Analyze This: Prison Architect Alpha 18 Adds Therapy

But when will an update add Blues Brothers concerts?

Prison Architect is forever trapped between two political poles: the side that says that prisoners should be locked up, punished, and left to rot; and the side that thinks they should be reformed, educated, and made better able to return to society and not re-offend. Introversion want both methods to have value within their management game, and alpha 18 takes the first steps towards enabling the liberal half by adding therapists.

Also tazers. New update video below.

Therapy is the first of a spread of planned methods for reforming your prisoners. It’s designed to be a hard thing; it takes five, two-hour sessions with a therapist for a prisoner to show any progress, and even if they attend all five without being shivved in the showers, there’s no guarantee the process will work. If it does though, it’ll reduce that prisoner’s “boiling point”, the stage at which they turn Hulk and start acting violently.

As part of the reformation process, you might want to educate your prisoners in various trade skills to help them after they leave your prison walls. Previously you could send any old inmate into your workshop and kitchen and instantly have them stamping out number plates for you to sell, but now you need to send them to a class program first which will teach them how to use the machinery and stop them from slicing their own hands off in the kitchen. Beyond that, you can send your prisoners to general education programs, which involves building them a classroom and bringing in a teacher each day to lead the class.

If all this education lark sounds technical, no worries. The update also expands alpha 17’s armoury, introducing tazers alongside the previous deadly weaponry. You can distribute those tazers among your guards and dog handlers and use them as a non-deadly way of incapacitating unruly prisoners.

You can read a full list of changes over at the Introversion blog.


  1. JamesTheNumberless says:

    Yay more complexity! Unfortunately, as a mere mortal, I’m still waiting for the “Prison Architect re-balances everything and adds a paced tutorial mode” article :(

    • Dominare says:

      From a design POV there isn’t a great deal of point working on balance while content is still being added since new features often impact old ones and alter the interactions between them. In other words, yes many things about prison architect are not balanced properly at the moment, but that’s to be expected. It’s still fun to spend an hour on every now and again IMO.

    • Carra says:

      I’ve spent some time with the beta until everything went horribly wrong and my entire staff was murdered. Part of the learning process…

      I’ll give it another go once it’s released.

    • Leb says:

      turn off constant prisoner intake, and take on the grants. The grants are effectively the in game tutorial, they have you complete the basic necessities of making a prison and reward you with money for doing so.

  2. Dozer says:

    I find this track quite therapeutic myself. link to

  3. LionsPhil says:

    it’ll reduce that prisoner’s “boiling point”

    Wouldn’t that make it more likely for their simmering rage to erupt all over your cooking surfaces in a fountain of violence?

  4. Sharlie Shaplin says:

    That poor guard after 27 minutes 30secs!

  5. SillyWizard says:

    At work so unable to watch a 30 minute video, so my apologies if this question is addressed, but — will there be a broad range of therapies on offer? Mindfulness, yoga, animal-therapy, in addition to the more standard/accepted practices?

    • Nevard says:

      At the moment it looks like no, though if that’s not simply because they haven’t implemented more yet (easier to test when there’s just one) or aren’t going to at all I don’t know.
      I’m sure mods’ll fix it if it’s the latter!

    • Leb says:

      In addition to the regular therapy, you also have the chance to teach your inmates.

      Courses include basic (elementary school) education, advanced education, as well as courses in trades. You now need your prisoners to pass the workshop safety class before being able to work in the workshop, cooking class to be a chef, etc etc.

  6. Awesumo says:

    Maybe therapy will help all my prisoners that are depressed because they are past their release date, it really reduces my slaves prisoners productivity.

  7. HisDivineOrder says:

    I think this game should have a spinoff:

    Prison Architect: Gitmo.

    You’re in charge of a SECRET prison where all sorts of untoward and morally gray things can be done to prisoners to extract apparently useless information that is often laden with lies and half-truths. Still, you build your rooms with “water” stations, your rooms with car batteries, your rooms with speakers and bright lights, and then the well-hidden holes in the ground without lights or windows.

    Your measure of success is NOT if you manage to get a single shred of credible intelligence to use against terrorists, but in fact if you keep your prison looking like it’s probably providing credible intelligence if only people had the clearance level to see for themselves.

    Prison Architect: Gitmo. I’d imagine the Prison Architect: Gitmo game could be followed by expansions including “The Old Soviet Prison” theme pack and “Lost in the Supermax” mission pack.

  8. lumex says:

    My heart bleeds for Chris Delay, what a funny last name. I have not kept track of this gave purely because I have been disinterested in its mechanics thus far. What he has included here truly makes this a game I want to succeed and look forward to watching. What a way to expand this game so humanly necessary, and to care for it enough that it expands minds just by watching a short dev video. Before, I would say how can you make a present day prison simulation without including these mechanisms. Now, I would say to any future developers how could you not.

  9. dissentience says:

    … and how does that make you feel?