Delay stated, then added: "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."

Despite the recent furore caused by the perceived threat of sexual assault in Crystal Dynamics' E3 Tomb Raider showing, Delay believes that games can tackle controversial real-world themes and so racism and racial tension will feature in Prison Architect.

"Race is in the game and will be [a part of] the game," Delay confirmed. "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."

Delay went on to explain that sensitive issues shouldn't be avoided by video games, but conceded that they must be dealt with in the right way.

"There's no reason why games can't deal with much more serious topics," Delay said. "It's much harder. I'm very conscious of the fact you can't just trivially deal with issues like rape or race. You have to consider what it is you want to put in. It just makes it a lot harder."

"They're very difficult questions that will probably only be resolved by extremely talented writers getting involved and figuring out how to meld that craft with video games."

Prison Architect is currently in development by Introversion, the developer responsible for Defcon, Uplink and Darwinia. The game is intended to launch later this year for PC.

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