Why are "School" stories so popular?

watermark

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If you look at some of the best sellers for young adults across mediums, the school theme dominates.

Best selling YA novel: Harry Potter. Kid goes to magic school.
... and Divergent, Ender's Game, Lightning Thief (well, camp, but it's basically the same thing).
Best selling anime: Naruto. Kid goes to ninja school.
Best selling game: Uh, actually I want to ask about this one. Are there popular games based on school that first started as a game and NOT from a novel? (like Harry Potter or Naruto games don't count.)

Why is this genre popular?

Know any games that are in this genre?
 

Willibab

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Its highly relatable, most people either look back at their school time with fondness or think about what they could do better.

I sometimes think back and wonder what i could do with the knowledge and confidence i have now
 

fluffymonster

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I don't really consider "School" a genre, but a place to be. Why it's popular in certain mediums is that it gives a familiar place (most can relate to going to school) and also gives an excuse for a wide cast of characters who would normally never be found in the same place to be together. It also gives a common goal that's pretty easy to come to and to understand. "I want to get a good grade" by someone who's studious. "I want be the best" by someone who's a fan of the trade.
 

Clyve

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I don't really consider "School" a genre, but a place to be. Why it's popular in certain mediums is that it gives a familiar place (most can relate to going to school) and also gives an excuse for a wide cast of characters who would normally never be found in the same place to be together. It also gives a common goal that's pretty easy to come to and to understand. "I want to get a good grade" by someone who's studious. "I want be the best" by someone who's a fan of the trade.
Unless you go to school in Persona. Then your goal becomes "don't get murdered by demons."
 

fluffymonster

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Unless you go to school in Persona. Then your goal becomes "don't get murdered by demons."
I mean, totes can relate. :kaocry: Frank wouldn't leave me alone in High School.
 

Kupotepo

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@watermark, please do not take offense. Many of us go to school(s), not the magical school per-say.

I think it used the school as the setting, but it is not about the school.

Know any games that are in this genre?
:LZSsmile:You know the answer.......the adult materials excuse. Look in the stream games. They are common as the food in the supermarket.

If you look at some of the best sellers for young adults across mediums, the school theme dominates.
Targeting Audience

Best selling YA novel: Harry Potter. Kid goes to magic school.
... and Divergent, Ender's Game, Lightning Thief (well, camp, but it's basically the same thing).
Best selling anime: Naruto. Kid goes to ninja school.
Again I think you are trying to find a correlation. I like to do that too. I don't it is about the setting. Both of novels and anime are great not because of setting only, but because of the characters and plots are well done.

I am not trying be mean. I just want to be clear.:kaoblush:

Harry Potter : It is true that the setting is at school, but it is about magic and Harry Potter.
Divergent: It is only school setting for testing, but the rest is about fighting.
Ender's Game: It is about Ender's life which he happens to attend school.
Lightning Thief: The main character attend because he is a teenage, but the story focus on the main character's adventure and catch Lightning Thief
Naruto: The main character is youth, so he attends the school. But the story focus on Naruto and ninja fighting.
 
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SmashArtist

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Honestly I make (and don't finish) a bunch of stories that have something related to school, but I don't tend to make any games with them.

Here's my personal reason why I use schools often in my stories:
  • Schools let you have an excuse to have a group of people together when otherwise they wouldn't want to be around each other
  • Schools make it so that you can have a lot of characters around the same age
  • As Willibab said, many people can relate to school
I don't use schools in the majority of my games because:
  • It makes for too many characters and NPCs to worry about. Most of the time games are focused around a small party.
These are just my own personal reasons, and they don't always make a big difference. If I wanted to I could definitely make a game based around a school that focuses just on a small party.
 

RachelCantFocus

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Doki Doki literature club takes place in a school.
And I feel like it's so popular because people in school tend to have more time on their hands and consume a large amount of media. they like the stuff they can relate to. also, schooling is big part of people's lives usually 10+ years.
 

slimmmeiske2

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I wouldn't call Naruto a "School" story. Yes, he's at school in the first episode, but also graduates from that school in the first (or second) episode. The rest of the series is just Naruto climbing the ladder of the Ninja class. Not to say, school stories aren't popular in anime. They obviously are (My hero Academia for example), just that Naruto isn't a great example.

