Game Research Methods
Finding and following a methods means finding a way. The original etymology of methodology conveys the same message: meta hodos in Ancient Greek meant following a path, as well as finding the way or means to achieve certain goal.
The methodological landscape of games research in some cases may appear as an undisturbed and untrodden terrain, devoid of any paths. In fresh and new research topics there might not be any previous models, set up by successful earlier research, that would provide step-by-step guidance on how to proceed. Trailblazing into unchartered territories is certainly an element in what has made contemporary game studies such an exiting and popular academic field today.
While the being the lone researcher who is the very first to conduct a study on a new game genre, play style, or form of game culture, for example, involves its fair share of innovation and openness towards the unique characteristics of the subject of study, science and scholarship in themselves are not isolated activities. Such key principles as verifiability of claims suggest that all true academic activity is deeply rooted in earlier practices of scholarly community, and closely related to the need of communicating results to other researchers. There are thinkers who advocate method anarchism, claiming that “anything goes” is as good, or perhaps even a better guideline than trying to follow some pre-set formulas to achieve significant scientific discoveries (critical views of Paul Feyerabend are a good example). But even radical breaks or paradigm shifts within science and scholarship are generally created with intimate knowledge about previous research, and its shortcomings. Similarly, Thomas Kuhn is famous for emphasising the role of scientific revolutions that cannot be produced within the regular, accumulative framework of normal science.
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