An ethnographic study of collaboration in a game development team

Tran, Minh Q. and Biddle, Robert (2009). An ethnographic study of collaboration in a game development team. Loading..., 3(5) article no. 70.



This paper presents an ethnographically-informed study of the practices at a game company that develops serious games for business training. Games research focuses mainly on the game product, paying little attention to the design and development process. This study attempts to address this gap. We examined the day-to-day activity of a team responsible for designing and developing game content. Our data collection methods were informed by ethnography; they include field observations, contextual interviews and audio recordings. A thematic analysis was performed on transcripts of naturally occurring conversation within the team. The results were triangulated with field notes and interview data. The result is a description of collaborative activity within a game development team, and an interpretation of how the socio-technical environment supported the game development process. This study suggests innovative game design can be supported by creating a culture of collaboration, but innovation from teams is largely dependent on the quality of the interpersonal relationships.

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