Before I started playing Dungeons & Dragons every week, I thought the tabletop game would be too nerdy for my tastes. Just hearing the name conjured images of players wearing black hooded robes, gathered around a circular table tucked away in the basement to spend hours hunched over miniature figurines and toss dice around. It turns out that I was wrong about D&D, because there are activities far geekier that don’t involve character sheets, like enrolling for the Witcher school. Inspired by The Witcher games and the fantasy book series by Andrzej Sapkowski, the school is essentially a LARP (live action role playing) experience for adults.
During the session, you will become an apprentice going through rigorous witcher training. You’ll learn fencing, archery, and alchemy before moving on to hunt monsters. There will be challenges along the way to test your resolve and put you in situation where tough decisions need to be made. Oh, and you’ll be going through all of your training in an actual castle in Poland, where other characters from the franchise will be present to aide you. According to the website only 50 participants can enroll at a time, and it looks like there are 4 games a year.
Excuse me while I make space next to my Bachelor’s degree for the certificates from fictional schools I plan on graduating from. Now that The Witcher training exists in the real world, here are some other video-game related schools and programs that I’d like to enroll in:
College of Winterhold, Skyrim
Every time I went back to play Skyrim, I started off with good intentions. “I’ll follow the main quest line this time.” I said. “I might make one or two stops along the way, but I won’t get distracted.” I lied. With every play through, I always made a point to stop by the College Of Winterhold. This was more for role-play purposes, but I wanted to feel like my mage character went to class and learned how to shoot fireballs from her hands as opposed to maxing out the skill tree for that specific vein of magic. Not only does the College of Winterhold have an incredibly easy entry exam (you prove your merit by casting a spell–that’s it!), you can sit in and listen to lectures on Doomstones and Restoration.
If the College of Winterhold actually existed it would probably involve more essay writing and reading than casting, but the trainers at the college who would teach me the way of conjuration or alchemy charge a lot of gold for their services anyway…so it’s not too far off from the actual experience of receiving a higher education. Instead of a fancy piece of paper, I’d be able to gloat about being top of the alteration class.
Jedi Training, Star Wars Franchise
Unsurprisingly, Star Wars contains a lot of fictional programs that I would love to subject myself to. Even though lightsaber training exists, I feel like the entire experience of learning how to wield such a dangerous weapon doesn’t feel right unless you’re learning to become a Jedi in the process. Although the teachings of the Jedi Code are noble, they’re pretty hard to put into practice. With all the discussion around the light and dark side, I would need a teacher to help guide me through any inevitable existential crises’ I might have about my place in the galaxy. As a Padawan learner, I’d need to keep a relaxed mind, use the force for good, and build my own lightsaber to fight injustices.
Sure, there are a lot of negative things to be said about Jedi training and the entire philosophy in general, but not all of us are Anakins. I would never sass Ewan McGregor. The hustle it takes to become a Jedi doesn’t sound glamorous at all, but the payoff would certainly be worth it. I think if Jedi training actually existed it would be socially acceptable to wear robes in public. Besides, I’ve already begun honing in on my lightsaber skills. As a side note, it’s incredibly difficult to LARP with a lightsaber and not smack yourself in the face.
The Heroes Guild, Fable
The purpose of the Heroes Guild in Fable is to groom men and women into becoming saviors of Albion. That doesn’t sound bad, right? Just ignore the low graduation rate because of stress and trauma; I want the glory that comes with being a hero! As a bonus after graduation, those who managed to make it out alive are awarded with a Guild Seal, which not only symbolizes your completion of the training, but also allows you to teleport.
If the Heroes Guild were to exist in our world, it would probably be like a boarding school. I would be shipped off for training as a young child and spend years working my way to the top .I would also have a roommate so we could complain about our vigorous training and wonder when we would stop collecting and killing beetles before being able to actually do something cool. Eventually (after squashing lots of beetles) I’d learn my way around a longsword by hitting straw dummies, and pierce their chest with arrows during archery lessons. If all goes well, the Guildmaster will reward me with a Guild Seal and send me off into the real world with a backpack of basic supplies and shut the doors behind me. At least I’m prepared!
Grissom Academy, Mass Effect 3
Although first introduced in the novels, Grissom Academy made its debut in-game during Mass Effect 3. Even though our first impression of the station involves Cerberus attempting to take control, the academy is actually a pleasant training facility for teenagers to embrace and control their biotic abilities. It’s essentially a private school for gifted space wizards. At first, having biotic powers isn’t as great as they seem because you’d need to get implants in order to take that dark energy and expel it. After recovering from getting those implants tucked into your body, you might also be gifted with migraines too!
Oh, and because of your biotics, you also burn a lot of calories and constantly need to snack so you don’t pass out. But if all of that hardship means I can perform actions like singularity or shockwave then I’m still game. If Grissom Academy existed, I like to think it would still be housed in outer space, probably near the moon instead of a different part of the galaxy. Since there would be a lot of teenagers it might be similar to high school, but with space magic…so way more tolerable.
Whispering Rock Psychic Summer Camp, Psychonauts
I wish Whispering Rock Psychic Summer Camp existed so I had somewhere other than yearbook camp to spend a few weeks. In Psychonauts, the psychic dojo served as a remote government controlled facility where paranormally gifted children could go and train to become psychonauts, an elite group of secret agents born with psychic abilities. Instead of gathering around a campfire and participating in arts and crafts, I would be exploring mental worlds and learning how to control my powers as a cool psychic kid. It’s not all fun and games, though. For example, every mental world I explore is within my camp instructor’s head and is ripe with challenges that I need to overcome. Every situation is different, depending on the person whose brain I’m invading. Whispering Rock is really more of a brain camp mixed with strenuous mental and physical activities, but it sounds way more exciting than roasting smores.