Why are there so many "School" settings?

I’ve noticed that both in Anime and in Choice Script games there are a huge number of games set in a “School” type setting. schools for necromancer’s schools for superheroes, schools for supervillains, schools for normal people but the protagonist happens to be some sort of weirdo. This makes sense in Anime because high school is considered the last time in your life as a Japanese citizen when you’re open to social experimentation and finding your place in life. After that you’re supposed to get a job and work it until you die. Possibly raising a family along the way. At least that’s the way I’ve had it explained to me. The same isn’t really true for western countries though, so the answer isn’t so obvious.

Since variety is the spice of life, and fiction is one of the safest ways of providing that variety it makes me wonder, why are school settings seemingly so popular in choice script games? Is it nostalgia? Is it that there just happen to be a lot of teens on this site writing what they know but with a twist? I feel like I’m missing something.


I’m working on yet another Medieval European fantasy, but still going on low-profile mode 。‿。


@Shoelip, well I’m in my 40s so definitely not “a teen writing what I know” but let’s face it; school settings offer lots of pros.

  1. Natural way to introduce cast of supporting characters
  2. Built-in mentor characters (profs/dean)
  3. Readers can relate to school experience, even if it’s weird (wizards, superheroes, etc)
  4. Provides natural progression for sequels as characters advance from year to year
  5. Classroom settings provide mix of academics and adventure, and grades are natural compliment for “achievements”
  6. Easy way to introduce an antagonist/bully (we can probably all relate to this!)

Okay, there are probably dozens more, but these come to mind first.


Blame harry potter, twilight, modern cartoons and anime. Personaly, I like this tho. It’s easy to read, and it feels diffrent playing as hero, mage monster or villian. I still waiting for monsters of, high heaven, keeper of moon and sun, academy arcana, community colegue or s.c.a.r.


I think school settings are easier to setup than a “nation,” or maybe an "empire."
It’s like an all-in-one, versatile, multi-purpose pack of settings.


Yes, I agree. And it’s usually more intimate than a nation/empire setting. I think it better supports a character-driven story, as opposed to huge sprawling empire type of epics…not that you can’t still focus on characters in that type of setting, but I think sometimes the “grandness” takes away from the little day-to-day interactions.


It’s true. It’s always about grades, girlfriends, and saving the world :smile:


You missed one!

  1. Provides a natural introduction to a setting’s unique twists on magic or advanced technology.

After all, if an MC already knows how magictech works, it will be hard to set up a situation where they have reason to explain it to the player without a boring “infodump.” If an MC doesn’t yet know, the player can learn alongside their MC. Other characters will have reason to explain, and the MC will have reason to ask!


What? You can have all three of them?

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Yes that is a BIG one! (Although I still managed to start with a huge infodump in CCH1 :expressionless:)

hides brainstorming document about a Chalet-School-style boarding-school

School stories are great for coming-of-age storylines, which are perennially popular in books about children and teenagers. Characters are working out who they are, who they want to be, and how to bridge the gap between those two points.

It’s also a fun way of demonstrating and engaging with the social mores of a setting. The PC is put into a very clear position of choosing how they relate to the school’s values, and how they’re going to try to align with or rebel against them.

Also, especially in boarding-school/university settings, you’re stuffing lots of young characters without much life experience our perspective into a high pressure, rarefied environment with potential for a lot of social politics and clawing for status. Bad decisions with exciting consequences are just asking to be made!


If you haven’t noticed a lot of us here are anime fans so the school setting is more natural to us then our own home.

Also because it lets the authors write their mc in a time where they are experiencing a lot of emotion and change and also allmost everyone here has been to highschool so it allows for them to connect with the mc more

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Really I think honestly at least the western perspective for my own life experience the mid-20s how the mid to late 20s are the insane part of what am I doing with my life portion and how am I going to conform to society if I’m going to conform to society. Then you have all this nasty adults responsibilities like bills and rent and relationships. Maybe you’re working a job that sucks maybe you’re flirting with going back in the military so can get that phd always wanted but your president both acts like a fried potato. Finding out who you are never ends and God knows it being a teenager in high school is the best the tippy tippy being. Also I noticed on the forum age ranges from people like my age in their mid to late 20s the summer in their late 30s early 40s to straight Younghans that are still Fessional high school. So high school understand all they know.

I was flirting with the idea of making game in medieval university. At the age range can be massive you could have students is all their 40s to law students that are 15 or 16 years old. The law students particularly Where Proto Bros. They were teenagers that had manservant and partied really hard we’re not being able to be touched by secular law.

