The University of Florida has added an honors class to its roster that applies the skills learned in StarCraft to the real world.
Sorry curmudgeonly old professors that think videogames only rot children’s brains: You can’t keep videogames out of the classroom. They’ve been invading schools regularly over the past year, with the University of Florida the latest educational institution to implement a class based on a videogame. This time, it’s one focused on StarCraft.
Whereas Wabash College has students study Portal as an example of an author’s literary analysis of a sociological aspect, the University of Florida’s StarCraft class, called 21st Century Skills in StarCraft, focuses on the skills learned in the game and what value they present in the real world.
The class’s description justifies itself by saying it’s “important for professionals to be highly proficient in skills such as critical thinking, problem solving, resource management, and adaptive decision making.” These are skills that every good StarCraft player needs, and that workers in real life management situations need as well. Just like having to manage a counter-measure to a rush of Zerg attacking your base, an employee at a bank might have to quickly manage what’s possible and what’s not when a crisis arises.
Nate Poling is a Ph.D. candidate at the University and came up with the idea for the course. Poling told Technology Review: “My problem-solving skills in StarCraft are the same problem-solving skills learned in school or the real world,” and that StarCraft is simply a “tool” in the class’s case just like a textbook. “In StarCraft you’re managing a lot of different units and groups of different capacities,” he continued. “It’s not a stretch to think of that in the business world or in the work of a healthcare administrator.”
It’s all about learning to manage the resources at hand in the workplace, and StarCraft has plenty of resource management and hectic predicaments. While StarCraft isn’t going to teach anyone how to manage a hospital, the theory is that it could wire the brain of someone educated as a hospital manager to think about situations and what’s at hand more clearly. The train of thought is mirrored by others like Jane McGonigal that believe learning to problem solve in online games can save the world. It’s certainly an interesting theory.