I'm extremely intrigued bySubaltern's magic school management game No Pineapple Left Behind [official site]. The more I look, the more it seems like its superficially wwwwwacky and zzzzzany concept of 'what if you could turn kids into pineapples to make them easier students?' is there to guide people into what might be both a biting and deep management game about the education system. There is fantasy, there are spells and there is the tyrannical oppression of a rebellious population, but it all relates to the minds and identities of children - are we looking at Dungeon Keeper with actual satire?
You know I love Dungeon Keeper, but 'haha nice people are dumb' wasn't exactly a voyage into the heart of darkness. Roleplaying as a school principal who can choose to stamp out pupils' individuality in pursuit of the almighty dollar just might be. For example, here's a look at how spells, such a mainstay of any fantasy game and used so guiltlessly on DK monsters, work in No Pineapple Left Behind:
Essentially, a spell is a lesson plan interpreted as instant magic. Cast one at the start of a class to educate your students, but your teacher needs enough energy to get away with it, otherwise the spell might backfire and have negative effects on your class. So a demoralised teacher might cast Televisor - sitting their students in front of the gogglebox for the duration of a lesson, with minimal risk of anyone over-exerting themselves.
What sounds breezy on the surface is pretty damned dark with any analysis. I'm looking forwards to/dreading trying this. While an open alpha of No Pineapple Left Behind is expected later this year, at a wild guess the full version will be out around a year before I send my currently two-year-old daughter to school, so I can then get myself into a right old state about that.