Session #2: Bringing the Qual into Quant with Games for Research

Friday, February 21, 2014
10:25am - 11:20am


With Professor Liesbet van Zoonen and Dr Georgina Turner of IMPRINTS Futures ( I was commissioned to design and develop 2 ResearchGames with my team at Research Through Gaming for their study on Identity Management tools for participants aged 18-65+ in the UK. As a social study, by and large these are deemed as a chore to do for many research participants. However, our ResearchGames were so impactful to the respondents, that many of them left us extremely positive feedback on how engaged they were, and likely to do take part in more ResearchGames.

In this presentation, I'll be exploring how Games for Research (or ResearchGames) bring the qual into quant work, where respondents are able to air their opinions through typically more open-ended questions than a traditional online surveys, in ways that didn't feel like hard work, but was fun for them to do and, by the admission of many of our respondents, became an enjoyable and "thought-provoking experience".

An interesting finding in our work was that 21% of respondents took part in a completely optional diary study at the end of one of the ResearchGames with quality insights and descriptions of a 'day in their life in 2030'. The use of Games can evoke specific emotions in participants, emotions required to the research objectives in order to get to the truth of how people think and feel, and what they will do. It is the evocation of emotion which is yet another way that the qualitative element is strongly brought into this online, quant method of ResearchGames where using virtual environments, music and sound effects, narrative and Avatars, can evoke feelings from 'stress' and 'anxiety' to 'relaxation' and 'reflection'.

So what is it about Games that can bring such a strong element of qual into quant work? This is what will be explored throughout this presentation.

About the ResearchGames: The two ResearchGames we created have been written about by our clients in two white papers where one of these is due for publication in the SAGE book of methods this year. The ResearchGames also featured at my clients exhibitions at both the Houses of Parliament and British Science Festival in London this year.