Dr. Steve Holmes

Assistant Professor of English

George Mason University - Fairfax, VA

This English professor’s “got game” and is teaching his students how to communicate effectively through theirs.

A new medium

Dr. Holmes teaches courses in advanced writing, composition theory, and new media and digital rhetorics at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. He sees videogames as an important new medium for communication, just as television was a generation ago, and sees GameSalad as an important tool for empowering content creators to get their message across. And with young adults now spending more time each week playing games than they do watching television, understanding how to harness that medium is more important than ever.

Steve has taught GameSalad through a variety of different approaches, including remediation assignments, developing “persuasive games” (Bogost) and recreating classic games to espouse a different political message.

It is the easy user-interface and the collaborative design community that makes GameSalad ideally suited for writing pedagogy and humanities classrooms in general where we have very little time to devote to coding skills and training.

He is such a believer in the prominence of gaming as a communication medium that he delivered a presentation at the 2012 College Conference on Communication and Composition focusing on the use of GameSalad in multimodal pedagogy, entitled “Composing with Koopa-Troopers: GameSalad in First-Year Writing Curricula.”

Empowering authors and creators

The more Dr. Holmes researched gaming as a important medium for a variety of rhetoric, the more he realized the need for a tool that could help content creators focus more on their message and less on the technical minutiae of engineering it.

Dr. Holmes was able to deploy GameSalad very quickly into a variety of English classes that focused on multimodal and digital communication, but that were not necessarily designed for technically-oriented students. For example, one course Dr. Holmes taught as a graduate assistant focused on writing for the health disciplines. As Dr. Holmes put it, GameSalad made videogame production “as simple as video-editing in Apple’s iMovie.”

Said Holmes, “I have found GameSalad to be particularly useful throughout a variety of undergraduate learning contexts in first-year and advanced writing, and digital rhetoric courses. GameSalad’s user-friendly interface requires no coding knowledge and offers an easy entry point for students to participate in game design as a compositional method.”

“GameSalad’s collaborative design community offers the opportunity for students to learn from and remix parts of existing creations to help inform their own designs. As a rich digital writing ecology, GameSalad also offers simple methods of sharing and circulating students’ finished projects.“

Empowering authors and creators

Creatives in any medium benefit from communities that foster collaboration, criticism, discovery and professional growth, and game development is no exception.

Dr. Holmes knew that despite the ease with which GameSalad enables creators to realize their ideas into a game, one of the best ways for content creators to develop more sophisticated presentation methodologies in a new medium is to learn from what others are doing, to collaborate, iterate, and “remix”.

GameSalad’s thriving community provides a wealth of resources to newcomers and veterans alike, and the HTML5-powered GameSalad Arcade affords users the ability to share almost anything they can create as simply as one would share a YouTube link.

By teaching students how to convey their message across dynamic new mediums, Dr. Steve Holmes is empowering an entirely new generation of content creators who will use the gaming medium as their canvas.