This paper address assessment practice as part of professional activity and learning in the domain of game development. A growing body of research has been concerned with the professionalization of games production knowledge, frequently attributed to the coordinated work of numerous actors in technology dense settings. While previous accounts of games development list a multifaceted body of knowledge, there is a gap in the literature focusing on game developers’ professional knowing and learning in situ. With an analytical approach informed by ethnomethodology, this paper aim to make visible professional knowledge and learning when collaboratively evaluating games-in-development. It is focusing on game developers’ assessment work as a way to gain insight in the practical reasoning when orienting towards games and gaming as subject of assessment, and as a way of making professional knowledge bases explicit.
The empirical material is drawn from three settings: 1) a vocational game education, 2) a national game award event, and 3) a professional game development company. Based on fieldwork augmented with video-recordings, the study investigates how games-in-development are collaborative assessed and specifically the ways professionals evaluate co-workers views and understandings with respect to what constitutes problems and potentials of games-in-development.
Assessments are at stake in a number of internal and external work practices, such as gate reviews, playtests, and the activity of pitching not-yet-finished-nor-financed games to publishers. Games assessments are a common preoccupation at game companies and game education but also at so-called game awards. Games assessments share similarities with assessment practices in other professional and educational settings, such as design reviews in architectural practices. Both are events where proposals are assessed by externally recruited professionals. However, the assessment activities and object of assessment largely differ. In architectural education, proposals are assessed by considering the qualities visible in the designed material (such as plans, paper posters and digital slideshows) in relation to articulated intentions. This can be contrasted with the object of criticism in games presentations: the object constitutes both digitally visual material and designed ‘playable/interactive’ activities. This means that the qualities of a game cannot only be judged by interpreting the idea communicated in plain words together with some visual layout, it also has to be discovered when engaging with the designed ‘experience’. Hence, professionals’ in the gaming domain are required to account for what hinders or make possible appealing experiences during assessments of digital games.
By focusing on professionals’ collaborative assessments, the analysis unpacks some recurrent orientations towards games and gaming in professional settings. It is shown that the professionals are faced with a number of institutional and organizational demands with respect to time, technology, conventions, and innovations.
Collaborative assessment, Game development, Digital games, Digitally mediated activity, Jury
4th International Conference Applied Linguistics and Professional Practice, September 10-12, 2014.