Barring drying leaves and the uptick in yellow school buses come late August, the signal that a new semester was starting, to me, was the way the air started to smell. Post-graduation, I let the seasons change without fanfare. But usually, I’d notice that in summer, a puff of warm wind smells sweet and sunny, like coconut-infused lotion (unless you’re in New York City, where summer wind smells like baked dog shit). In autumn, the air cools and smells crisper, crunchier, like fresh earth (or, if you’re in NYC, it smells like chilled dog shit).
Though it doesn’t mean as much to me anymore, that autumn smell still makes me nostalgic for two decades of first days of school. But school’s out forever. I begrudgingly accept that I’m a working semi-adult now. So to get my fix, I turn to these eight video games, which are either set in schools or feature memorable school elements. They’ll make you feel like you’re 18 again, only armed with a gun, or an ax, or hunted by monsters, for some reason. And we have something for everyone.