segunda-feira, 15 de junho de 2015

A qualitative approach for gaming research

As a game designer, I always try to understand methods and practices that can help me in the developing process of a ludic interface. The iterative design - based on creating, testing, modifying and recreating until reaching an error-free product - is a methodological approach that allows excellent hybridizations with other research methods. In my last two projects, I tried to establish a qualitative interview during the iterative process with different players, to discover the potentialities and faults of my game.



Organizing a dialogue between different kinds of players is an inspirational key to open new passages in the game design process. Some feedbacks from players in interviews are fundamental guides to improve the game’s mechanics, dynamics, narrative and layout.

In this context, it’s always essential to remember that “videogames are fundamentally interactive, relying on communication between the player and their character, the player and the content, and even players with one another” and it’s crucial to ponder that “while games are developed in a studio, at least part of their meaning and significance is created at the moment of play and through the people who play them” (COTE; RAZ, p.93, 2015).

The qualitative method is one of many good ways to understand the creation of meaning and significance in a gaming interface. To conduct a quali interview, it’s necessary to have a good script with clear objects imbricated in the questions. Cote and Raz (2015, p.104) teach us how to write a very intuitive qualitative interview guide, adapted for a gaming universe:

1. Create an introductory script to open the interview and remind the study goals;
2. Warm-up questions to put the participant at ease and build rapport. Some examples that the authors use are “How long have you been playing videogames for?” and “What’s one of your favorite gaming memories?”
3. Substantive questions to collect deeper data that answers the research questions. This part is nuclear in the interview, here you will ask player’s feedbacks about gaming interface, mechanics and other aspects;
4. Demographic questions to gather data needed to describe participants in the final research report.

Applying qualitative process with iterative design is a great challenge for game designers. It requires more and more studies to generate better practices in our field. About this subject, I strongly recommend the second part of this Game Research Methods book.

#GoGamers



Reference:

COTE, Amanda; RAZ, Julia. In-depth interviews for game research. . IN: LANKOSKI, Petri; BJÖRK, Staffan (Eds.). Game research methods: an overview. Halifax: ETC Press, 2015. p.93-117.

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