A digital class in a virtual campus takes field trips to simulated spaces, for real life credit.
Are games art? The debate has been raging for years, but instructors at Bowling Green State University in Ohio say yes – and they’re willing to give out college credit based on that claim. The university’s student-run newspaper reports that virtual art classes have been educating scholars using Second Life and is now branching out to include Minecraft as well.
Students attend these online classes by getting together with their classmates and instructor at a virtual campus in Second Life. There, they stroll their avatars through in-game art galleries and visit recreations of famous places like the Sistine Chapel. Students also undertake individual projects to demonstrate their digital creativity.
The program has taken a turn for the blocky with the addition of Minecraft to its curriculum. It began with a contest where players – that is, students – were given a finite number of blocks and a limited amount of time to go make art happen. The game is now used in more academic environments, such as freshman Michael Reasoner’s student methodology project. “For the project, we had to come up with a question,” explained Reasoner, “and my question was ‘What would life look like in Minecraft?'” He then crafted a replica of the Bowling Green campus in the game, though presumably with a higher population of zombies and creepers.
Another student in the class used their project to blur the line between games, recreating Angry Birds with Minecraft blocks. “People make all sorts of crazy things in Minecraft,” Reasoner said. “It takes time and talent to do that; you can’t just walk up to a pottery wheel and make something perfect.”
The Minecraft portion of the curriculum doesn’t seem too different from what players would be doing with the game anyway, but there’s something to be said for testing the boundaries of creativity within games. It can’t hurt to take a step back and look at games with the same academic scrutiny with which we observe other mediums. Plus, with some transfer literature credit from Rice University, maybe one day it’ll be possible to earn a whole degree with video game studies.
Source: BG News