Bland Gift Manual, Prison City

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Bland Gift Manual, Prison City
Developer(s) ANC
Head Developer(s) Julius Malema
Publisher(s) Popstar South
Engine Honda
Release date(s) 11 February 1990 2002
Genre(s) Documentary
Rating(s) Mature esrb
Platform(s) A few here and there, mainly the courtyards, but they aren't very high.
Media(s) Newspaper and radio
System Requirements food, water, toilet

Bland Gift Manual, Prison City, commonly shortened to BGM Prison City, is a sandbox-style documentary computer and video game developed by the African National Congress (ANC) and published by Popstar South. It is the second 3D game in the Bland Gift Manual series and sixth original title overall. It was released in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Mozambique on February 11, 2002 for the PlayStation 2 and was later ported to the PC in 2003. Prison City was preceded by Bland Gift Manual: White Empowerment and followed by Bland Gift Manual: Black Empowerment. The next release in the series, which is currently under development, will be called Bland Gift Manual: Corruption City, featuring a new character by the name of Jacob Zuma.

The game is set in a redesigned rendition of Prison City, a fictional city based heavily on modern day Robben Island. It follows Nelson Mandela, a politician from South Africa, who comes to Prison City after being arrested for illegal activities surrounding the fight against apartheid and quickly becomes entangled in a seedy underworld of dirty toilets, confined cells, and malnutrition. "Closed-world" gameplay gives players very little control over their playing experience, however this special feature creates suspense and loneliness, allowing players to feel as though they are really imprisoned throughout the game.

A major commercial and critical success (within the southern hemisphere), BGM: Prison City broke records for highest sales in Zimbabwe, with sales of around 13 units on its first day of release and grossing just over seven billion Zimbabwean dollars in revenue in the first week, from an estimated 20 units sold worldwide. As of 11 February 2003, the game has sold over 21 copies.


BGM: Prison City is structured similarly to the previous game in the series. The core gameplay consists of giving the player a small, cramped environment, similar to a prison cell in which to move around. On foot, the player's character is capable of running around in circles, walking, jumping, doing hand-stands as well as doing exercises, such as push-ups, sit-ups and pull-ups. Players can also practice some of these activities in other areas of the game such as the showers and courtyard.

Storyline missions are necessary to progress through the game, however it is impossible to have multiple active missions, due to the fact that some missions will run over the course of several hours and will require the player to wait for further instructions, making the playing experience quite unexpected with many surprises, such as the sudden twist in the game where Mandela gets to write a letter to someone. <Insert spoiler warning here>

For the first time in the series, BGM, Prison City features "choices" at certain points in the game, in which the player has the opportunity to choose between certain scenarios, such as the choice between two types of meals, namely: bread served with water or porridge served with water. The game also features two different endings, which are determined by deciding which of the two missions to complete.

Interacting with other prisoners is not a good idea, resort to alienation instead.

Actions and Response[edit]

The walking system has been reworked to a third-person scheme. The player can now sit on a ledge or slab of concrete, stand up slowly, walk from one end of the cell to the other and then sit right back down again. When not sitting down, the player can also lie down on either the floor or the same slab of concrete that was sat on.

Players can now talk to other characters within the game, such as prisoners or even the prison guards, however they cannot fight with them, because Mandela's character will not permit it, which was first classified as a bug within the first game release, but was later released as a new special feature, making the gameplay even more realistic.

Mandela's health is represented by a circle on the lower left corner of the screen which will deteriorate if he exposes himself to the other prisoners for too long, or if he argues with the prison guards, therefore less chit-chat and more mission-based playing is encouraged. If Mandela's health turns red, then he will automatically be submitted to the hospital wing, where he will wait at least one hour for recovery. While recovering from disease or injury, Mandela has the opportunity to write a letter or read a book, however the opportunity to write a letter is only available twice throughout the whole game.

A new feature is introduced when players are required to work in the lime quarry in which they will get the opportunity to use labour tools. In order to control the pickaxe or chisel, players need to alternate between the Num 8 key and Num 2 key while turning the tools using the Num 7 key, before pressing the End key in order to chip away at pieces of rock (X, [], O, R2 and analog for Playstation users.) For each piece of lime that is discovered, players will get one extra minute of time added to their quarry time in order to mine for more lime.


Only the authorities and white people are allowed to use this.

The use of letters has been expanded and instead of only being able to write one letter after six months, like in the previous version, Mandela is now able to write two letters at certain, vital points during the game. Communication is only possible with one specific person on both these occasions; however it plays a significant part in completing specific missions needed for the completion of the game.

