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Study buddy: Manage a school in Academia

Academia: School Simulator

Prison Architect’s artist, Ryan Sumo, is turning his attention to school sim life in early access study ’em up, Academia: School Simulator [official site]. Academia is a Squeaky Wheel project – that’s the studio Sumo co-founded and which made animal electioneering game, Political Animals. Here’s a peep at where the game’s currently at:

“Academia: School Simulator is a management game that lets you design, construct, and manage the high school of your dreams! As the school Principal, watch your students as they get bullied, find love, flunk exams, and basically just try to get through the roller-coaster ride that is high school.”

It sounds like that familiar management sim balancing act where you’re figuring out resource problems and making compromises so the whole thing doesn’t fall apart – cheap meals for kids versus healthy food is one example of a micromanagement choice, but there’s also the bigger picture where you balance your budget to give the best education you can. I’d be interested to see how “best education” is assessed as there’s plenty of scope for comment on how the education systems of various countries work and where they might be failing.

I had a giddy moment during the trailer where something about the blocky classrooms and organisation of desks catapulted me towards a recollection of my own school. It wasn’t a specific memory, more just a sudden sense of a school building – all functionality and shabby modularity as classrooms would need to shrug off their old identities to accommodate new people at regular intervals.

That’s more about my own response to particular architecture than knowing anything about how this specific game feels to play, but it was a curious thing. At the risk of sounding like I’m shading either my own school buildings or the game’s current look, I’m not sure I’d recognise a fundamental “school-iness” if it gets prettier as it moves through early access so I’m selfishly hoping it stays as it is!

Speaking of which, early access starts on 8 September on Steam. The devs are hoping to add a whole bunch of things for the full release – subject scheduling, truancy/delinquency/bullying to deal with, specialisation, and so on. But the full release is at least a year off (probably more) AND all of our usual early access caveats apply.

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Philippa Warr

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