Regarding School Life Theme

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Shad12ow
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Regarding School Life Theme

#1 Post by Shad12ow » Wed Feb 20, 2013 11:06 pm

Hello there. I have a few questions that I hope all of you could enlighten me.
1. Is it true that is is an overused theme? I mean I do play some VN, but not a lot. But, yeah, I see a lot of them revolved around school life. But is it to the point of being overused?
2. I'm a bit unclear on this "School Life" theme right now. Is it a theme that revolved around the protagonist school days? Or is it any kind of VN with a school as its setting?
3. What do you think about this theme? Do you like it?
I want to know your opinion on this one. Well, thank you all for reading it. :mrgreen:

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Re: Regarding School Life Theme

#2 Post by inhalance » Wed Feb 20, 2013 11:13 pm

1) I'm not sure if it's exactly "overused", but it is a common theme, that's for sure. ^^

2) In my own words, a "school life" theme is generally a theme set within school walls, and the majority of the plot/story is centered around events, characters, and places dealing with the school. For example, games such as Starry Sky series mostly deal with school occurrences (annual school trip, classroom events, school activities, etc.), since the majority of the plot takes place at the boarding school they are in.

3) I'm not as peevish about school themes as others are. I guess it all depends on preference. I'm totally fine with school settings, especially since I'm still in school right now. It gives me something to relate to :)
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Re: Regarding School Life Theme

#3 Post by Kato » Wed Feb 20, 2013 11:30 pm

It's a very heavily used theme but it depends on the individual whether it is 'over' used. In Japan VNs make up a large portion of the game market so it makes sense that they try make a connection, setting wise, to whom they are targeting the game towards. You'll notice a lot of romance based anime is school themed too.

Personally, I still enjoy the school theme. Unsure whether its due to being able to make a connection easy or purely cause I'm used to it by now, though. But there's no denying, if you throw a dart at a list of random VNs you'll probably hit one with a school theme, haha.
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Re: Regarding School Life Theme

#4 Post by Shad12ow » Thu Feb 21, 2013 12:01 am

Thank you for the answers. :mrgreen:
So if, let's say, a VN that took place in an academy, but didn't revolve around school occurrence. I mean the events happened at school, but not at school event etc. Is that still considered a "school life" theme?

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Re: Regarding School Life Theme

#5 Post by gekiganwing » Thu Feb 21, 2013 1:43 am

If your setting is very similar to several well-known or popular series, then that's not necessarily bad... but it may be time to think up a somewhat different idea, or reconsider your setting. In other words, think how to vary things up: "what if this were done with stark realism / what if everyone had superpowers?" And ask yourself WHY you like the setting.

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Re: Regarding School Life Theme

#6 Post by elhlyn » Thu Feb 21, 2013 1:56 am

1. I do honestly think its rather overused. I mean whether it's debatable that Dating sims are Visual novels or vice versa, even so its rather over used. Now, I don't think its a bad thing, most notably the 2 (one is my favorite, the other is just one I know is famous) is Toradora! and Clannad. Both are set in a school setting and they are both focusing on their school life/relationships. now, I heard (well actually I saw my friend's brother watching it one day) and Clannad focuses on also beyond highschool and what not. but I digress. It's most certainly popular in VN (if you include Dating sims which fills practically 90% or more of the genre) if not Mangas.

what I'm trying to say is yes it is rather overused but in a sense it's I guess to put it, excused. I mean you have to have great characters to make it good but there's room,

2. well it goes either way. I think technically it's the protagonist's time and life through out school, hence school life not school setting I could be wrong

3. as I mention on question 1, it's a rather overused theme, I know there are NUMEROUS AND NUMEROUS dating sims that revolve around school life. not saying I actually played one though....

but its those its mediocre and it takes a good character and the right dialogue to make the story great.

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Re: Regarding School Life Theme

#7 Post by LittleAngel » Thu Feb 21, 2013 5:50 pm

It may be used quite a bit, but I think that as long as a game has an interesting story people will enjoy it.

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Re: Regarding School Life Theme

#8 Post by Boomsickle » Mon Feb 25, 2013 3:44 pm

The high school theme works in a way that makes it perfect for interaction because lets face it those of us that have a;ready graduated probably only socialize with people online or at our work place. School is that place where you could potentially meet over 500 other people around your age with the communality of a school structure. There is lots of events that can happen at a school for potential love and lots of excuses you can make for two people to spend 8-14 hours of their day together. Its also one of those things where if you see someone everyday that occasional day they miss is the day you'll notice you cared for them. It's used a lot because its such a great time in youth (speaking from a slice of life/real world setting) where your still care-free enough to enjoy your hours but still have lots of things to worry about. So yes it is used alot but its not over used. If that were the case than VN taking place in a house is way over used or heck dare i say taking place outside! woah! Don't worry about your setting so much. You dont have to cater to the masses just because you want lots of people to read it. If your idea is original and interesting enough people will read it.

