The episodic game Life is Strange, uses high schooler Max Caulfield’s ability to rewind time to comment on friendship and consequence and the fact that, hey, life is strange. The game reminds me of the everyman character in the story, the Gossip Girl Dans of the world, the Bilbo Baggins-es, who are meant to represent us as the audience. Life is strange, we all think.
Strange, too, is Max’s seniors-only boarding school Blackwell Academy, which players can explore, gossip in, and uncover secrets in as part of gameplay. But in addition to intentional weirdness, the fictional school suffers from an unfortunate developer oversight—it’s incredibly white-centric.
In a 2015 article for Vice, games journalist and writer Shonté Murray-Daniels describes how Life is Strange is “a fairly convincing game about high school life—unless you’re a student of color, in which case it completely ignores your experience.” Subtle racism like this, which is present in nearly all games (even the ones we really, really like) and in real world schools across the country, are unfortunate reminders that you can escape in games, for a time, but the reality they were made in will always eventually creep through.
What do you play school-set games for? Nostalgia, comfortingly familiar storylines, or just because? Tell me, in addition to some of your favorite school-set games, in the comments.