College Professor Requires Students to Study Portal

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College Professor Requires Students to Study Portal

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A teacher at Wabash College has been able to convince administration to include Portal on the required reading list.

Thanks to college professor Michael Abbott, Portal is now part of the educational requirements at Indiana's Wabash College. The game has been officially approved for inclusion into a seminar required for all freshmen students where they analyze "classic and contemporary works from all disciplines."

The course is "devoted to engaging students with fundamental questions of humanity from multiple perspectives and fostering a sense of community." It exposes students to poetry, the works of Aristotle, Shakespeare's Hamlet, and now Portal as well.

Abbott was able to convince his non-gamer colleagues to include the game in the course's requirements as a "non-textual" source by aligning it directly with Erving Goffman's Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, a book that compares the presentation of one's self to a theatrical play that has a backstage where the truth is hidden. After ensuring Wabash's faculty that Steam wasn't going to install a virus, he proved Portal to be an example of the "backstage machination and onstage performance" aspect of humanity that Goffman presents.

Now, after reading Goffman, students will follow it up with a playthrough of Portal. This is only the beginning of Abbott's schemes, as he's seemingly planning more videogame integration into the course, but he calls Portal a "good first impression" and "lead-off hitter" for instructors not used to teaching with videogames. Strangely enough, Portal 2's co-op campaign focuses on questions of humanity as well, so perhaps the sequel could be an easy progression for next year's class.

Source: Brainy Gamer , via Slashdot

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Lucky students get the best teacher on the planet.

Ok I didn't really understand the 'backstage' stuff but that seems pretty cool I guess. What does it have to do with the course though. I don't understand really...

I'm guessing I'll take a peep at the guys book and then maybe be put off if it's too long.

EDIT: I'm guessing near the end where Glados says all the "why do you carry on", "Nobody loves you" is kinda linked maybe. Also I thought the book would be a PDF document for some reason. Someone explain.

CLAP CLAP CLAP "a single tear and a smile" CLAP CLAP CLAP.

MrPop:
Ok I didn't really understand the 'backstage' stuff but that seems pretty cool I guess. What does it have to do with the course though. I don't understand really...

I'm guessing I'll take a peep at the guys book and then maybe be put off if it's too long.

The cake. It was a lie.

MrPop:
Ok I didn't really understand the 'backstage' stuff but that seems pretty cool I guess. What does it have to do with the course though. I don't understand really...

Well Portals essentially broke down into two main acts; One in which your rat within GLaDOSs testing facility and the second in which you go "backstage", breaking away from the illusion and seeing the seedy underbelly, which is reflected in GLaDOSs hysteria and madness in this section.

I wish I had a teacher who gave us homework of playing videogames, I would feel more inclined to do it.

is this the first time something like this has happened?

Tom Goldman:

MrPop:
Ok I didn't really understand the 'backstage' stuff but that seems pretty cool I guess. What does it have to do with the course though. I don't understand really...

I'm guessing I'll take a peep at the guys book and then maybe be put off if it's too long.

The cake. It was a lie.

So I'm guessing it's referring to the tests and the dark reality behind them where things aren't as they seem? That seems pretty obvious when I thought about it a bit. Kinda slow today.

konor77:
is this the first time something like this has happened?

I'm guessing so seeing as it's a newspost.

OT: I wouldn't like the sound of this as a homework.

Awesome, that's all I can say.

*Student sits up in class*

"THIS CLASS WAS A LIE!"

In all seriousness though, Best.. Teacher... Ever..

lucky'est bastards on the planet, wierdly a few days ago i was thinking "boy i wish they used portal to teach us about forward momentum at school, speedy thing goe's in speedy thing comes out and all that"

so.......awesome......

Wow. Wish this guy was my teacher.

However, I can see a downside to this. Not everyone plays video games, and while Portal is short, it can get confusing. Now imagine someone who's never played video games in their life picking it up and trying to play it. I hope he has a walkthrough ready for those people.
And don't get me started I how difficult it is for first-time players to get the hang of a mouse and keyboard control scheme (or controller for the matter).

While the tie seems a bit circumstantial, I really like this teacher. Showing that videogames have deep, philosophical, and meaningful stories (as they sometimes do) is the first step to proving their medium as an artform (which is still in its infancy). Games like Assassin's Creed, Portal, and Bioshock all have something to say in their philosophies directly. This goes beyond games that are strictly meaningful in the way of elementary (Oregon Trail for leadership, Math Blaster for K-5 math, Treasure Mountain for various) or even advanced (Democracy 2 for politics) education that is shallow and lacking a storyline.

