"Prison Architect" is a simulation game in which players construct and manage a private prison stylistically similar to a U.S. facility. The architectural component derives from the requirement that players design all of the material aspects of the complex.
The game was initially available for pre-order on Sept. 25, 2012 as a crowdfunded alpha, and as of July 2015, it remains early-access. Because of this, aspects of the game are subject to revision. "Prison Architect" does not feature a campaign or story mode; rather, each map randomly generates at the start of a new play session and may vary in size and terrain type. While it is possible to modify the starting conditions such that some pre-built structures are present, in most cases the player designs all external and internal elements of the prison. Workmen are present as characters available to hire, allowing players to construct and renovate at any time during gameplay.
Upon completion of construction of a basic facility, a number of prisoners - predetermined by the player - arrive at the prison on a daily basis. The player has the option to control all aspects of prisoner routine while establishing mechanisms to prevent their escape. Successful completion of tasks provides a monetary bonus that allows further expansion or modernization of the prison.