Pineapples are easy. They don’t ask questions, cause trouble, run around, have special needs, or do much more than sit there. Schools, on the other hand, are difficult. They’re filled with children who don’t want to be there and teachers in various stages of burnout, funding is a sad joke, and pressure comes from every side to excel using metrics that depersonalize everyone involved. When an evil wizard shows up one day and turns all the children at a Boston school into pineapples it would seem like disaster has struck, but while maybe the results aren’t so great for the kids it turns out to be a fantastic opportunity for the school. Children are hard, after all, but pineapples are easy.
In No Pineapple Left Behind you’re the principal of a charter middle school, and it’s your job to make sure the pineapples take the tests and earn the grades that secure profitable funding. A properly handled pineapple will remain a pineapple, but neglect one and it starts to turn back into a child, with all the attendant problems dealing with a small person brings with it. As principle it’s your job to manage the school, hiring bright-eyed optimistic teachers and firing them when they’ve burned out, adding classes to placate the pineapples and dropping them save on the budget, hiring cops to turn children back into pineapples and expelling the ones with the worst test scores, and in general doing everything possible to maximize the school’s funding. Dehumanizing? You bet! But profitable too, so that’s ok.
If all this sounds darkly cynical and viciously funny, there’s a good reason for that. Subaltern Games was also responsible for the pleasantly mean-spirited NeoColonialism, in which you got to play as a financier lining your own pockets by desecrating the planet. In No Pineapple Left Behind, Seth Alter is drawing on his personal experience as a teacher and bringing the same subversive viewpoint to running a school’s bureaucracy. Like NeoColonialism before it, No Pineapple Left Behind is also getting a Kickstarter (coming soon, September 22), giving it the necessary push to see its ideas through to completion. Teaching pineapples the foreign language of Cantalopian by casting the Memorizer spell on the class doesn’t come cheap, after all. The pineapples may never speak Cantalopian again but standardized testing doesn’t care, and if they fail to learn it at least long enough to score high on the test then the profits of a private charter school fall as its government funding lessens, and nobody wants that. Right…?