AUSTIN RUDICEL ’20 | STAFF WRITER • The Wabash curriculum is constantly adapting to study new fields that become prominent in today’s soci- ety. One of these topics, the study of video games, started to rise in popular- ity with multiple professors teaching classes that address different aspects of video games. In these particular classes, students purchase video games instead of textbooks and instead of reading stories, they play through storylines of games. In an attempt to make these classes more accessible for students, Wabash created a video game lab that allows students to play games required for a class, or just for fun.
The video game lab, located in the basement of the library near the vinyl section, is brand new and available for all students to use; however, priority is given to students who require it for a class. Professor of Theater Michael S. Abbott teaches THE-208 Games and Interactive Media, a course where students study video game design by reading about, and play video games. Abbott, a big gamer himself, sees the video game lab as an opportunity for students who do not have access to a video game console to be able to
take these classes and learn about the artform without the financial burden of individually purchasing consoles and the games that go along with them.
“Video games are a channel of communication and an art form,” Abbott said. “Having a lab for students to use shows that video games [is] a legitimate, viable study.” With a Digital Arts and Human Values Grant from the Mellon Foundation, Wabash purchased a PlayStation 4 and gaming PC for the video game lab so students may access a variety of games across different platforms. Students are also welcome to
use their own device for the lab.
This semester, Eric Freeze, Associate Professor of English, is teaching a special topics course, ENG 210, Writing for Video Games, where students study how people write the storylines of video game stories and present them in a game. The video game lab is beneficial to more than just students as Freeze does not own a console and uses the lab to play some of the games for the course. Although Freeze is not label himself as a gamer, he understands and values the ability video games have to tell elaborate and interactive stories and the skills required to create games such as these.
“The level of writing in video games develop good writers,” Freeze said. Freeze enlisted the assistance of Logan Taylor ‘18 as a TA for this course and help design the syllabus as Taylor is well-versed in video games and has experience as a TA for Matthew Carlson, BKT Assistant Professor of Philosophy, for PHI 109 Perspectives on Philosophy, a course that focused on answering philosophical questions that were raised by video games.
To use the video game lab, students check in with the front desk and after signing in, will be given the keys to unlock the cabinet in the basement where the equipment is stored. Students are welcome to use the lab as long as the library is open and the lab
is not reserved by a class or student given priority. Although the lab is in its infancy, plans for the future include a physical disk library where students will be able to rent games similar to how they can rent films. Other plans include to have couches and furniture for the lab so students can play games in comfort instead of in the firm, wooden chairs currently being used for the lab.