Sorry for the prolonged absence of updates. I took some time off over the holidays to spend with the family, and am still getting back into the swing of things. The honest truth is that as a result, there wasn’t much new to report. And then there was too much to report so I didn’t get a chance to post this blog even after writing it. That’s changed now, as I’m once again in full swing with the academic work.
So, what exactly is new? Well, firstly I think I’m finished with my exploration into the case study methodology mentioned in the last blog post. Having read a couple of books, and numerous articles, I am confident that it is the right method for me to use, and that I can justify why this is the case. Additionally, something I didn’t mention last time is that I hope to combine this method with the grounded theory methodology.
Grounded theory is, admittedly, a methodology with many different schools of thought, with the creators of the theory diverging in their approaches as the years have progressed. Part of my study over the past month has been educating myself on these various schools and attempting to determine if any suit the research that this site is dedicated to—and I have concluded that there is.
I plan to adopt a constructivist grounded theory approach. Admittedly, I am not familiar with the full breadth of constructivist theory when it comes to the philosophy behind it, but in the scope of grounded theory, it seems like a good fit.
For those unfamiliar, grounded theory is a methodology that believes in developing theory from the data that researchers have acquired. It’s an iterative loop between collecting data, using it to determine possible theoretical directions, and then basing further data collection on those directions. It’s particularly well suited to exploratory research and research that is not aiming to examine specific causal mechanisms, much like a case study approach.
Constructivist Grounded Theory is a specific subset of grounded theory which acknowledges the lack of objective truth and highlights the ways in which any theory resulting from the methodology is a co-creation of researchers and subjects. Results presented are not facts, but meanings and interpretations of the specific data that was recorded—data which is in turn influenced by the context it was collected. This is a fitting approach for our study which is aimed at understanding the personal perspectives of creators in order to create theory about the production processes of gaming podcasts.
“It’s about ethics (applications) in gaming podcast research”
So, with my methodology pretty secure, I’ve started turning towards the next step—actually doing the research. The first step in this is getting ethics approval, which is what I’ve been working on. Unfortunately, this isn’t a topic that makes for good blogging. A lot of questions, forms and restating of the methodology and frameworks that have spent the past year percolating in my brain before being transferred to the page. I anticipate this will take a few months to get approved, but hopefully I can have it completed and approved before my annual progress report in the middle of the year, so I can start my second year of study off with a bang.
Thankfully, I have other things to keep me busy. The first is teaching. I’m trying my hand at taking some tutorials this semester, which has been a rewarding experience so far, and is giving me some ideas to feed back into my own research. I’m also picking up a couple of classes as is required by the uni, and they should help me with the actual writing process of my thesis. Finally, I’ve been doing some light reading on the spoiler culture in present day society, as I’ve been convinced there’s a good paper to be written about spoiler culture in games, and I want to be the one to write it. Early days yet, and not entirely related to gaming podcasts, but something to keep me busy while I’m waiting on ethics approval.
The present of presentations
Finally, I’ve been very fortunate to be involved in multiple presentations in the recent past and near future. The first was a presentation as part of a panel for the PhD Symposium organized by the Podcast Studies PhD group. While I don’t love getting up early, I did enjoy all the talks and look forward to sharing that with you when the presentations are placed online.
Then in February I presented my talk at DiGRAA2022 about the research I’m currently working on. I mentioned in my last post I hoped to be accepted, and having attended I can say it was a great deal of fun, with plenty of great talks which I’m humbled to have been a part of. If you want to see what I presented, I’ve attached the video above. I’d also recommend checking out some of the other talks – they’re all great.
What have I been playing (and reading and the like)
I said last blog post I hoped to do a bit more reading for pleasure over the holiday and I did almost reach this goal. I finished a few books, most notably Kameron Hurley’s The Light Brigade (which I’d heartily recommend), and am currently reading The Last Watch by JS Dewes, which is a solidly fun mystery/adventure in a sci-fi setting. A lot of what I’ve been reading has fallen in the sci-fi genre which… says a bit about my tastes. Maybe I’ll try something in a different field for my next book.
As far as what I’ve been playing, the two big games at the moment are my perpetual Destiny grind with the new Witch Queen expansion and Elden Ring. I don’t have much to say about Destiny. It’s the best it’s ever been (with a stellar raid), but still as newcomer unfriendly as it has been in the past. I love it, in spite of its flaws.
Elden Ring has been an interesting experience though. I’ve played a small amount of Bloodborne but it’s my first real deep dive into a FromSoft game, and the 100 odd hours I’ve clocked so far would serve as an indication that I’m quite enjoying it. Obviously, I now can weigh in on all the “difficulty” and “accessibility” that comes along with each new From release – though to be honest I don’t have much to say that hasn’t already been said. Yes, the game is hard, but through a combination of grinding, mildly cheesy builds and even some “gitting gud” I’ve been able to defeat most challenges so far (and have no doubt I’ll defeat this current pain point in due time). My thoughts on this matter are not going to add anything new or important to the conversation so I won’t dally.
What I’ve found most interesting is the varied level of responses from my friends that have also been playing. Elden Ring has taken over the lives of many of my friends and the responses couldn’t be more varied. We have long-time From fans bemoaning it as one of their least interesting games, as much as we have dedicated followers praising it as their best. I’m a relative newcomer who loves it, but other newcomers I’ve spoken to have bounced off it. And the ways we’ve approached the game (which no doubt inform these takes) have all been wildly different.
It’s quite refreshing to see. Separate from the discourse, I’ve absolutely loved hearing the variety of opinions from friends about this game. I can’t think of another game in recent years that’s captivated our imagination and provoked so much varied discussion. It’s refreshing.
Speaking of varied discussion, I think it’s about time I put a bow on this blog post. Hopefully when we speak next I’ll be telling you about my successful ethics approval and how you can help me with the research proper.