Video games about universities and academic life
October 21, 2014 7:17 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for example of digital or video games - either online, free, commercial, or bought from a shop, on a PC, mac or games console - which simulate the experience of being a student, academic, lecturer or professor from an academic, social, or economic perspective. For example, the Sims 3 University Life expansion pack gives a (relatively shallow) social perspective on academic life as a student. Are there any others, especially ones with more depth or accuracy?
posted by Wordshore to Education (10 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Bully comes to mind.
posted by sewellcm at 7:27 AM on October 21, 2014

Not realistic, but the persona games do half-take place in a Japanese high school and the amount of time you spend studying and joining clubs does affect the game. Then you go asleep and fight demons, but you know.
posted by dinty_moore at 7:36 AM on October 21, 2014

Response by poster: I forgot to mention another example to showcase the diversity of academia-simulators, namely Particle Clicker, as detailed in, and linked from, this FPP. Also interested in digital games or simulations which are not necessarily serious, or are only partially concerning academia.
posted by Wordshore at 7:37 AM on October 21, 2014

Violet is a text- based puzzle game where you have to find a way to force your character to overcome her writer's block and make progress on her dissertation before her partner leaves her and she loses her US visa. Equal parts hilarious and heartbreaking. (Especially because the person the character was based on was in my online PhD support group and the game was written by her boyfriend!)
posted by lollusc at 7:52 AM on October 21, 2014 [5 favorites]

Gray Matter is a point and click adventure game set in and around Oxford University and featuring a cast of undergraduates. I have no idea how accurate it's depiction of student life at Oxford is, however.
posted by dortmunder at 8:04 AM on October 21, 2014

It's not exactly a video game, but if you're counting stuff like Particle Clicker, then arXiv vs snarXiv certainly touches on academia (in a very tongue in cheek manner). The creator is a particle physicist friend of mine, and I think also a Mefite.
posted by Diagonalize at 8:09 AM on October 21, 2014

This is a self-link, but about 20 years ago (!) I wrote a text adventure game called Save Princeton, which portrayed a very exaggerated, slapsticky version of life as an undergraduate. You will need to download a TADS-compatible interpreter to play the game -- if you are on a Mac, I would recommend Spatterlight.

It was part of a trend of university-based text adventure games of the time. Previous examples included A Dudley Dilemma (1989,set at Harvard) and Ditch Day Drifter (1990, set at Caltech.) Of these, Ditch Day Drifter was probably the closest to real life, since it portrayed Caltech's "Ditch Day," which is basically a big real-world adventure game.

There was also Infocom's The Lurking Horror, set at the fictional GUE Tech, which was closely modeled on MIT. As I remember it, despite the university setting, the undergraduate experience was not a particularly significant part of the game-- it starts off with a quest to recover a deleted term paper, but it quickly veers off into horror territory.
posted by yankeefog at 8:53 AM on October 21, 2014 [4 favorites]

(Oh, and just to be clear -- I wrote Save Princeton, but I had nothing to do with any of the other examples I mentioned.)
posted by yankeefog at 9:10 AM on October 21, 2014

Virtual U is (was?) a game based on running a university. I remember playing it around 2003 -- it was very SimCity-ish.
posted by the dief at 1:02 PM on October 21, 2014

Academagia is basically a Hogwarts simulator. You attend class, study, explore the campus, explore the neighboring city, join clubs, cultivate a posse, suck up to the enigmatic headmaster (or any other professor), pull pranks, investigate mysterious goings-on, and maybe unearth and exploit the secrets of dark magic.

Any given atom of gameplay is a window with a snatch of story and a menu of possible responses. Each response initiates a stats check against one or more of about 250 subskills, further modified by any friends who might be present, any passive spells you might have cast, and the condition of the stars.

On top of this, there's a body of 83 other students, each with a distinct personality and dynamic opinions of their 82 classmates, each capable of befriending or antagonizing you on their own initiative. There's a robust magic system, adjoining a robust academic system which tracks your prowess across the various subdomains within rhetoric, grammar, biology, arithmetic, history, the dialectic, etc. The grading system is distinct from your actual abilities; you can get an unrepresentative score on a midterm depending on your mood and health.

It's too much. It's entirely too much, there's not nearly enough guidance, and too often you'll find that the composure subskill you've ground upward for three in-game weeks is useless for the task at hand; you should have leveled confidence instead.

But as a feat of stats, and for intricacy as an academics simulator, Academagia is unlikely to be surpassed for some time. Even the creators have abandoned their plans to release a Year Two.
posted by Iridic at 9:02 AM on October 22, 2014 [2 favorites]

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