Portal required playing at Wabash College - Report

Students at an Indiana all-men school obligated to play Valve's puzzle shooter as part of mandatory freshmen seminar.

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College students across the country are returning to coursework, friends, and parental freedom soon, but the freshmen class at an Indiana college will find an all-new type of curriculum awaiting them.

According to a Mashable report, Valve's award-winning puzzle game Portal will appear alongside The Epic of Gilgamesh, Hamlet, and other required materials for incoming freshmen at Wabash College.

Unlike the cake, this course is not a lie.

The game will be part of the college's "Enduring Questions" freshman seminar, which explores "fundamental questions of humanity" through "classical and contemporary works."

Michael Abbot, a theater professor at the school, is helping to design the course. Abbot was reportedly inspired to include Portal in the course's required experience material by a game theory article that drew similarities between the game and Erving Goffman's 1959 sociology text The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life.

According to the report, Abbot showed Portal to "non-gaming colleagues" and was pleased to learn that they approved of his plan to include both Goffman's work and Valve's game in the course's curriculum. During the course, students will read Goffman's text followed by a "collective playthrough" of Portal.

While experiencing Portal will not be part of every Enduring Questions section, it is currently being tested by Abbot and his colleagues in select courses.

Further, Abbot said he considered BioShock and Planescape Torment for the class but decided upon Portal because of its relative brevity.

As for the game franchise, Portal 2 is due out on February 9 for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC, and Mac. For more on the series, check out GameSpot's impressions of Portal 2 and review of the original Portal.

Discussion

118 comments
MrHatnClogs
MrHatnClogs

Somebody give that guy professor of the year!!!!

DarkReign2552
DarkReign2552

:| and I decided to pass on that course too... I'm enrolled in Wabash College and I considered including this course because it would've been beneficial in my character design for my writing and English major, but I decided to delay it until next year. Now I really regret that decision considering my love of portal and appreciation of it's story, presentation, and artistic approach.

hoyt414
hoyt414

Interesting to see this. I'm taking a class called Narrative & Technology as a junior at the University of Pittsburgh and one of our required "readings" is Portal, which is mind-blowingly awesome.

maverick_76
maverick_76

I admit that if my Freshman intro to college class was like this I think I would have done better than a D+.

KlepticGrooves
KlepticGrooves

Wow, good to see teachers are thinking outside the box now.

Johny_47
Johny_47

If the college I went to(even though it was for art & design) was like this I wouldn't miss a day and I would 'pass with flying colours' as they say =P

jmorri18
jmorri18

wish my college was that cool :(

yeebsey
yeebsey

on my course we had mandatory bad company and gta iv i say mandatory? it was just something to do when you were hungover from half price sundays during monday lectures that somehow came mandatory for all those with live

progamemania
progamemania

they should include more games into the curriculum, It was my dream when I was a teenager. I am happy that I lived to see it:)

mandmsrock
mandmsrock

i wish i had a teacher like that in college lol

Megavideogamer
Megavideogamer

a tiny step in having Videogames viewed as an Artform? Or just the beginning of "The powers the be" concide that videogames are a driving force in popular culture? What happened to videogames are going to rot your brain, make you waste time, and then turn you into a sociopathic remorseless killer. Become reponsible for turning people into videogame addicts thus bringing about the destruction of western society? Or they just finally figured out that didn't happen. Videogame are just fun. So have a least one required in the freashmen year? people are still going to play. So we might learn something from videogames? or not.

Planeforger
Planeforger

I've had multiple university lecturers refer to Batman: Arkham Asylum or Resident Evil 4 during their lectures, but this sounds rather cool too.

TWayne1020
TWayne1020

Good for physics and psychology !!

Liliroots
Liliroots

wish they required me to play that at my college seminar

Fz1994
Fz1994

lol cool...Hope when i make it to university in 2 years they will have more game coarses that teach stuff xD....God of war teaches about biology , stuff about the intestants and what not. Assasins creed teaches about history....xP

Gyumaou
Gyumaou

damn awesomeeeeeeeee! I bet their website will be getting a massive spike in visits after this article :D The guy knows what to do - portal or torment :D great choices. torment along with bioshock are probably too long, which may explain why the shorter portal was chosen (plus difficulty in obtaining a legal copy of torment... what with blackisle defunct and interplay in a financial sh*tstorm) @peterfaj: from the text i'm guessing the "collective playthrough" means they'll be playing it in class or somesuch, so no forced buying of portal (or a multi-pc license for the college pcs)

great_rulo
great_rulo

Planescape Torment considered for teaching students? MAN that teacher is effin' awesome.

