Prison Industrial Complex: Current Development Part 1

As I’ve worked through my currently titled project, “Prison Industrial Complex: A Game” it’s become larger, more detailed, and more interesting. To summarize, this game explains details about the private prison system from the perspective of a dystopian machine. The tone is cynicism and it engages the player to answer questions.

Still at the planning and structuring phase, I’m finding myself engaged in so many methods of planning and diagramming. I’d like to take a moment to cover this process.

Initial Diagrams

After my sketches on graph paper but before the wireframes, I create outlines that organize a variety of notes relating to game components, UI elements, research notes, and programming notes. On a side note, the Mac application, “Tree 2″ is supremely useful for this purpose.

Prison Industrial Complex

The game/narrative will include layers information while simultaneously testing the participant. For example prison data will be populated in the background of the game creating a graph. Also on the drawing board is the implementation of a live Twitter feed relating to the company Corrections Corp Of America. That’s a possibility. A maybe. If the Twitter content is interesting, it will work. What I know will be definitively included is live stock market data relating to the company. My hopes is that the game design increasingly feels chaotic, distracting. Something that could parallel the tone of loud sounds and lights.


At this stage in the process, all the details of the game itself are not in place. I still need to dive deeper into the subject matter which will likely allow me to generate more details. So the wireframes currently represent a broad type of interaction. Certain types of screens will exist and I am focused on designing those parts currently.

Idle Screen Voice

The wireframe above represents the “Idle Screen”. This screen introduces the narrator of the game which is represented by vertical lines. The vertical lines are visualization of the voice/audio. So as the narrator speaks, the lines fluctuate in height.


The following wireframe represents a “Question” screen that offers three answer options to the player. This project is being designed with the Leap Motion in mind and so a player will move their hand horizontally across the Leap Motion in order to select an option. Once their hand is idle over an option for a length of time, a countdown timer begins, counting down from 3 to 0. Once that countdown completes, that selection is official. This approach is meant to compensate for a click function.


I’m often inspired by Russian constructivism, minimalism, as well as grunge typography from David Carson. I don’t intend to abandon all typographic rules and I understand there’s a contradiction in the influences listed, however I hope to either strike a balance or create a contrast. We will see.




Application Diagrams

As a part of this process, I’m introducing myself to UML diagrams. It’s a fascinating additional part of this process. Relating the UML diagrams to the designs and wireframes really changes my perspective on those parts of development.


Sound Design & Music

During this fresh development I’m scrapping my previous approach where I placed most of the logic in MaxMSP. Max is a flow based programming language but became… obviously inefficient when dealing with the logic of this game. At least it’s inefficient with it’s built in objects. I might consider writing my own Max objects in the future. I’m told it’s pretty easy to do so in Java (as opposed to C++).

For now however, the logic is now in Processing while the sound, music, some math, and video processing effects will reside within Max. One part of this project that I’m very excited to present eventually is the music. The music will be partially algorithmic but more importantly shift and change as the user progresses through the game–as is generally expected. My intention is to create a tension through the music that hopefully influences the experience of the gameplay. I will arrive at that stage eventually.

Screen Shot 2015-07-04 at 1.25.51 PM

This completes the first summary of my development process.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *