Wabash College Students Required to Play PortalBy Jared Newman
Behold, the benefits of having someone on the inside. Michael Abbott is a theater professor at Wabash College in Indiana, but he’s also slightly Internet-famous for his game theory blog, The Brainy Gamer. So when the Wabash faculty was developing an all-college course entitled “Enduring Questions,” Abbott saw an opportunity. He convinced his fellow professors to make Portal part of the syllabus in a class that all students must take to graduate.
Abbott liked Portal for the syllabus because it addresses one of the course’s central questions, “Who Am I?” Like Erving Goffman’s book, ”The Preservation of Self in Everyday Life,” Portal tackles the issue of perception through an elaborate stage that is ultimately exposed as a fraud. “This tension between backstage machination and onstage performance is precisely what Portal depicts so perfectly – and, no small detail, so interactively,” Abbott writes.
Wabash’s other professors liked the idea, and after playing the game themselves, they seemed to get the themes Abbott was going for. The only problem is logistics — hardware, installation, licensing. For that reason, Portal won’t be taught by every professor this semester, but everyone who’s signed up with Abbott and a few other professors will be required to play. “I don’t want our first college-wide experience with a game to be plagued with problems,” Abbott wrote. [Brainy Gamer via 1UP (Thanks Grob!)]