Sniper Team 4:
Wow. Wish this guy was my teacher.

However, I can see a downside to this. Not everyone plays video games, and while Portal is short, it can get confusing. Now imagine someone who's never played video games in their life picking it up and trying to play it. I hope he has a walkthrough ready for those people.
And don't get me started I how difficult it is for first-time players to get the hang of a mouse and keyboard control scheme (or controller for the matter).

IAWTC: I wish he had chosen a game that more new people could get into. Portal is amazing for us, but as Yahtzee noted not long ago, it's scary and difficult to enter the digital 3D world if you never have before.

Hm. Classy. I approve whole-heartedly. Get em' reading Watchmen(or playing Deus Ex) and we'll have something really going there.

I do not know this man. I will most likely never meet this man, yet I love him for this...

LordCuthberton:

konor77:
is this the first time something like this has happened?

I'm guessing so seeing as it's a newspost.

OT: I wouldn't like the sound of this as a homework.

You're joking?

Best. Homework. Evar

I still GTA was better for "engaging students with fundamental questions of humanity from multiple perspectives and fostering molesting a sense of community" but ok, Portal it is. :P

Those bastards. Next year, I'm not sending my transfer application to the University of Virginia, anymore.

MrPop:
Ok I didn't really understand the 'backstage' stuff but that seems pretty cool I guess. What does it have to do with the course though. I don't understand really...

In the context of "fundamental questions of humanity blah blah blah", i assume it means things you don't just tell to strangers, or even to anyone. Like, for example, the details of your sexual life and such. Or your plans of "borrowing" an AC-130 and some napalm to burn down the Activision headquarters. Or that you are secretly an alien invader planning to capture Earth's underwater mineral deposits.

Or maybe i've got it all wrong.

I dunno - generally if you have to study something, you end up hating it. I had to study the Matrix, and also the soundtracks to Batman (1989) and Goldfinger - can't watch any of them any more. Reckon Portal would be the same.

Nazz3:

You're joking?

Best. Homework. Evar

No. I'm quite serious.

Have you ever written a English Literature essay?

When I do I often have to read the book several times over and when writing the essay, read through specific segments for quotes, themes and other writing material.

Imagine that with a video game. Granted a short video game, but that's 3-5 hours depending on your speed and many other factors.

Now imagine searching through the game for a specific moment.

It'd be bloody difficult and time consuming.

Give me Shakespeare anyday.

In my high school modeling/sim class our teacher had us play America's Army to learn about the real life applications of it, and we played Unreal Tournament and used the Unreal engine to make simulations. Also he played with us in class.

EDIT: Now that I think of it, I'd bet he's trying to get the physics teacher to use portal by now.

I guess it's time to go searching for that fountain of youth...

That's pretty awesome. This man deserves a cookie.

Nicely done. This is going to endear him to his students, to say the least.

Tom Goldman:

MrPop:
Ok I didn't really understand the 'backstage' stuff but that seems pretty cool I guess. What does it have to do with the course though. I don't understand really...

I'm guessing I'll take a peep at the guys book and then maybe be put off if it's too long.

The cake. It was a lie.

Don't be silly, we saw it at the end.

If only we had taken the party escort position....-Shakes head-

I'm not the only one seeing the downside to this, am I? Requiring a student plays a game is not the same thing as requiring a student reads a book. Allow I could see this being a good thing, but require? Sorry to be a downer on this, but I'm not keen on the idea.

Oh boy, I'm happy I haven't had any teachers/professors like that yet. The class just below me had to play Hitman as part of their course, and now this guy's students have to play Portal. Unlucky sods. Video games are entertainment, and I would be so pissed off if I had to complete a video game. It's not like reading a book, or watching a movie, where you can at least read the words or sit through it, even if you don't get the point of it. But if a part of a game gives you trouble, you're screwed, and here there isn't the option of just not doing it. Integrating video games into education is a horrible idea.

Aenir:
Lucky students get the best teacher on the planet.

Exactly my thoughts. Games like Rome: Total War can be excellent teaching games as well regarding the history and such. Man, I want such people to be more widespread.

MY GOD!!!
why can't i have sweet profs like that!
although portal has nothing to do with what i am studying. and i mean nothing!

This makes me feel a special kind of happy.

The only thing left is that they teach us about time travel through Doctor Who, and I'll be happy. :D

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