Make a wonderful telling of age story through the perspective of the early modern European guild system.


ready to look at your pitch after Blood Money is finished :stuck_out_tongue:


I like school setting. And it’s kinda nostalgia for me and kinda imagining how different it could be. Now don’t misunderstand me I’m not imaginining how it would be if I would be a vampire, superhero or whatever that isn’t the part what’s interesting for me its just about the choices I made. Also who doesn’t like to feel younger?
Of course I’m open to other settings actually I would quite annoyed if there were no other settings than school setting is also a good way for escaping I thing. When I feel overwhelmed with the “adult world” I actually appreciate school setting.


The school I work at has almost no vampires or superheroes, and I seldom stumble upon hidden crypts in the basement with runes I need to translate, thus fending off disaster for the next 333 years. I am never called upon to provide just the right incantation from my collection of dusty incunabula.

I feel like I’m doing it all wrong.


Whatever are you lot teaching the youngsters these days. (;

Of course there are the well-known modern school settings, a lot of which are aimed at YA anyway (and school is quite typically an enormous part of the YA experience in modern times, depending on situation and location of course, so that might be part of it? it’d be stranger if a great number of YA books didn’t feature school).

What fascinates me, though, is how enduringly popular school series have been, including the ones written fifty, a hundred, and even a hundred and fifty years ago. The earliest in English seem to have started appearing more or less when YA (then ‘children’s’) adventure stories came into being as a genre, roughly around Stevenson’s time and the like. That also seems to be about when school was becoming just a common feature of life, particularly for the growing middle class’s children.

The fifty-year-old school series even make jokes about the hundred-year-old school series. Schools, orphans (also a perennial favourite), and either moral tales or magic have been the bread and butter of YA for such a long time.

Sometimes I think nearly every YA seems to have written at least one ‘school’ story of one sort or another, from Dinah Mulock Craik (1850s) to Diana Wynne Jones (a more recent author, of Howl’s Moving Castle and Chrestomancy fame). There are even all sorts of articles, whimsical or more studious, on the subject.

I wonder if governess/tutor stories sort of count as a school setting, depending on the era?


Going to school 2.0, this time I’m only going to say cool things and nothing embarrassing will happen. Also I have psychic powers.


The Salaryman system in Japan is gradually breaking down too, probably won’t be long till we see that reflected in anime.
But for more and more Japanese (men) there’s no from first day till retirement job guarantees anymore.
Not in education or employment training (neet) is becoming more and more common in Japan too, as more young people cannot find jobs that match whatever skills they have as is the rise of the working poor and crappy, insecure “flexible” jobs.
Then again with a gentleman like Abe and the extreme right-wing in power it shouldn’t come as a particularly great surprise.

There is that too and I get the feeling that in anime at least a modern-esque school setting is often chosen because it neatly avoids much of the work involved in building grand fantasy, sci-fi or alternate history worlds. Personally I tend to like world building and some of my favourites, like XoR, “the Myrmidon” and “Seven Heirs of Ophaesia” devote a lot of time and effort to building custom worlds with their own, unique lore. However not everybody likes that sort of thing and not every story needs it either.
I’d say “Totem Force” comes closest to those Japanese works here and imho it proves that you can certainly craft an enjoyable story without going to Vancian heights of world building. Though that same author’s second work does feature a lot more world-building and a nice and unique, although very much darker setting.
Together with works like “Waywalkers” and “Keeper of the Sun and Moon” it provides proof that there is room for Vancian heights of world-building even in (magical) school games.
Lastly of course you have period games like Vendetta and “Tin Star” where the game-world hooks in to a modified version of real-world history. Though I guess to pull that off requires a whole lot of research, unless you’re already an expert on the period writing what you know.

True on the opposite end a nursery home interactive comedy might be nice too every once in a while, as are the stories of old heroes going out in a blaze of glory in one last adventure.

Rather you than me, I always hated the academic (moronic systems for footnotes and reputability of sources rules that make discovery and rules of evidence seem logical and straightforward) writing and you need to do a lot of that in order to obtain a PhD. :unamused:

You can have that in some modern universities too, I got my masters at one of those and I liked the added diversity much better than our exclusively youth and fraternity focused “prestigious” universities.
Even at the prestigious universities courses like philosophy and some of the history ones do much better in having a diverse age range of students, as do many technical ones due to people who can afford it re-training for a second career.


I’ve often heard that the reason so many animes star a younger adult and/or teenage protagonist is in part to show the youth of Japan (and indeed all viewers, really) that anyone can achieve greatness, anyone can save the day. It’s easy to picture how a rich CEO would take on the bad guys, but what about a random girl struggling through her studies or the quiet boy in the back of the class?

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