The Anguish and Excitement of Using Games to Relive Your School Years

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George Pigula can’tGet a prom date. The prom date can be found within 24 hours of the dance. Sims 4 High School YearsLead producer is going through one of the most painful experiences a teenager could have: rejection, rejection and rejection.

Pigula’s plight is self-inflicted, as both an architect and player, but he’s hardly alone as an adult clamoring to be a kid again. “Teenage years are very important,” Pigula said during a press demo for the Expanding pack. “They’re formative. It’s a time to find friends and figure out relationships. You have the opportunity to navigate through these challenges, the joys of young love, whether it’s a blissful crush stage, the proposal, or the difficulties of a breakup.”

Video games are long-standing staples that feature school settings. Teen experienceChoose to Murder and mayhemBalance vigilantism with Do your homework. Adolescence is a crucial time when people learn who they are, but it’s also rife with heartbreak, embarrassment, loneliness, and scores of other triumphs and traumas. And the genre that’s sprung up around it is thriving. Additionally, High School Years, which drops July 28, there’s Persona 5 Royal’s impending Nintendo Switch release and brand-new titles like Necrosoft Games’ recently announced Demonschool.

Necrosoft’s approach, though, has a far more mature tone than that in Sims. Demonschool pulls influences from Italian horror cinema Atlus’ Shin Megami Tensei and Persona series. The game is set in a place with two key locations: a college and a prison. The last chance for students is at this school, which will either allow them to graduate or end up in prison. Faye, the game’s heroine, is the last in a long line of demon hunters. One small caveat—no one’s seen demons for hundreds of years. They’re myths, until suddenly they’re not.

Many people find school settings appealing. Demonschool director Brandon Sheffield tells WIRED, because “for a lot of people it represents a time of freedom—intellectual freedom, where you are not constrained by certain social ideas, you’re not stuck on a job path yet. There’s a lot of hope and possibility in front of you.”

Demonschool’s more mature setting also put the characters into different scenarios than their high schooling Sims counterparts. “We particularly chose the university because you’ve got characters that can become friends or have romance relationships,” Sheffield says. Sometimes games like PersonaIf you’re underage, it is possible to get involved in relationships with adults. “That’s always kind of made me feel a little weird about all the high school things where you can romance each other,” he says. With Demonschool, Sheffield says, it was important that everyone be “of consenting age.”

This is not to say that these re-creations aspire to be like youth. In DemonschoolThe anxiety of growing up is often matched by actual horror scenarios. Faye and her friends investigate demon appearances, while Faye and her classmates write essays or do math homework. The game works on a calendar. Each day has a specific event and a weekly structure. It’s a more constrained version of games like PersonaOr YakuzaSheffield mentions that it was influenced by the film. He enjoyed watching series like PersonaOr Shin Megami TenseiFrom which you can access the PersonaTo persuade demons into joining your party, you can use negotiation to get them to split off series. “There’s some push and pull there, rather than just a faceless mass of evil that you have to destroy,” he says.

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