Games that take place in school settings are really popular in the Visual Novel genre and/or in the horror genre I've noticed.
 

HumanNinjaToo

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I think it's just an easy place to begin a modern-ish game in which adolescents are the protagonists. It's really not any different than the almighty tavern beginnings for D&D type games to begin, or the bedroom spawn zone for your quintessential normal-guy/gal-turned-hero to begin their own journey.
 

Failivrin

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I agree with @RachelCantFocus . In modern societies, it's pretty much mandatory to spend most of your young life in school. And school is tremendously boring, especially compared to the adventures kids used to have. I'm thinking for example about my home in Thailand, where kids used to hunt in the jungle, bathe in rivers, and learn useful crafts and skills. Now they mostly just sit through lectures. School stories, especially fantasy, are attractive because they show the way schools should be--full of adventure and wonder, having an organic sense of community, and providing opportunities for natural skill development.
 

TheoAllen

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Everyone has already said the point, so I'll just respond with a slight joke.

You read the story involves around school because it's relatable and maybe you wish your school was like in the story (with magic and wonderful friends) and you can relax and enjoy the story. But when you play a game, you want to escape from reality and don't want the game to remind you of school. You want to slay demon lord or feeling awesome. Granted, the school setting is still possible but the game will be everything but school. Except when the game is a school simulation, that's a different story.
 

CraneSoft

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Personally, I loathe school stories as it's getting over-saturated to the point I'll be pleased just to see a game or a novel WITHOUT one.

With that said, school is just a setting, that happens to be most convenient place for characters to develop (naughty) relationships, interact with each other, learning life lessons/skills/abilities whatever, and most importantly, the easiest place to write a story with interesting, albeit cliche events (school festivals, sports competitions, all sorts of club activities, or just simply hobbies, you name it). The same can't be said for, let's say, the adult working society or the military, not unless the author did a LOT of research into that one specific subject, and even then that's not much story you can make of a salaryman doing their jobs...so yeah, people aren't interested to read a story that's as dull as real life, thus the one place where everyone can relate to, or wished they could be a part of and simply have fun with, would naturally be the school.
 

Kupotepo

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@Failivrin, I would like you know and I am not attack you. Maybe might not know, I said most because some countries right now have civil wars. I do think it is safe right now to go to schools, sadly. Do not look at Yemen, Venezuela, and Congo. I understand when I live in Thailand there is not many world news sadly. I would like to let you know the world is really brave new world that many of Thais people didn't get chance to discover.
 

standardplayer

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I think it's because compared to the rest of life (yes, there are exceptions to what I'm about to say) school was actually kind of awesome. Even though almost no one thinks so at the time....
-You gather multiple days a week with almost everyone your age in the general vicinity of where you live
-Unless you have a really hard time making friends, your friends will be there whenever you are
-Barring a few mostly illegal situations, almost everyone your age in the general vicinity of where you live that fits the basic qualifications as 'date-able' will be there whenever you are
-Most of your decisions are made for you. You're told where to go, what to do, how, why and when. There is a lot of comfort in familiarity for the average person, even if they get sick of it.
-It's something that happens when we're growing a lot and forming ourselves mentally. As such, any simulation of it gives you a chance to re-live, 'do-over' or otherwise reproduce a small amount of that experience, without real life consequences

Yeah, not many people love school when they go there, and of course I'm speaking about school in major developed countries, I understand this experience can vary wildly. But the school settings in games (that I think you are referring to) are more like those, anyway.
 

