Monday, June 20, 2011

Computer games as a lens on higher education policy

Trying out the Facebook app "global warfare", it seems that a player can equip his town with various facilities, one of which is a university. Of course, my own biases being how they are, I promptly acquire one and proceed to spend all my resources on upgrading it (which is not something that usually happens in real life, but computer games are there to allow players to indulge their fantasies). Anyway, given a university, a player can then click on "research" and select from a list of topics to devote one's (virtual) academic efforts. Unfortunately, "computational complexity" was not on the list. Instead, I settled for "drilling", which when completed, causes your oil production to increase by 10%. This helps to make sense of the various calls for proposals that emanate from EPSRC; I have a vivid vision of our political leaders clicking on topics like "construction" or "military science" in an effort to obtain a quick reward. Maybe next time I will select "espionage" which could perhaps lead to cryptography, and thence to computational complexity.

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