A failed mission can occur if a letter is not delivered, which is caused by player indiscretion as a result of openly and blatantly writing letters, enabling authorities to see the content, causing Mandela to be sent back to his prison cell where he will have to redo the mission. In order to prevent indiscretion, players need to tap the Backspace key repeatedly while writing the letter using their right mouse button and holding the ctrl and H keys simultaneously (X, O, select and analog for Playstation users.)

Speaking to other prisoners or prison guards is now possible, by walking up to either and pressing the Y key (Or X control for Playstation users), however performing this action on prison guards may anger them and they might choose to randomly beat Mandela up causing his health to flash red. Speaking to other prisoners for extensive periods of time may expose Mandela to illnesses which will also affect his health. The game includes many different illnesses which will show up within the health circle, depending on which one is contracted.

The only other communicative device is the old telephone in the waiting room, however it was designed as a prop within the game and cannot be used at all by black prisoners, but it does play an important part in cut-scenes, as it is used by certain authoritative figures and white prisoners throughout the game within the storyline.


A warm welcome board keeps players intrigued as to what might happen next...


Bland Gift Manual, Prison City follows the story of Nelson Mandela, a South African Politician and soon to be prisoner who, After sabotaging military and government targets and fighting apartheid, is arrested after being in hiding in a South African town called Rivonia for seventeen months.

After his arrival, Mandela is not at all surprised to learn that even prisoners are separated by race and he is forced to deal with the unfair fact that while white people get to choose between beef or chicken, he only gets to choose between bread and porridge. No one is able to help Mandela and he begins his long walk to freedom alone.

In his first mission, Mandela is required to call a prison guard and attempt an escape in desperation after being kept locked up inside his prison cell for far too long. While attempting the escape, he is inevitably caught by a prison guard and then manhandled into an injured state which causes his hospitalization.

During his hospitalization, Mandela has the opportunity to write and send a letter in which he discloses secret plans, which he then mails to an unidentified man, however before the letter is delivered, it accidentally ends up on a cargo ship to London without him ever knowing or finding out and he is then led back into his prison cell where he waits and completes a waiting mission in which he is required to wait for the next mission.

After completing the shower mission in which a player prevents the soap bar from slipping out of Mandela's hands by repeatedly bashing the enter key as hard as possible for a long time (R2 button for Playstation users), the game takes a sudden turn after Mandela is led out the bathroom by prison guards. At first it appears almost as though he is being led back to his prison cell, but instead he is lead to a lime quarry, where he is required to perform hard labor using basic primitive tools such as a pickaxe and a chisel.

A screenshot of the lime quarry where exciting missions such as mining can be completed.

Another mission is later introduced when Mandela finally gets the chance to write another letter after another hospitalization. He successfully manages to get his secret plan delivered to the same unidentified man to whom he wrote previously and the man is then revealed to be a Canadian, secret agent by the name of Gordon Winter, who develops a plot to rescue Mandela from prison.

Mandela waits eagerly for the plan to fall through, and completes several other missions in between, such as working in the lime quarry again, making lighters, peeling potatoes for the white prisoners to eat and exercising.


In a surprise twist, it is discovered that the plot to rescue Mandela from prison was infiltrated by Gordon Winter on behalf of South African intelligence, who wanted Mandela to escape so they could shoot him during recapture. The plot, however, was foiled by British Intelligence and Mandela remains imprisoned where as punishment for his attempts, he is forced to choose between two tasks. The player gets to make the choice which could lead to two possible outcomes all depending on which of the two choices is made; have Mandela's courtyard privileges taken away or make him serve time in a padded cell.

If a player chooses to have Mandela's courtyard privileges taken away, Mandela will end up waiting in his original cell where he will complete a mission in which he is required to move his head from side to side in order to catch a decent glimps of the sky outside through his prison window, before finally being released from prison where he gets to take a ferry to Cloak Town (a South African town based on Cape Town), where the game will end in his freedom and a touching speech given to his political supporters.

If a player chooses to have Mandela locked up in a padded cell, Mandela will spend some time in complete darkness, before finally being led by guards to the courtyard, where he will be able to enjoy his courtyard privileges by completing a mission in which he is required to run around the courtyard a few times, before finally being released from prison where he will be able to take a ferry to Cloak Town, ending the game in his complete freedom and a touching speech given to his political supporters.

External links[edit]

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