Since the founding of William & Mary
, Americans have struggled to balance their desire to play video games and practice using the Force with the need to obtain a higher education.
However, the travails of history (and chemistry, and geometry, etc., etc.) no longer oppress students these days, as the rise of both pop culture studies and student-led courses have spawned classes that in years past would have been relegated to dorm-room distractions.
Asylum scoured legitimate universities -- no Greendale Community College
here -- across the English-speaking world to find courses that would make underwater basket-weaving seem like a useful trade.
5. 21st Century Skills in "StarCraft," University of Florida
Everyone can agree that, according to this course's official description, it's "important for professionals to be highly proficient in skills such as critical thinking, problem solving, resource management and adaptive decision making.
" Apparently in Florida this semester
, they've determined that one of the better ways to gain those abilities is to play a crapload of "StarCraft
We're all for this, in theory. Any chance to play real-time strategy games
is A-OK with us. Though we have to question if the talent one displays for in-game resource management properly translates to an offline experience, given how every time we sit down to play "StarCraft," we end up eating an entire tube of Pringles, rather than saving some in the event of a Zerg attack or something.
Keep reading to learn about "Guitar Hero" classes, Jedi training and Bat-Theory 101.
4. Guitar Heroes (and Heroines): Music, Video Games and the Nature of Human Cognition, New York University
The headline-grabbing class of 2009, this "Guitar Hero'" course is at NYU's Game Center
-- which itself sounds like the most awesome use of tuition dollars ever. It was rubber-stamped because "'Guitar Hero" is a good tool for teaching," the psychology professor behind the course, Gary Marcus, told the New York Post last year
, "and I'm interested in learning."
If that sounds kind of flimsy to you, you're not alone. Parents were in an uproar too. "I just wrote a big check here," one complained to the Post. "I'm not paying for [my son] to study video games." Apparently you are, Dad.
3. Feel the Force: How to Train in the Jedi Way, Queen's University Belfast, Northern Ireland
We suppose it's inevitable that in a country where almost 400,000 people claim "Jedi" as their religion on the census
(and a Jedi serves in Parliament
), training as a Jedi Knight would be something one could study as part of the "open learning" program at Queen's University Belfast
during the 2008–09 school year.
The aim of the course was to teach "the real-life psychological techniques behind Jedi mind tricks," which sounds super-productive. We can only hope no authorities found the droids they were looking for in Scotland that semester.
2. Game Theory: Applications to "StarCraft," University of California at Berkeley
"StarCraft"'s popularity as a national sport in Korea is well-documented, but who knew that it had such a significant following in the U.S. to warrant a college-level course on each coast?
Where the current University of Florida class focuses on what life skills one can pick up by playing the game, the objective of the 2009, student-led Berkeley course
was to teach students to better enjoy "the art of competitive 'StarCraft.'" (Our tip? Pringles.)
Part of that was the requisite gussying-up of the concept of intellectual trappings; the syllabus included Sun Tzu's "The Art of War
" and Korean "StarCraft" celebrity Lim Yo-hwan's autobiography, "Crazy As Me," as well as 90-minute lectures
. The other part? Sitting at a computer and playing "StarCraft" for hours on end.
1. The Cape and the Cowl: The Literary, Televised and Film History of Batman, Rice University
While not as hands-on as the previous entries -- the course featured no Batarang-throwing practice or Bat Shark Repellent
efficacy tests -- undergraduates in Rice's 2009 student-led Batman class
did burn lean tissue studying "the necessity of the Joker," as well as "the viability of the Bat-family."
By the end of the course, students were expected to understand "that Batman isn't just a crazed brute tormenting his victims out of nihilistic hatred." That actually makes this class sound kind of like a big waste of time, as anyone who's read "Batman: Year One" knows that he was just trying to make the streets of Gotham safe outside of a corrupt police department.
they teaching kids in college these days?
Let us know in the comments: What's the nerdiest college course you've ever taken?