Research as design : design as research

  • Stapleton A
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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.

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  • Andrew J. Stapleton

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