Touching on Methods

Posted on February 10, 2008, 6:26 pm, by Elizabeth LaPensée, under Methods, RESOURCES.

In my own research, I am designing Indigenous games and exploring the process and results of these designs. Game mechanics are emphasized, posing: What mechanics would be unique to an Indigenous game design? The motivating question for me is: how can video games be used for Indigenous sovereignty?

Brenda Laurel’s compilation in Design Methods gives several perspectives on possible design methods, which I’m starting to see as tools and frameworks of research.

Christopher Ireland, in “Qualitative Methods: From Boring to Brilliant,” breaks down numerous possibilities:

Focus groups: traditional, mini focus group, 1-on-1 interviews, dyads, super groups, triads, party groups, online discussion groups

Ethnography: field, digital, photo, ethnofuturism, “real world” enactments, personas

Participatory: development panel, in-home placement

To his Participatory section, I’d add workshops, where community members (or in an industry situation, the target audience) are brought together for participating in the design process during interactive hands-on workshops with prototyping materials relevant to the concept of the project.

Since my research is encapsulated in case studies to derive a holistic viewpoint on the projects, I believe I will employ almost all of these methods, except for ethnography in great depth. I am hesitant to fall into traps of “researcher” and “researched subject.” Ethnographies of our players may be helpful, done in field, digital, and photo form, but otherwise these strategies are too prone to creating a hierarchy. Tim Plowman references Geertz in “Ethnography and Critical Design Practice,” and although Geertz was a colorful and engaging writer, that was really the trick of his research. He also creates a story of “emerging” research although of course went there with an intent of analyzing a culture through its play practices with cockfighting. Further, he entirely ignores gender issues although his wife was mentioned in the start of his story. Where’s her paper?

Researchers all have bias, regardless of how they present the situation. I am very much in support of Action Research, and realize then that I do have a bias that needs to be recognized throughout the case studies.

Overall, the case studies will each follow the story of the process of Inception of Idea, Prototyping, Production, and Validation/Playtesting. This is heavily rooted in iterative design, as described in Eric Zimmerman’ “Play as Research.” Design, test, analyze, repeat. As much as I am researcher and participant, I am also designer and player. It creates an interesting parallel to track during research and design.

Ultimately, one possible outcome of this research is exploring a uniquely Indigenous design method that becomes visible during the process of designing and developing games with Indigenous peoples. I plan to combine methods such as these with methodologies in Decolonizing Methodologies.

PDF| Comment (RSS)
blog comments powered by Disqus