Hairpins and Cockpits: Developer Behaviours Driving Game Concept Production.

Potanin, Robyn-Ann (2016) Hairpins and Cockpits: Developer Behaviours Driving Game Concept Production. Doctoral thesis, University of the Arts London and Falmouth University.

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Abstract / Summary

How does developer behaviour affect game concept production and how can we use it to more effectively generate games? Hairpins and Cockpits is unique in addressing this research question in that it investigates gender, personality and playstyle representation in the games development workplace. Understanding the behavioural culture of an industry may shed light on its culture of production. Less than 10% of men and at least 44% of women have reported experiencing behavioural and verbal ‘micro-aggressions’ in the game production workplace (IGDA 2016:29). Making games is a hostile experience, particularly for women, and we need to understand why.

Hairpins and Cockpits investigates game authorship from the perspective of the producer as a player and co-creator. The development cycle during the concept documentation phase from idea generation to prototype or ‘Alpha’ is explained in depth as are the hidden cultural impacts of marketing and workplace practices. Supported by literature reviews and narrative and ludological research, this thesis relies on autoethnographic methodologies such as self-surveys, interviews, video observations and anecdotal experiences to shed light on the team dynamics and developer behavioural patterns of game development.

The thesis focuses on two game development teams making racing/driving games. Why the racing genre? Racing games provide the most demographically democratic opportunity for gameplay. They offer “a ubiquitous baseline understanding of ‘how to play the game’” (Jensen 2005). It is a baseline that crosses gender, age and western culture, but not personality as we discover in this thesis. The racing genre is the blank canvas on which to study personalities in game development. The insight gained in the concept production of one game genre can be applied to the development of other game genres.

Why include personality profiling? Research focussing on software engineering teams by the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom and women game developers by the Sorbonne University in France have used Myers-Briggs Typology Profiling (MBTI). By using the same methodology with game development teams in the Netherlands, the personality typologies discussed in this thesis can be compared to the personality typologies in the other studies to better gain an impression of behavioural patterns in a production industry dominated by men and Introversion-Intuition-Thinking-Judging personality traits.

Hairpins and Cockpits demonstrates personality and gender diversity or heterogeneity in game development coincides with disruptive communication spurring greater productivity, expanded game content and innovative product appealing to a broad target audience. The homogeneous team favoured ‘siloed’ sub-groups that produced high-quality work, hostile unproductive communication, a substantial amount of discarded content and missed delivery deadlines to create a product with limited audience appeal.

The Feeling trait is over-represented in women game developers compared to men game developers which may account for why women are under-represented in the games industry. Passion keeps both men and women employed in the games industry despite the hostile environment of production – a hostility that people with the Feeling trait may be more sensitive to. Socially engineering game development teams for behavioural as well as gender diversity may increase retention of minorities, decrease hostility and increase productivity and innovation.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Video games Video games industry Gender
Subjects: Technology > Digital Works > Digital Games
Social Sciences
Depositing User: Lucy Seale
Date Deposited: 03 Dec 2018 11:06
Last Modified: 11 Nov 2022 16:28


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