College Course Teaches Pro Starcraft


A course offered at UC Berkeley is teaching Starcraft fans how to take their skills to the next level by using mathematics, Sun-Tzu and “advanced Starcraft theory.”

The course, taught by Alan Feng, “will go in-depth in the theory of how war is conducted within the confines of the game Starcraft.” Using calculus, differential equations and analyzing footage of Starcraft matches, the goal is to “think more deeply about the game to derive a greater satisfaction from playing…for students to learn, enjoy the art of competitive Starcraft, and have fun.” More than that, the lessons learned should “have applications in real life, to further synthesize new information from limited inferences.”

Yeah, okay. Sounds like a glorified “how to play Starcraft like the pros” seminar. Take a look at the course outline – it reads like a Table of Contents for a strategy guide. Week two covers “units, strength, weakness, attributes, stats,” week three is “fighting micro and unit use,” and week four is “army movement and positioning” and so on and so forth.

But if it doesn’t really sound like a bona fide college class, that’s because it really isn’t. For one, it’s only offered for two credits and is taken pass/fail. Secondly, it’s listed as a DeCal course. DeCal’s an alternative education program at Cal that lets students “manage and direct their own learning” without the threat of grades. Other DeCal classes include “Intro to Handball” and a class about Second Life, as well as a class about Tupac and “Batman As American Mythology.”

That’s not to say that anyone who doesn’t know their Protoss from their Terrans doesn’t have anything to learn here. So if you’re around Berkeley and Starcraft and diff eq are your cup of tea, the class starts on January 29, with labs running on Saturdays from 12 to 5 pm at the Moffitt Library. Technically you have to be a Cal student, but Feng seems to be encouraging folks to sneak in anyway. He’ll also be webcasting the lectures, so basically anyone can participate. Check out the Facebook group for more info.

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