The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life and playing Portal

Erving Goffman’s 1959 work The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life is a sociological classic. “Portal” is a video game that has received good reviews (90 out of 100 at MetaCritic.com). How could they fit together?

According to a story at Mashable.com, they are both part of some sections of a required Freshman course at Wabash College in Indiana:

The game will be part of a mandatory Freshman seminar called “Enduring Questions” that will explore “fundamental questions of humanity” through “classical and contemporary works.” A theater professor named Michael Abbott is among the faculty members designing the course.

Inspired by a game theory article drawing comparisons between Portal and Erving Goffman’s 1959 sociology text The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, Abbott nominated Portal as one of the works that students would be required to experience and discuss to pass the class.

He demonstrated the game for his non-gaming colleagues and was pleased to find that they appreciated and approved the plan to assign Goffman’s text and follow it up with “a collective playthrough of Portal.”

I haven’t played Portal but this sounds like an intriguing combination. I wonder how many college classes today include video games…

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