Originally published in “Notes of Excellence” newsletter, issue 011 – November 2013.
Seth Hudson is the Assistant Director of the Computer Game Design Program in the College of Visual and Performing Arts. He joined the Mason faculty in 2011, teaching the program’s upper-level writing-intensive course, Story Design for Computer Games (which was also designated as an OSCAR Research & Scholarship (RS) Intensive course), and serving as GAME’s internship coordinator as well as chief academic advisor. Seth’s academic background is in English and Comparative Literature, with an emphasis on playwriting and non-linear storytelling.
What is the most innovative thing you do with your students and/or your classes? Why do you think it is effective?
Although our focus is writing for games, and best practices in academic and creative writing generally, students are asked to present their work in a context that focuses on their individual goals. Some wish to be writers, while others are keen to focus on what makes a well-designed story; I try and create avenues for those and other individual interests.
What do you do that creates a strong learning environment for your students?
We begin with criticism and analysis of exemplars from games and other media, but then focus on our own work. Be it dread or delight, the author becomes an audience member with 25 other students hanging on every word. Regardless of previous notions of their abilities, the students see their words come to life—instead of discussing North By Northwest, we now spend our time considering “2-Character Scene: Draft One.” This, hopefully, empowers students and allows them confidence moving forward.
What’s one tip that you would offer to faculty new to teaching at Mason?
Simplicity is best. A focus on student learning outcomes should drive everything. We all have ambitious ideas. Sometimes the wildest exercises prove the most effective, but helping students understand their craft should never be lost.
What’s the most challenging thing for you in your teaching, and how do you address this challenge?
Time. In an ideal world, classes would be smaller and students would have more free time for office hours. As that is not always the case, using electronic tools like Blackboard and others can keep the conversations going. I even find that many students participate with greater frequency and detail in these settings.