There is a special program in Argentina that teaches prisoners different game development skills. Some of them have already made simple HTML5 titles.
A screenshot from Speed Life, a text adventure game developed by one of the Argentine prisoners
Rest of World published a report about the Video Game Development in Prison program on April 6 (spotted by Stephen Totilo). It has operated in three prison units in Argentina, where prisoners take part in weekly game development workshops.
They learn the basics of storytelling, programming, game design, sound design, and other skills needed to create their own projects. Tools and software such as Fruity Loops, Twine, and the Construct engine are used by teachers.
However, it was a real challenge to convince authorities to invest in such a program because they were . Prisons have limited budgets for non-essential activities. “There’s a lot of resistance by the penitentiary system to update the educational content that students have access to,” game designer and university teacher Mishka Palacios de Caro told Rest of World.
Most projects developed under the Video Game Development in Prison program are dedicated to prison life and the challenges that come with it. One of the students, for example, pitched a game about a person who falls in love with someone outside the prison, so they have to hide a phone from guards and keep the romance alive while risking being discovered and punished.
Some of the prisoners-developed games are HTML5 browser text-based adventures. Some of them can be played for free on itch.io.
According to prison system adviser López González, the Video Game Development in Prison program has the recreational and educational value. “While in prison, their lives are, in a sense, paused, but the outside world doesn’t wait for them either,” Palacios de Caro noted. “Many can’t cope with society’s increasing demands when they’re released.”