RockySquirrel
RockySquirrel

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Targzissian
Targzissian

Mandatory Portal beats mandatory Shakespeare. Plus, I think the puzzle aspects of the game, and the way it changes how students think about physics and concepts of space are good for the brain.

lrsp
lrsp

I would like to go to this college!

PcGamingRig
PcGamingRig

ok now it's time for biology, here is schoolmate 2. :D

peterfaj
peterfaj

I agree with modernization of schools, but I strongly disagree with any mandatory material, especially if people are forced to buy/rent/other it. But an excuse for playing Portal is pretty awesome.

DiscGuru101
DiscGuru101

Michael Abbot would be happy to know, regular use of Portal is helpful in facilitating better location control in Lucid Dreaming.

gogly
gogly

eh portal is overrated.

supdotcom
supdotcom

Best school in the world? I wish our school was like this...

wis3boi
wis3boi

That's a pretty cool assignment. Not only is it a mental challenge to play, especially for those students who play barely any video games or do puzzles, plus you can do a lot with psychology on its story.

Tectonic76
Tectonic76

I would hate to be forced to play Portal. I thought it was a good game but it wasn't for me

Incredible_Bulk
Incredible_Bulk

@ThAdEa82 Sounds like something you can sell to a psychology professor. Or get a grant for and study why people buy dumb things. (Which, would unfortunately include me as I bought the first map pack and then promptly got tired of COD 4 2.0. I am not knocking the game, I enjoyed it for awhile when it came out, but got tired of it. It just felt the same to me and I ended up wanting the guns from the first MW.)

Incredible_Bulk
Incredible_Bulk

@cabose38 It could happen eventually, but it would most likely be apart of a journalism major, so students would have to write an insane amount of papers just to get to that class, let alone write reviews for games while in that class, and those papers would most likley be graded by a professor who could give a crap about the games and just grade based solely on the paper's merit and not so much on the merits of the game or how the reviewer felt about the game. So, it may not be as cool a class as you think, but it would still be something I would consider taking, if there weren't many prerequiste courses. It might actually lead to better reviews, or it might lead to reviews with better punctuation and grammar, which won't be much of an improvement.

Incredible_Bulk
Incredible_Bulk

You guys are missing the professor's point of playing this game and how it relates to the class. The professor feels that Portal's story, and game mechanics raises questions about humankind, just like Shakepeare's Hamlet, and the Sumerian stories of Gilgamesh. This is why it is required material. You can't just play Portal and get credit for the class. Freshmen will have to draw conclusions about what the game's meaning and write essays about it, of that I have no doubt. This is not Pwn 101. Although, that class would fill up quick at any college or university...

Pete5506
Pete5506

I wouldnt mind taking that course, I want to see how they teach it

imthelumberjack
imthelumberjack

Quote "what a waste. then they blame the students for being dumber then previous generations. well of course. they are learning useless crap in school, sorry, college. no wonder 85% of 2014 college grads think Beethoven is a dog and not a composer." Anybody that graduates in 2014 wouldn't have been alive when the Beethoven movies came out. (i'm not counting the direct to dvd ones)

amaan4ever
amaan4ever

how can i enroll please i want to play and earn credits

joegio13
joegio13

what a waste. then they blame the students for being dumber then previous generations. well of course. they are learning useless crap in school, sorry, college. no wonder 85% of 2014 college grads think Beethoven is a dog and not a composer.

InExcelsis
InExcelsis

I would take this course for sure nothing like getting college credits for playing video games.

akiwak
akiwak

Gaming as a requirement? I'm going back to school!!!!

krookd
krookd

Stupid, although portal is awesome.

shakensparco
shakensparco

As cool as it'd be, I wonder if I'd really learn much by playing through the game.

Flint247
Flint247

Video games allowed in school... sign me up!! :D

zar144
zar144

GLaDOS: ''Hello students, welcome to the Aperture Science Enrinchment Center. Today we will learn forward momentum. Momentum: A function of mass and velocity. Is conceald between portals... in laymans terms, speedy thing comes in, speedy thing comes out.'' (Later...) GLaDOS:''Good job student, and remember, student hell is a real place you will go at the first sign of defliance'''