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.


  1. vand says:

    I’m confused. So it’s Prison Architect 2?

  2. Michael Fogg says:

    It’s quite telling that the same engine can be used to simulate the total institutions of the compulsory education and prison systems

    • teije says:

      Um yes. How the typical education system has been designed for top-down coercion and control and against the educative interests of the (supposedly) client population makes for enlightening (and depressing) reading.

    • automatic says:

      Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison
      link to

    • Someoldguy says:

      Prison is a very effective school for allowing prisoners to learn new criminal skills, so it makes sense.

      • poliovaccine says:

        Yeah I dont know what people expect… oh you got caught selling drugs? Let’s give you a record to ensure that you struggle to get even so much as a menial job that pays in a week what you used to make in an hour and treat you like shit in the process, cus that’ll reeeeally endear you to the society you’ve already rejected!

        People have this punitive instinct about this stuff, so long as they’re talking about someone besides themselves that is, but the plain facts have always shown that positive reinforcement is infinitely more effective than negative reinforcement. In countries where prisons are fitted with cable and PS4’s and look more like dorm rooms than hellholes, there is markedly less recidivism and more post-incarceration employment.

        L. Frank Baum, who wrote the Oz books, clued onto it years ago. He wrote about the jails in the land of Oz being wonderful, gentle places of kindness and social rehabilitaton, with optional locks on the doors haha, because people were treated so sweetly they preferred to serve out their term haha. The whole reasoning was, “Well naturally – we wouldnt want to make them *bitter* about the experience! Why, that wouldnt help at all!”

        Haha what’s funny too is that that philosophy bears out pretty well in Prison Architect..!

    • runonce says:

      An old uncle of mine who is an architect used to design prisons and schools.

  3. Jozef Kundlak says:

    Now I am only waiting for a Hogwarts mod. Don’t tell me that will not happen!

  4. Stargazer86 says:

    I saw a small spatter of blood on the bathroom floor. It’s good to see public education never changes.

    • klops says:

      Among the first things (that I remember) we young and naive apparentice teachers were told when we started our teacher training was: “No contact to blood (because you might get hepatitis or something else, I assume)”

  5. ColonelFlanders says:

    Well Prison Architect is one of my favourite games of all time, so if this gets anywhere near as good I will be BUYING IT

  6. poliovaccine says:

    Ohhhh awesome! As both a fan of Prison Architect and a onetime victim of private boarding schools, this is immediately appealing. For reference, Bully gave me nostalgia tickles cus so much of it rang true, in its exaggerated way. And I always approached that educational experience like Steve McQueen in The Great Escape, so I mean, this game feels like it was algorithmically designed to please precisely *me*..!

  7. Josh W says:

    It’s a good idea someone is making this, although it is strange that the only part that is shared with prison architect (and shared relatively obviously) is it’s skin, possibly extending to it’s UI, not any of its logic or design. The book/cover proverb may apply here.