Course Credit for Playing Video Games at Berkeley

Starcraft gaming syllabus includes lab time, Sun Tzu's "Art of War"

By Jackson West
|  Friday, Jan 30, 2009  |  Updated 9:48 AM PDT
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Course Credit for Playing Video Games at Berkeley

Studio MPM

Cal class has students playing video games as homework.

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Enterprising video game enthusiast and student at the University of California, Berkeley Alan Feng has created a course in "the art of competitive Starcraft" through the school's Democratic Education in Cal program.

Those taking the course are expected to play at least five hours of the game a week during lab time and read books like Sun Tzu's seminal treatise on strategy and tactics, The Art of War.

Starcraft, produced by California game publisher Blizzard Entertainment, pits rival players against each other in a futuristic space environment where they must gather resources, build technology and battle units while stopping a rival player from doing the same.

The game is especially popular in South Korea, where professional players earn sponsorships and compete in televised tournaments complete with cheering fans.

The course is not just an excuse to goof off and play games — according to the course description, "Calculus and Differential Equations are highly recommended for full understanding of the course."

Students will have weekly homework assignments and will be expected to present a final project.

Video games have become a multi-billion dollar industry, rivaling and even surpassing the Hollywood film industry as an entertainment business.

Game publisher Electronic Arts, based in Redwood City, reported $3.65 billion in revenue during their last full fiscal year ending in March of 2008.

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