Transformative Gaming

Games have the power to make us better people; they teach us to manage our emotions, improve our thinking, and build connections and community between different groups of people. They also alleviate boredom, reduce stress, and have clear neurocognitive benefits such as teaching resilience, increased focus, literacy, and math skills. However, gameplay in carceral settings has even more significant benefits; it improves the culture inside prisons. 

California prisons are racially segregated. With few exceptions, incarcerated people eat, sleep, and sit in separate groups. The reasons for this are long and complicated, but regardless, it’s antisocial behavior and presents real problems.

However, even in heavily segregated prisons, there is usually one exception, a place where people of different races, gender identities, and affiliations congregate freely- the gamer table. It is both revolutionary and unremarkable, but that is what games do. They bring us together. We all experience the beauty in a brilliant move, the elation of a hard-won victory, and the sting of defeat equally.

The science behind the benefits of gameplay is decisive, but it’s also intuitive; games teach people to think before they move. That is a  lesson not lost on a community that has often done the polar opposite.

Allowing incarcerated people access to games also benefits the community. Most incarcerated people will eventually be released. In our experience, everyone hopes it is the nerds who move in next door. Please help us make more of them! With your help, we can fight segregation, improve rehabilitative outcomes and bring some small joy to incarcerated people.

Please support us by becoming a member or donating below.

Click here to read a testimonial from I. Hamilton about the benefits of gameplay in carceral settings.

Click here to see the research compiled by the inside volunteers working on this campaign.

Support this Campaign

Partnerships with Carceral Facilities

Although the initial donations of this campaign are taking place currently at San Quentin, it is our intention to broaden our horizons as we grow as an organization. If you work in administration at a jail or prison and would like to partner with us as we continue to donate games please reach out to us at:, call us at (415) 275-2058, or fill out the contact form located on our Contact Us page.

Contact Us:; 1(415)275-2058

San Quentin SkunkWorks is a nonprofit, tax-exempt charitable organization (tax ID number 88-3852173) under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Donations are tax-deductible as allowed by law.