Now that everybody’s going back to school, you’re probably going to have to endure boring courses and lectures about things you will never actually use in real life. But at Wabash College in Indiana (US), freshmen get to play Portal as a class assignment.
The game will be part of a Sociology course called Enduring Questions. Its inclusion into the curriculum was in part motivated by an article posted in Gamasutra by Daniel Johnson that discusses the relationship between the game and language in sociology.
The article talks about how our interactions with society are similar to a play in which we participate in a performance for the rest of society while keeping our inner thoughts and feelings backstage. This idea can be identified in Portal through the interactions between GLaDOS and the player and how little by little the curtain is pulled to reveal the actual facility and its intentions.
According to the Wabash College faculty, the assignment doesn’t involve just playing the game, but instead analyzing several relevant sections of the game through some sort of group playthrough. Hundreds of students take the course, so providing the game and hardware for all of them would be difficult (and expensive).
It looks like a fun way to discuss some of these topics, which sometimes can get somewhat boring. The inclusion of this game into a college’s curriculum might foster similar ideas in other institutions. History lessons could kick it up a notch, for instance.
How about some Medal of Honor to illustrate WWII? Maybe using God of War for mythology lessons is taking it too far, but you get the idea.
Videogames get people’s attention and by participating in a game, you get a richer experience than by simply reading through something.
Image Credit: Valve