Methods Example: Interview Study

Assessing the Need for a Reference Database for Videogame Research

Purpose: Given the growing influence of videogames and the likelihood that videogames will be the focus of an increasing amount of criticism and research, the Game Scholar project sought to determine what aspects of videogames might be included to develop a comprehensive information resource on the topic that would be of significant value to the scholarly community. This interview study was intended to gather qualitative data to augment an environmental scan and a content analysis study on the same topic.

Method: We conducted ten 60-90 minute semi-structured interviews with people who work, teach, or do research related to videogames, ranging from faculty and staff researchers to video game company employees. The objective of these interviews was to better understand how these people accomplish their work, what information resources they currently use, and what ideas they might have for additional resources useful for their work. A functional prototype was used in the interviews to prompt ideas and solicit feedback from the participants.

Results: Major findings included a clear interest in a scholarly, comprehensive resource for videogames; a desire to rapidly find games according to primary characteristics such as genre, publisher, and publication date; semantic tagging to enable searching for games by less obvious characteristics; a network analysis tool to show games that are related in different ways; and images and video clips that illustrate the evolution of specific characters and games over time. Most interviewees would use the proposed resource on a regular basis if it was comprehensive enough, and about half would use the resource for communicating and collaborating with other users if there were features that enabled them to do so.

My Role: I led a small team of students on this project, defining the overall research approach, the methods used, and the majority of the specific research protocol and interview questions. I managed the interview transcription process, analyzed the interview data, wrote the conference publication, and designed, developed, and presented the conference poster.

Related Information

Geisler, G., Stenis, P., Martinez, J., & King, A. (2008). Game Scholar: Do we need a reference database for video game research? [poster]. In Proceedings of the 71st Annual Meeting of the American Society for Information Science and Technology (ASIS&T 2008), 465-469.
Feinberg, M., Geisler, G., Whitworth, E., & Clark, E. (2012). Understanding Personal Digital Collections: An Interdisciplinary Exploration. In Proceedings of the ACM Conference on Designing Interactive Systems (DIS 2012), 200-209.

Other Interview Studies

Digital Repository Needs of Cultural Heritage Institutions
As part of a small team, we interviewed 55 people, representing 46 different institutions, to better understand the digital collections their institutions manages and the digital repositories that hold those collections. We used a content analysis tool to collaboratively code a total of 1258 interview passages.
Facilitating the Design of Personal Digital Collections
As part of a project exploring how to help people create more expressive personal digital collections, we asked 12 participants to complete collection creation and description tasks with a digital video library and conducted qualitative interviews to better understand their attitudes towards and experiences with creating digital collections.