Research as Design-Design as Research

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This paper details a research methodology which enables inquiry into the activity of game design. The methodology, Research as Design-Design as Research (RADDAR) was successfully developed, legitimated, applied and ultimately evaluated, through thesis examination, as part of my doctoral study where I investigated relationships between game design and learning. The structure of the paper essentially follows the sequential progression of the methodology as it emerged during my inquiry. Issues such as legitimation, implementation, judgment criteria, and possible implications of the methodology for design are discussed. It is my view that presenting the methodology in terms of its progression, could assist others in developing a sense of the genesis and evolution of the methodology, recognize its evaluation criteria, and ultimately adopt RADDAR, as a form of interpretive inquiry, as a means for their own investigations into game design practice. The paper begins by first exploring notions of design and game design. In particular, I present a view of design that focuses on the activity of designing, rather than on the product. As a result, the methodology being sought is one which aims at inquiring into human action, rather than a means for analyzing products. By outlining the nature of design, a particular context for inquiry is defined, one which suggests particular types of data and knowledge that need to be included within design inquiry. The question, then, is to determine what form of inquiry best suits investigation into design practice. By drawing from a paper by Swann (1999), I present action research–a form of interpretive research–as being an appropriate methodology for inquiry into design practice. Further, by comparing the activity of designing with action research, I outline how design itself can be understood as a form of action research, along with the key features of such research. Fourth Generation Evaluation (Guba and Lincoln 1989), the methodology of constructivist inquiry, is presented as an appropriate research methodology that could enable inquiry into the activity of game design. Although it can be regarded as a ‘ready-to-use’ methodology in itself, I explain how I reconceptualized and modified fourth generation evaluation to become more sympathetic to the context of design activity. Further, I outline the evaluation criteria used to measure the quality of inquiry. A key moment in the evolution of the methodology was that of synthesis when the whole–the combination of the notion of design as research and fourth generation evaluation–became greater than the sum of the parts. During this time I came to understand design and research as entwined and inseparable, where research process has emergent design and the design process is one of research. This ultimately led to the term research as design-design as research and the acronym RADDAR. RADDAR, as a qualitative research methodology, is effectively an ‘open-source’ methodology as it allows for the inclusion of a variety of research methods, both qualitative and quantitative. Further, the methodology offers particular epistemological and ontological implications for design practice.
Contact: Andrew Stapleton, Swinburne University,
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