Monday, November 8, 2010

A New Hope Part 2: The Hopening

OK, it's go time, again. The case study at this stage has been scrapped. This will require a re-write of the methods chapter. It's around 4000 words or so, therefore it shouldn't be too taxing. Since I am effectively replacing the case study with a far more detailed quantitative study, I need to explore literature and guides on how to a) acquire the data, though a survey seems the most appropriate, b) how to analyse the data once I have it (so that is it not only coherent but of use to the stakeholders) and c) how to broach the subject with developers in a way that expresses the value they will potentially derive from this data and how to organize a system so that the data collection is ongoing. I'll need to look at how organizations (such as EEDAR if we're being game dev specific) gather their data and package it.

The trick is discerning which topics to collect data on; age, education, experience, etc. These obvious ones are all well and good, but I need to determine what is going to be of use to industry. This will require some discussion, quite probably during the interview process. I need to be able to gather the data probably by mid year, then spend probably 2 months analysing it. Following that, hopefully the results will bear out on two fronts; one, the interviews should provide enough fodder on the issues of GDE that I can put together recommendations for how to approach building a games course, the importance of internships and real world experience, the need for a more structured approach to education and industry interaction, the value of teamwork and soft skill and the absolute need for a well rounded skill set. This research is the exploratory part.

The quant part is the more practical, immediately useful part. I need to outline what the data will be used for and how long it will before the data will be useful to educators. For example, it may take a year to gather data on not only existing developers but developers who join the industry in 12 months to get a better picture of where these developers are coming from. Regarding how the data will be used, a university games course chair might view the data and note that the majority of programmers new to industry (or within 5 years) all have a strong C++ background, so it would be logical to ensure that students of that course are adequately exposed to C++.

The interview process will still be vital, as a large part of this research is still exploratory.

So, a balance must be struck. The plan has been revised to ensure the outcomes have a greater practical purpose for stakeholders; while previously the data would be largely qualitative, the balance is now more evenly split. I need to knock together a few diagrams to illustrate this new direction for my own edification, then put together a schedule detailing what I'll be doing and when. Following that, I need to revise my methods chapter and educate myself on data analysis methods in place of the case study literature I previously included.

More to come.