Before lunch the second day of FDG Magy Seif El-Nasr held the Working Group Meeting: Towards Acknowledging the Diversity of Game Research Methodologies. These were our starting points:
We gathered in groups and presented what research we were doing, and what methods we were using. In our group this took 20 minutes of the 30 we had. It was diverse of course, our methods. The discussion concluded in that we need to continue the discussion, and that we, as David Gibson put it, need a sustained workgroup in methods.
This is important. It’s easy to become reactive when looking at other people’s methods and research. I for one, when I started my PHD, thought that I would build experimental prototypes, and build AI solutions that according to principles from authoring and inspired from psychology, specifically behavior related fields. Well, one would think that using methods from computing science, social science theory and humanities would be quite a lot to start with. But during the past three years this has proved to not be enough at all: No way will a paper be accepted unless there is a study of the prototype using methods from the HCI field. At least it has been so in the venues where I have gone. I don’t think this is bad, on the contrary, it is a good way of finding knowledge. It could also be a sign of that it is difficult to quantify results in other ways. And this area being comparatively young, there is a need to be sure of one’s legitimacy. It can give a sense of safety to add a bar chart and point at data underlying it. But we all know that there are results not that easily quantified that are still good research. I would like to see this problematised more for our specific field. If we need to clutch our teddy bears of bar charts, then let it be so. There is nothing wrong with transitional objects.
In the group discussion someone noted that even Jesper Juul has started to use quantative methods, whereupon Jesper merrily exclaimed: "I'm a reformed formalist!"
Luckily for us, Magy is going to put together a wiki on game research methodologies, and I expect that this can lead to interesting and necessary discussions.