According to Starcraft Wire, Berkeley is giving students a chance to earn college credit by playing Starcraft.
From the course description:
What may look like complex topics are just ways we want you to think more deeply about the game to derive a greater satisfaction from playing. Furthermore, this understanding should have applications in real life, to further synthesize new information from limited inferences. The primary goal is for students to learn, enjoy the art of competitive StarCraft, and have fun. Overall, students will be applying critical thinking, quick decision-making, and game theory skills throughout the sessions. Students will also learn what to look for in a replay or game to learn most effectively.
I don’t buy it. At least not as anything serious.
First, look at the syllabus. This outline meets none of the standards for a basic university syllabus, though Berkeley’s are, admittedly, a little lacking in the usual syllabus matter. There’s not even a course number yet.
It’s not listed anywhere on the Berkeley website. Neither is Mr. Feng. That’s because this is apparently a DeCal course – a student initiated class in Berkeley’s democratic, alternative education program. There are also classes listed in playing outside, Firefly, and Chinese for restaurants. The Starcraft course is nowhere on the official DeCal list, though.
And there are limitations on the DeCal’s utility for students. “DeCals do not count towards any degree requirements.” The credits may count, but only as electives.
There’s nothing wrong with this sort of thing, I suppose, and it may be news to the Starcraft community. But I figured I would puncture this bubble before anyone else decided to pick up this non-story. This is not some great victory for games in academia – it’s a guy who got the business school to sponsor people talking about his hobby.
EDIT: Gamespy is claiming that, even if this is a light student led thing, that “we could be witnessing one of the first efforts to bring the study of video games into the upper echelons of academia.”
This is so far from being “one of the first” that it’s ridiculous. Berkeley has game design courses already. Stanford has had game themed courses. NYU, too. All taught by full time faculty. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were five or six game themed university courses in my Metro area. This Starcraft class is on the leading edge of zilch.