High School is a classic video game first released by Atari in 1989. It was the first game of its kind that had the ability to affect the future of the player, earning it the nickname "the game that matters" by both players and critics alike.
The innovative game interface was seen by some as a breath of fresh air in the gaming industry. Others saw it as the end of the world. Nevertheless, High School is regarded by most as the easiest and most intuitive game of its day. The objective is simple: gain enough Popularity Points to advance up the food chain and graduate as a socially acceptable and valuable individual. In order to gain Popularity Points, players have to perform tasks in order to appeal to their peers, who are all non-player characters controlled by the main game engine.
There are several clearly defined groups that the player must decide early on to align with or reject completely. This is vital to gaining Popularity Points. Many critics of the game argue that this discourages individuality and that, rather than choosing a group that will fit a player's personality. The game's designers have addressed this issue, replying that "there is actually no personality feature in the game to further encourage the collection of Popularity Points." Some of these groups include:
A terrible choice. Nerds offer very little bonus multipliers to your Popularity Points, nor do they offer very many opportunities to earn Popularity Points. In fact, the only way to earn Popularity Points as a member of the Nerd group is by helping other groups cheat on tests and creating a false persona on social networking sites. The game explicitly warns players very early on of the dangers of aligning with Nerds. The only advantages are that they will accept almost anyone who is accepting of them, meaning even the most inept players have a chance of making progress in the game. This is one of the features that made the game so popular during the early 90s because it was designed for everyone.
Another terrible choice, perhaps the only wrong choice in the whole of the game. Becoming a part of this group thrusts the player deep into a secret plot to shoot up all the minorities at the school. The player is not informed that this is a suicide mission, and, should they decide to go through with the plan, will find themselves alone amidst flaming piles of Negro carcases. This is Game Over.
Being a Nobody has its advantages and disadvantages. Very little attention is drawn to the player, which is both a good thing and a bad thing. Personality Points have a x1 multiplier, and come by every once in a while. The player makes some friends, but not too many. Intelligence levels in this group are about average. No one really pays any attention to this group. Players are not really advised to join or avoid this group, in fact, it's barely mentioned throughout the game.
This is generally a hip-hop oriented group. Players that become members of this group become very well off in the realm of Popularity Points. Clothing doesn't necessarily have to fit, and the character doesn't have to be particularly intelligent or attractive to score many Popularity Points. If the character is male, then this is a pretty decent choice. Female characters are advised to avoid this group, as gaining Popularity Points in this group involves much attention to one's personal appearance, (in sharp contrast to males in this group) regular performance of assorted sex acts, and having a great ass. In some rare cases, overweight female characters have done well in this group, but only by adapting extremely well.
Gaining Popularity Points in this group is extremely easy, but requires much skill. The very act of walking down the hallway is a contest of wills, as the player attempts to turn more heads than other non-player characters for Popularity Points. Belonging to the Prep group requires much work, and is only recommended for players who are truly committed to the game. Players that choose this group are bombarded with blunt messages that brainwash them into believing that the game actually matters.
High School is, according to the back of the box, filled with a variety of tasks and quests called Events. These play out like minigames during the storyline and can be anything from skipping school and playing practical jokes to avoiding your drunken P.E. teacher and playing the tenor sax in the talent show only to find it full of feces. While in reality, these minigames have nothing to do with academics or your future, and the results of the Events will certainly have no long term effects on you, the back of the box claims otherwise. A warning label absolves Atari of all mental and emotional trauma one may experience when playing the game, providing an excuse for individuals who had played the game as to why they are still single at the age of 35.
Fans of High School
High School has developed a strong cult following over the years. Many devotees still play the game, believing that it has some place in adult life and actually has relevance and meaning in society. Several television shows have been made about the game, further working to convince the public that High School matters. While Atari has since released several press statements insisting that "it's just a stupid game. Quit taking High School so seriously. We're sick of getting e-mails from you people all the time, complaining that your video game girlfriend broke up with you or that your friend's dad in the game is filing for a restraining order against you. Nobody cares." The public has, as a whole, rejected these statements and continued to insist that even the smallest things in the game are worth fretting and worrying about while staring at local bodies of water with terrible sad music playing in the background.
Criticism of High School
- Just like in real life.
- Just like in real life.