Shad12ow wrote:Thank you for the answers. :mrgreen:
So if, let's say, a VN that took place in an academy, but didn't revolve around school occurrence. I mean the events happened at school, but not at school event etc. Is that still considered a "school life" theme?
Clannad takes place in a high school setting but the only actual classes i can remember attending were quick 5 second class periods where the professor stood in front than it went to the end of class or you're thinking about something than the class ends. No one wants to sit through a lecture if its not important.

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Re: Regarding School Life Theme

#9 Post by Aines445 » Mon Feb 25, 2013 4:09 pm

1 - Overused? So? Does that mean it sucks? OF COURSE NOT, so why is that a problem? Yeah I throwed a lot of questions there but to the point: It is a common theme now, as in a lot of japanese VNs, but not so much lately, I've been looking at some really cool ideas, so It's not THAT overused, mostly because people are trying to avoid it (Because they think it's overused see the irony? XD).

2 - School theme and school setting are pretty different (At least for me), like school theme is like school life, with events surrounding the school life of certain characters (Maybe with special powers but you get the idea). And school setting being ON A school, but with events not surrounding school life and school events. So I think they're different.

3 - Hmmm....I like every theme except maybe science fiction and too much tragedy/drama, so I guess I like it, but I'm more of a fantasy person, so I never really think of a story with a school theme or setting. Some people don't like it because they're getting tired of that, but I have no problems with that, since I don't think that's unoriginal. I think nothing is truly unorignal as nothing is original too. So I always give school themes a chance, and all others too. I mean, why not? They put their effort and creativity into it, so I'll play it.

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Re: Regarding School Life Theme

#10 Post by Desu_Cake » Mon Feb 25, 2013 5:15 pm

Objectively speaking, there's absolutely nothing wrong with having a story centred around school life. It has a lot of things going for it, like the ability to have characters with a large variety of personality traits and interests, a reason to have to see each-other every day, and plenty of changes happening to them physically and mentally.
That said however, if I see a game with that sort of theme, I'm unlikely to play it. It's horrendously overused, not just in visual novels, but in all sorts of media, especially in stuff coming from Japan. This doesn't mean it's bad, but it does mean that it'll have to work harder, and have more things in it in order to grab my interest. It's so prevalent that they don't really bother even mentioning it in advertisements for anime that have it.
Like Kotura-san is marketed as being about a girl who can read minds, Chu2byou is about people living in their fantasies, hell, even Azumanga Daioh is about a bunch of crazy girls doing fun stuff. The fact that they go to school isn't mentioned, it's just taken for granted.
It's not a marketing point. And if I see something that is using it as one, I usually think something along the lines of "Is that all? Nothing to see here." I know that I'm judging a book by its cover, but it's simply not enough to interest me on its own.

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Re: Regarding School Life Theme

#11 Post by Flowers from Nowhere » Mon Feb 25, 2013 8:10 pm

Desu_Cake wrote: if I see a game with that sort of theme, I'm unlikely to play it. It's horrendously overused, not just in visual novels, but in all sorts of media, especially in stuff coming from Japan. This doesn't mean it's bad, but it does mean that it'll have to work harder, and have more things in it in order to grab my interest.
This is my stance as well. That said, if school drama is what you really want to write then go for it! Fear of using cliches can suck the life out of your creativity. It is far better to write a cliche well than it is to write an original concept badly.

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Re: Regarding School Life Theme

#12 Post by SundownKid » Mon Feb 25, 2013 9:51 pm

Shad12ow wrote:Thank you for the answers. :mrgreen:
So if, let's say, a VN that took place in an academy, but didn't revolve around school occurrence. I mean the events happened at school, but not at school event etc. Is that still considered a "school life" theme?
It's a "school life" game as long as it takes place within any single "campus" where people go to "classes" of some kind and have things like dorms and teachers. For example, Valkyria Chronicles II took place in a military academy unexpectedly put into battle, that's school life. Mana Khemia took place in a magic school, that's school life as well. It can be fantasy or non-fantasy as long as those criteria are there.

It's very commonly used in Japan since they see school life as an idyllic time before adulthood, where in America high school is usually thought of as awkward and socially painful.