h0tWalker

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Most people have already mentioned a lot of stuff, not read every single comment. I like it in general due to the nature of the approach and the development of it, just to create a list, where some points might already been mentioned
  • It introduces you to your characters in a easy way, allowing for a natural introduction, rather than finding a plot point to connect the characters
  • You connect people who otherwise wouldn't be associated (ie. a noble and a commoner)
  • Due to mostly remaining in school, you get more time to focus on the story, than the world itself
  • Most people feel nostalgic looking back, and often miss the more carefree days, I remember Clannad, K-on and some other school animes. Its a bit more carefree and focuses on the playful side, yet, also has that hint of reality, making it more relatable.
  • Its actually not about the subjects, or school, but the life as a student. Yes, it feels plain and kinda obvious to say, but its about the fun, the sad, drama and development. Thats why you see study sessions, sleep overs, field trips, etc.
I think a lot more can be said, but ultimately, its probably gonna depend rather on which way you wanna approach it. You of-course have classic movies like Harry Potter, visual novels like Clannad and Little Busters, games like Persona, Trails of Cold Steel, etc. They all paint a different world, setting and genre. The thing that ties it all together, is the characters, as we experience the world through them, and the cast around them. The common theme is that these all start during your first year at said school. It's an easy and natural way to introduce the cast. You have conflicts at the start that takes shape and gets developed during the story to add spice, which gets us invested. Adding new cast is pretty easy and requires no explanation rather than "transfer student". New characters helps make the story feel refreshing and offer more (ie. Luna Lovegoood from Harry Potter & Millium from Trails of Cold Steel).

Gonna stop myself there and hope I haven't gone too much off topic or changed things around. I do have tendencies... Its just overall an easy start up kit that doesn't require much as it really relies on nostalgia and have most things already explained for you as you implement things :)
 

gstv87

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Are there popular games based on school that first started as a game and NOT from a novel?
timidly raises hand
.............................................................................. Yandere Simulator?
 

FirestormNeos

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I wouldn't qualify "school" as a genre, but rather a setting; one that's borderline-omnipresent in anime/anime-adacent media and usually associated with the "Slice of Life" genre.

Personally, I don't care for school settings. When I was younger, it was because I valued escapism over relatability in my stories (still kinda do, but only in terms of a story's setting). Now that I'm older and have graduated high school, I like the setting even less now because it reminds me of high school and how I barely graduated it and because a lot of the people my age who seem to enjoy "school/academy" settings are massive ****ing creeps about it.
timidly raises hand
.............................................................................. Yandere Simulator?
Isn't that game not out yet?
 

Tai_MT

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Several reasons:

1. When you're writing about young adults or children... school is about a third of their daily activities. Hard to have anything about them just utilizing the 6 hours they get between school and bedtime.

2. School is instantly and easily relatable to anyone fresh out of school or currently attending. You don't have to describe the setting or "flesh out the world". You need only show the student is in the school and you already know everything involved with that (even Harry Potter's magic school works similarly to Private Boarding Schools in the UK or Public Boarding Houses).

3. School romance is more easily relatable to young adults as its primarily fueled by emotions and puberty and lust. It is far easier to write this form of romance than it is to write a romance for mature adults, which often involves a ton of subtlety and is much harder for adults to relate to since everyone inevitably develops their own definition of what "love" is to them. As such, love is "easier to write" in the example of a "school setting", since it tends to hold no further consequences than basic misunderstandings.

4. Pure wish fulfillment. Most of the people playing or reading these things generally think of themselves as "the outcast". They want to put themselves in the shoes of the hero and be the center of attention like in these books. They want to be the most popular at school. They want to have all the friends.
---
Finally, I just wanted to touch on "Ender's Game". As the story that propelled me into writing (as well as reading voraciously), it's a little weird to me to have it characterized as "it's a school setting". It's actually "a military setting". Yes, it takes place as "The Battle School", but it is a military facility with military rules that are even enforced. The hierarchy of a command structure even exists there. The "schooling" isn't even related to what they are doing there, since every student is actually insanely intelligent to begin with. It's more of an "officer's school" since they're looking to train leaders and nothing except leaders.
 

watermark

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@Tai_MT Well...Battle school is like say...West Point. It's military, but still mainly a place of learning. And not to spoil the ending, but you notice the teachers go to great lengths to emphasize that the students are just doing "exercises" and "simulations" so as to prepare them for the "real" battle. Also they really made it look like a school in the movie with the digital classroom settings and all. So that's why I see it as a school, even if it is for genius psychopaths. :p

From the replies we can see a lot of the popular school stories are actually about cool alternate versions of schools. Instead of learning about math or chemistry, students learn about magic, ninjutsu, or war tactics. It's what we wish schools could've been, mixed with stuff we liked about schools, like the clubs, dating, and festivals.
 

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