This article is more than 4 years old

Simulating university life: from feast to famine

Paul Greatrix rounds up university-themed games, and finds a very depressing simulation of the life of a US adjunct.
This article is more than 4 years old

Paul Greatrix is Registrar at The University of Nottingham, author and creator of Registrarism and a Contributing Editor of Wonkhe.

We’ve covered a range of university and campus-inspired games and simulations here over the years. For example, there are these bespoke university monopoly sets and, of course, there is Pokemon Go which had its moment on university campuses a while back

And who can forget the fun of Austen world in which

players compete to collect guests to complete their ultimate dinner party table. From Elizabeth Bennet to Emma Woodhouse, every Janeite can now welcome their much-loved heroines, heroes, unwanted suiters and overbearing relatives to their dining table using societal assets – wit, wealth, heart and beauty.

Let’s pretend

Then there are the simulations.

Compare and contrast these for example – this leadership development game run by the Academic Leadership and Innovation Institute in the US for future academic leaders:

While administrators spend decades learning how to shape a mission, serve competing constituencies, and keep a budget out of the red, professors’ understanding of how their college works often does not go much farther than their own departments. The institute’s aim is not to persuade faculty members that administrators are always right, nor to say that it’s only professors who need to do more to see the other side. Instead, the workshops seek to give professors a better grasp of the broader workings of their institutions so they can help make them better.

And the much more entertaining Sims 3 University, because

university isn’t just about hitting the books. Join a protest, flirt at a bonfire party—there’s a lot to explore outside of lectures at the student union. With new locations like the bowling alley and SimBurger to visit, and new activities like juice pong and spray painting murals to enjoy, your Sims are sure to have the time of their lives!

A different kind of simulation

But, coming back down to earth, there is this now this ‘adjunct simulator’ set in a fictional college in the US.

Things really aren’t fun for adjuncts at Flatland Follies….

This college used to be one of the best in the country. Fifty years later the campus is destitute, they can’t pay professors, and it’s filled with dusty, decaying art.

Terrible colleges are sprinkled all over the United States. Some of the worst are a toxic slurry of student loans, college athletics, hardline religious faith, and idle corruption. Given low pay and terrible standards, these schools need a constant flow of adjunct instructors. You play a freshly minted Fine Art adjunct from an upper middle class background who’s just accepted a position at an Oklahoma college in bad decline. Can you scrabble a living teaching and hoist yourself out of one of the poorest states in the country?

It’s certainly a challenge, and life can be pretty grim for the adjunct:

Day: 1, Money: $25, Self actualization: 50
Welcome to the Adjunct Simulator. Play your way through the daily struggles of teaching at a declining college in Oklahoma. The choices you make affect your income and self actualization. You’ll get a paycheck every six days.

As the introduction has it: can you make ends meet, and make it all worthwhile?

Good luck.

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