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Re: Regarding School Life Theme

#13 Post by LateWhiteRabbit » Mon Feb 25, 2013 10:39 pm

Shad12ow wrote: Is it true that is is an overused theme? I mean I do play some VN, but not a lot. But, yeah, I see a lot of them revolved around school life. But is it to the point of being overused?
Yes, I think it is quite overused, but it isn't just VNs -
Desu_Cake wrote:It's horrendously overused, not just in visual novels, but in all sorts of media, especially in stuff coming from Japan.
Like Desu_Cake says, it is overused in a whole lot of media. And this might depend on your age. If you've been around a while, nearly all VNs and dating sims used to be set in schools. There is more diversity now, but those that've been in the VN scene for a while are probably still suffering from setting overload.

And it isn't just the setting itself - its the fact that is a hot bed of old and tired cliches and tropes. There are so many related to the setting that you could almost play Bingo with them. And it is really hard NOT to use those cliches, because they are usually too good to pass up for the setting.
inhalance wrote: I'm totally fine with school settings, especially since I'm still in school right now. It gives me something to relate to :)
This goes back to the age-thing I mentioned. Yes, it is a really popular setting in media because teens and those in school CAN relate to it. But to someone that is out of school, it is kind of a tired and trite setting. With the perspective of age, things that make good drama for a teen just seem stupid to an adult.

Will we pass that big test or pop quiz? Who will take who to the dance? Will we get invited to the popular kids' party? How can I ever get all this homework done? Is the straight-A student going to make a B? Is the cheerleading captain trying to rule the school with her mean girls? What mysterious decisions are being made in the teacher's lounge?

These may seem exciting or dramatic to a school age player, but an adult has faced all that in real life, and likely has enough perspective and experiences to know that almost NONE of that mattered. So it is hard to get worried or invested with a school setting or character, because ultimately we know that character is going to be fine - "it gets better" as they say, and almost nothing you did in high school matters. (Shocking, but true.)

As an adult, much of the tension of the setting has been removed. A lot of, "Geez, kid. I'd kill to have your problems" may be muttered while the protagonist bitches. Now couple all that with having read, seen, and played more versions of the setting than a teen, and you can see how an adult might find the setting boring from a "been there, done that, bought a lot of T-shirts" stance. Now, adults can still enjoy stories with child and teen protagonists, but they better have more important problems than passing math class or getting invited to the big dance.

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Re: Regarding School Life Theme

#14 Post by Zylinder » Tue Feb 26, 2013 6:50 am

LWR pretty much hit the nail on the head. I'll add another opinion: I'm burned out on Young Adult anything, and have been since I was halfway through high school. It's not even just school life. It's the entire concept of teenagers/YAs yapping about X Liking Y and Z being so hot look at those abs hahaha look outcast girl. I can't even stand to look at the covers of YA novels.

Strangely enough, I'm much more receptive to college/university stories, which is something you might want to explore if you're looking into academic settings. It affords you the opportunity to make more mature characters, and you won't have to bore anyone with mentions of acne and locker graffiti antics.
Shad12ow wrote:Thank you for the answers. :mrgreen:
So if, let's say, a VN that took place in an academy, but didn't revolve around school occurrence. I mean the events happened at school, but not at school event etc. Is that still considered a "school life" theme?
It depends. If the cast is composed entirely of students (which is what practically what every school life game is about) and they still succumb to the usual high school antics, then I won't like it no matter the setting and events. On the other hand, if you make a game at a school revolving around the faculty, I'd be a lot more interested, if only to check out the dynamics between teachers/principals/other staff. Heck, you can even make a game about a janitor's life in school, and the various interactions between students, staff, and him. It'll still be 'school life', but it'd be a fresh take at it.

Of course, you can hit all the overused tropes and still have something great. I mean, look at Persona 3 and 4. The whole thing not only took place in a high school, there were hardly any adults in both games. 50% of the game was about a teenager's own problems. Everyone still loved it. It's all about how well you can make something, and how you develop those characters.

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Re: Regarding School Life Theme

#15 Post by Obscura » Tue Feb 26, 2013 7:27 am

3. What do you think about this theme? Do you like it?


I'd totally play a HS theme VN. But for me personally, it would have to fit the following requirements:

1) does not use anime art
2) is not set in Japan
3) does not have characters like "the mean one" (the tsundere...?) "the energetic one" or other common VN types

Basically, I'm all about HS themes as long as they are completely devoid of any connection to Japanese style VNs. Just because there are so many of them already.

Something more akin to the settings in films like Heathers, Ghost World, or Fast Times? Bring it and I'll love you forever.
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