Team Fortress 2

Team Fortress 2

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What is Jailbreak? - Everything Explained
By Dom
A VIDEO guide to Jailbreak, the TF2 mod-gamemode. Jailbreak's a mod about simulated prison life on Team Fortress 2 servers.
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Note: This is the video's script.

Jailbreak is a popular Team fortress 2 mod-gamemode. It uses custom-made maps and requires a plugin to play.

Best estimates are: jailbreak originated from counter strike in late 2008. The basic game concept has since been ported over to many other moder-friendly multiplayer shooters. It started to catch on, or hit it’s stride in Team Fortress 2 as of May 2012. To date there are roughly 20 dedicated or part-time jailbreak servers for TF2.

So what is jailbreak?

Jailbreak is a social experiment-of-a-gamemode. Central to the experience is vocal communication. It’s so important to the experience, that some servers make it mandatory to have a microphone if a player wishes to play as a guard.

Jailbreak at its core is a louse simulation of a day in jail. One team plays as prison guards wile the other plays as prisoners. Every round is one-life-only and there are strict rules on what is and isn’t allowed.

Every round stars off with the prisoners locked up safely behind bars. The guards have a minute or so to elect a warden. The warden is normally the person who chooses to be a warden first. The job of the warden is to take the roll of the lead guard and give orders outclassing all else. They lead the prisoners to whatever task they wish to do for the round. Tasks such as minigames. Jailbreak maps have minigames. The point of minigames is to kill off the prisoners. They range from skill, luck to trivia and reflex based small challenges where the entire prisoner population tries to stay alive. Minigames aren’t necessary however. Prisoners can be killed for rebelling or not following orders. Since jailbreak is about being social, on-the-fly games with a set-in-stone set of mutually understandable rules like Simon-says can also be instituted instead. Once the cell doors are open, guards start off by giving a specific set of orders to the prisoners. These order vary but the main order give is the order of submission. Guards tell prisoners to stand idle, facing the back of their cells without touching their mouse or keyboards in their cells or on a yellow line. This task, the act of forceful submission sets the tone for the round. If completed successfully prisoners become more likely to follow orders and obey the warden. In team fortress 2, every gamemode can breaks down and devolves into both teams death matching. The impotents of this forceful act of submission can’t be understated.

The blue team, normally consists of 1/3rd the total number of players on the server. They play the roll of the prison guards. The blue team’s job is to pretend to be guards. They must keep the order and enforce the rules. Their goal in a round is to stay alive, punish rule breakers and kill all but one prisoner. Guards are typically more powerful then prisoners and have weapons at their disposal. Guards can’t simply kill prisoners. They require a reason, otherwise their action is seen as ‘freekilling.’ When this occurs they’re normally punished, if they freekill to a great degree with reasonably proven malicious or non-lawful intent they are normally voted to be banned from the server. The activities instituted in the round are what kill most of the prisoners. At the end of every round the warden must ask the last remaining prisoner what their last request is. A last request is typically a request to play a certain minigame the following round or to have a day free from orders (a free-day.) Last requests can be anything. As long as it’s reasonable and within the power of the guards to perform, they must comply.

The red team consists of the remainig players on the server. They play the role of the prisoners. The prisoners have freewill. They can rebel or they can follow orders. They start off in separate cells with no weapons besides their basic melee. In a rebellion they typically break into the armoury and retrieve weapons. Their goal is to either stay alive and obey orders for an entire round to get a last request or to rebel and kill of the guards.

As stated before, minigames play a big part of jailbreak. Minigames are small games (as obvious as that sound) that play out in certain areas of a jailbreak map. Usually the guards and prisoners are separated. The guards press buttons and trigger the function behind minigames wile the prisoners are subjected to the minigames. Some examples of minigames include: Wipeout – a reflex based game where prisoners jump over a moving platform in order to avoid death. Deathrun - a game where prisoners run an obstacle course with traps that are triggered by guards. And knife pit – a pit in the ground that the prisoners pile into as friendly fire is turned on.

