Sunday, December 02, 2001

Just out of reach, wrapped in the words I need to put down is the resolution I have craved, which I have been anticipating ever since Wednesday. Researching computer games to me means that I have to forget about the traditional methods of textual analysis, and attempt to find the tools as well as the right questions to ask, before I can start finding answers. This has brought me to a point where I am using a mixture of literature theory, media theory, anthropology and sociology. This perverse mixture I have connected with Cultural Studies. The result is a varied (and labour-intensive) way of looking at MUDs, where the conclusion of most of the approaches I have tried has been: this is not quite right, this doesn't quite teach me the things I want to know. Most problematic is the way these methodologies deal with the subject of the researcher. Through all the work I have been doing I have seen that my work and my questions have had an impact on the games I have studied, changed the behaviour of the players and even lead to me being involved in developing games, testing out my own thoughts on games as well as learning.

Wednesday, I wrote about the delight in finding the work on Action Research, and yes, here it is, a methodology which takes the influence of the researcher and the fluid nature of human relations seriously. After all, there are no long traditions online, and to study net culture is less like studying the natives of Bhutan and more like studying an organisation in a period of change and development. Action research considers the subjects of the research to be active, individual and in possession of enough power to influence their own position in relation to the "organisation" being studied. It also opens for a mixture of methods, depending on which questions the researcher and the participants feel needs to be asked, with the participants or "subjects" being active without necessarily giving the control of the project to them. Some versions of Action Research is a kind of "Research of the Oppressed", where it connects to Boal's Drama of the Oppressed, treated like a tool to make the participant aware of their own position. This was not the intent of my research, but in a way it had that effect, as several of the interviews indicate.

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