Over the past several decades, video game oriented classes and majors have slowly entered college curriculum, but Texas A&M University has taken these forays into video game education one step further. For the first time, the University has introduced a course taught via video game, where the game is the college course.
The game is called World of the Medici (or alternatively known as Arte Mecanas) and counts as a course in Art History. Created by the university’s Department of Visualization and the development company Tritium, it teaches students by allowing them to interact with art and architecture from the 14th and 15th century. However, it is not just a stock click-to-learn game. Players can only progress through levels by answering questions about art and architecture as if they were members of the Medici family looking for a purchase/commission. Though completion of the game earns credit for the class, students are also required to attend several supplemental in-class lectures.
This is the first of nine interactive courses that the university is developing, and according to Andre Thomas, who partnered with the university to create the game, over 200 other colleges have expressed interest in adopting similar games for their curriculum.
This demonstrates a shift in academic attitudes. For the most part, academia does not take video games or intellectual discussions about them very seriously. The fact that a video game will be used as a vessel to teach academics is a massive change in thinking and perhaps signals that video games do have a future in academic discourse and learning environments. There are certainly classes everyone takes in high school or college which are so long and boring that most of the information goes in one ear and out the other. By utilizing video games, professors are allowing all students to actively engage with the subject material. A video game may still bore some class members, but by presenting educational topics through interactive choices and media more information will be retained by students.