“Portal” in the Classroom

Soooo, ummmm, yeah…there’s a professor Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Indianna that’s put the original “Portal” on his class syllabus for a course entitled, “Enduring Questions”.

Says Professor Michael Abbott:

“This is a course about what it means to be human, focused on some of the enduring questions our existence inevitably raises for us. The goals of this course reflect this focus.”

Prior to playing and discussing Portal, Abbott set the stage with Dr. Erving Goffman’s A Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, wherein Goffman dissects our desire to present different versions of ourselves, showing one (our public face), while hiding a very different one (our private one). It’s a facet of villainess GLaDOS, a bit that’s especially elaborated on during the events of Portal 2, but one very much part of the original.

“She’s got her forestage and she’s got her backstage, the stuff she doesn’t want you to see,” he said. “The game does an amazing job of slowly peeling back her veneer, and the stuff she doesn’t want you to see or know is so slowly revealed. Those students started to exchange stories about what they saw behind the scenes or writing on the walls, little stuff they would find, little artifacts. That really provoked a lot of interesting connections between the Goffman text and GLaDOS as a character, as a personality, and the way that the environment is an extension of her and her personality. That really clicked.”

This is better than that time I was obligated to watch all those films on the Vietnam War for that one English class of mine in university (Professor Leonard FTW).

[Full story over at Giant Bomb]

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