Right off the bat, for those of you unfamiliar with Starcraft, it’s a real time strategy game developed by the same company that makes World of Warcraft. The gameplay is centralized around building up an army and defending your own base while at the same time taking over the hostile person on the other end of the screen. Oh, and it’s in space!
I’ve talked about the game a little bit before on here, in reference to video game addiction clinics in South Korea, because South Korea loves Starcraft, enough to have television shows devoted to it. In the USA however, that feeling has been somewhat watered down. It’s still loved, but we don’t treat the score leaders like national heroes. We do now, however, offer an honors degree in playing the game.
Yes, you read that right. University of Florida is offering an online course in Starcraft II, saying that it teaches important 21st century skills with it’s quick thinking; adapt-or-die gameplay. Now, while I haven’t seen a degree course this focused in on a single game, I myself have taken a course on the history of role-playing games.
What they managed to do in that 8-week period was actually fairly amazing, and I have no doubt that the same type of scenario exists in this new honors course. Sure it’s based in pop-culture and oozing with slacker all over it, but then again that’s exactly what I thought walking into a videogames course. It was only when I got into the class itself I realized it was more about how human behavior was being projected into a story, and how that type of story evolved with our cultural acceptance of a game as a new form of storytelling.
Which is why I find this particularly interesting, could we use things like this as a jumping off platform for a masters in popular culture? I know that the consulting world could definately put it to use, and if I could have majored in it, it would have been a split second decision yes from my current dual degree in art and writing.
And as out of the box as it seems, I think that pop culture is eventually going to finally find a true place in the education system. Right now entire research teams track down internet memes and even the CIA is getting in the mix by hiring professional and fluent “street lingo and ebonics” interpreters. And of course there’s the other standard, that pop culture changes every day. But nobody ever said that education stops when you graduate.