Jailbreak is odd. There is no goal to the gamemode, per-say. It’s at its best when everyone is playing their part. Some rounds consists of chaos where both sides fail to uphold to the fantasy. These rounds aren’t fun. Some rounds, the guards will be precise, strict and deadly. These rounds require teamwork on the side of the prisoners in order to rebel. They typically play better and are more run for both sides.

There are psychological elements behind the allure of jailbreak, but it isn’t 100% obvious as to why jailbreak is fun. Perhaps prisoners like to cause mischief and break the rules. They like to start a rebellion and kill the guards. Basically trolling, is built-into the experience. It’s intended and worked into the gamemode is a central way. On the flip side, prisoners sometimes feel it more fun to play nice and follow orders. The prisoners can work alone towards the goal of getting the last request and playing their favourite minigame next round. The allure of playing a guard seems more reasonable. They’re in a position of authority. They have power and have to be followed. Another psychological aspect about Jailbreak that’s noteworthy is its addictive nature. People have spend alarmingly high spans of time playing jailbreak. There have been reported cases of upwards of 9 hours of active play in one sitting. Furthermore, people express signs of addiction and dependency. Some suffering a sort of withdrawal when their favourite servers experiences downtime for a long span of time.

And that’s basically Jailbeak in a nutshell. An extremely fun a-semetric oddball social emphasized mod-gamemode with strict rules. A cross between a roll playing game, a simulation and a ruler-follower complex.

Thanks for reading. Don't forget to like/fav if you did.
Other Notes
  • It's a good idea to familiarize yourself with the rules for the specific server you're on.
  • It's a good idea to familiarize yourself with the map you're on before playing as a guard.
  • Don't speak on the mic if you're young and have a high pitched voice to avoid getting harassed.
  • I removed a paragraph from the final cut in witch I explain that JB is addictive. Citing cases of people showing dependency and suffering withdrawal because I though it would be too dark. The game mode is literally addictively fun. Playing to much may be dangerous. Have fun.
Find a Server
To find a Jailbreak server: search by map name ba_. Ba stands for Battle Arena. A hold-over from the days of jailbreak in Counter-Strike.
More Mods
Want to learn about other mod-gamemodes? Visit my other video-guides!
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Brady Gunner Aug 7, 2017 @ 12:24pm 
Every jailbreak server is russian or polish
Noodle Jul 7, 2017 @ 12:40am 
i had no fucking idea what i was doing and i got banned
thanks for the help
allen the dumpster Apr 3, 2017 @ 6:43pm 
I had no fucking idea what jailbreak was or how it worked, and this helped.
AR-NewRecruit Jun 15, 2016 @ 8:50pm 
I wonder if someone could someone build an entire game around this concept and test it as a psycholigcal synapsis on understanding the human psycoholgy

- predict who will be leaders?
- predict who will be followers?
- predict who will be rebels?
- predict who will be power hungry psychos?
- predict who will be insane?
- predict who will be dumbass 12 year olds that free kill? (ok this one is a joke :P)

This has such great potential of understanding the human mind, and its all in a game instead of studying an actual prison!
MAJIMA GORO Jun 8, 2016 @ 3:48am 
Just strated my first Jailbreak game: Russians, Kids, English offensive comments in the chat, lag, Mike spamming.
Well I got scared and already left
-(TTP)- Demo May 10, 2016 @ 5:34pm 
^ How's the future?

< God damn Wardens and Guards are insane!

V Very few.

crowbar fight club Mar 18, 2016 @ 3:14pm 
Some jailbreak servers are 11 year old idiots.
Some are 24 year old idiots.
And some are actually fun.
Jesse Stinkman Mar 9, 2016 @ 4:14pm 
Some servers are purposely making it fun for Wardens.
Some servers have removed Demoman, and Spy.
Some even gave Wardens full crits, making rebels nearly impossible!
kid with polio Aug 8, 2015 @ 2:13pm 
All the jailbreak servers just have stupid 12 year olds as the warden/guards all the time that kill you for no reason after you follow their orders.
★Major Pootis Steeljaw☆❤ Jan 9, 2015 @ 1:06am 
do a guide about What is War3source Jailbreak