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When World of Warcraft Meets College Culture

We’re back, and classes start today for my last semester. So while we’re on the topic, let’s talk about World of Warcraft culture in college.

Just last week, PC World posted an article on whether World of Warcraft could be a college class. It cites the economic practices that appear to come into play in the game. While I don’t doubt that there is some theory that can come out of such an economics class, some factors make it difficult to really understand the inner workings of the community. For one, there lacks any real-time tracking method for transactions made among players.

Although World of Warcraft can be made into course content, I believe it shouldn’t. From a student’s perspective, such a class would have little to no direction. The experiment itself risks compromise if the people who enroll are players who believe they will get an easy ‘A’ out of the class just because they play. In fact, the one sentence that bothers me the most in this article is this:

After all, it’s a chance to legitimize all that time you’re planning to spend holed up in your dorm slaughtering Bloodfen Scytheclaws and Ragged Young Wolves and launching company-sized all-nighter raids…

Back in May 2006, MapWoW listed the top .edu domain addresses that visited the site. Although the number of subscriptions back then was only a bit more than half the number of subscriptions today, the listing provided a snapshot of how the culture of each university impacted students playing the World of Warcraft. My own university was listed 22nd in this survey. Truthfully, I’m surprised at the number of big name schools on the list. What is evident from the list is that each university has its own environment that either promotes and hinders the players’ ability to play regularly.

If an academic is seriously considering an endeavor like this, it should only be done at a campus that has a conducive environment. It is not as simple as introducing a course with planned materials. One must also understand the experiment from the points-of-view of those who will be taking the course, be it players or non-players.

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4 responses

  1. Heh, my school was 83rd, but UChicago is tiny compared to the state schools, and only popular amongst the Big Name schools to people that know about us (curse our non-east-coast location!).

    UChicago did have a video game class last year covering the more philosophical and humanistic aspects of games such as WoW, Half-life, etc. I didn’t have time in my schedule to take it, and the professor wouldn’t let students audit it, so I could only hear from a friend that it was a rather intense course, definitely not something that would allow you to just game all day.

    19 January 2009 at 13:55

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  3. It’s an interesting Idea…

    But if there’s one thing that would make this incredibly different than real life, ti would be this:

    Although the necessary stuff can fluctuate in price, the stuff you need in order to work properly (I.E, reagents, arrows…) stay the same. Living costs stay the same no matter what.

    I’m not sure how big a deal that would be in that class.

    19 January 2009 at 17:09

  4. Pingback: When World of Warcraft Meets College Culture | World Of Warcraft News

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