Monday, October 10, 2005

methods in game research

Looking at game research as a research field, what methods are used?

What types of claims are made?
Conceptual/practical? Other types?

What types of reasons are provided to support the claims made?

What type of evidence is used to support the reasons and the claims?

I see that especially the types of evidences used differ between researchers as individuals depending on what field they come from when entering the field of game research.

To take myself as an example I'm trained in humanities. I tend to, if i don't reflect over my method, to go back to that one. I use quotations, anecdotes etc. Since i also have a training in behavior science i sometimes lean to statistics and to fine grained descriptions of behavior, and sometimes statistical summaries of behavior. Having spent some time in the field of computing science i also lean towards types of claims that are more practical, i.e. focused on finding methods for solving problems, while what I'm trained in is to make more conceptual types of claims. And I have this constant feeling of knowing too little.

I can see that my fellow researches do something similar. Craig Lindley for instance tends to use networks of principles, inferences and implications that sometimes are independent of factual data - as in philosophy. It is either that or the computing science type of claims, if there is time to base the results in evidence from practical implementations and tests of the results of the implementations.

I see that researchers like TL Taylor and Nick Yee basically adopts the methods from sociology and anthropology while researchers such as Nicholas Rajava lean on quantitative data gathered in laboratory experiments.

The DIGRA conference in Vancouver this summer was a terrific expose of different kinds of methods for supporting reasons with evidence.

It is not uncommon that researchers in the game research field make sure to publish in venues of other disciplines as well in order to get validations from other sources.

For my own sake i realize the importance of finding the "right" way of supporting my claims, depending on the current claim. Of course - this is so obvious that its almost ridiculous. But still. No matter how obvious it might seem i think i will revisit my research plan. What if i overlooked something? What if i took something for granted which is not?

This spring we will organize a PhD course at Gotland University where we look at research methods specifically from the point of view of the game research field. I guess we need to take one step at a time and try to be as brave as we can.

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