Playing Portal: Best. Homework. Ever.

Geek Culture

Image © Valve Corporation

If you’re worried your kid may be heading off to college with the intention of just playing video games all day, your suspicions may be proven right – and not to be such a problem. They’ll just be doing their homework!

Wabash College, a small liberal arts college in Indiana, decided to try something new this year with a course entitled “Enduring Questions:”

Enduring Questions is a required freshman seminar offered during the spring semester. It is devoted to engaging students with fundamental questions of humanity from multiple perspectives and fostering a sense of community. Each section of the course includes a small group (approximately 15) of students who consider together classic and contemporary works from multiple disciplines. In so doing, students confront what it means to be human and how we understand ourselves, our relationships, and our world.

In setting up the course, faculty member Michael Abbott, who also blogs as The Brainy Gamer, suggested Portal might just fit the bill as a contemporary entry point into those very questions. After taking his colleagues through the game, they wholeheartedly agreed, and this fall entering freshmen will, along side copies of Hamlet and the Tao Te Ching, find copies of Portal in their book bags and homework assignments requiring them to determine the truth, or un-truth, of the cake.

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