Small Team Leadership/Management - Adaptation of a small team leadership or management method to game development teams. There is a substantial literature addressing small team leadership and it is believed that leading small groups of individuals requires much different strategies than larger groups.
Topic Area 2: Performance Measurement - Performance measurement of video game production teams. Whether we think about it or not, leaders by definition are tasked with maximizing performance of their teams on the individual and group level. However, it is often assumed that performance metrics are valid. Organizations routinely require performance of individuals and groups based on poorly validated performance metrics. This topic requires an understanding of developing performance criteria, and specifically how it should be done with video game teams.
Topic Area 3: Employee Selection - Employment selection methods for video game production teams. One of the most expensive efforts within organizations is finding and hiring competent, motivated team members. There is substantial research as to how one can validly select the best worker, but there is little research specific to the game industry in this area.
Topic Area 4: Managing Creativity - Managing creativity in a video game production team. There are many things that leaders do to manage worker performance and some research has been conducted which addresses important considerations when leading workers whose job is to create novel products, such as video games. This topic requires the understanding of leadership theory, and specifically that related to leading and managing creative people, and the application to the video game setting.
Topic Area 5: Team Motivation - Measurement and management of work motivation in a video game production team. When managing the work of team members, there are several important factors that must be considered. Most scientists agree that work performance results from at least three important factors: worker ability, worker motivation, and opportunity to perform. Virtually no research has addressed the motivational considerations for video game teams.
Areas of interest:
Leadership, Motivation, Performance Measurement, Employee Selection, Human Factors, Communication
Contributed by Shawn Stafford
Topic Area 1: Multi-Modal / Sensory Research - Basic research that focuses on a single sense or combination of senses exploring established scientific principles as applied to the entertainment/game industry (Design slant or Research slant). Vision, Audition, Touch, Smell, Taste. Can be combined with emotion, memory, attention, & performance.
Topic Area 2: Usability Techniques - Application and/or basic research of current/future usability techniques single/combinations of techniques that can explore and study entertainment/games in novel ways.
Topic Area 3: Design Principles for Interface Design - Application and combination of historical and well researched design principles related to interface design (Gestalt, Iconic design, etc.). Research should focus on topic areas that have been studied in other domains related to the game industry but have not yet been studied within or applied to the gaming industry.
Topic Area 4: Accessibility - The student should investigate how companies can design for differently-abled gamers. The student must study the foundation of the disorder before attempting any take away. Disorders such as parkinson's, adhd, autism, bipolar disorder, down syndrome, alzheimer's, and even specific area brain damage are open for selection. Before choosing a disorder the student should investigate how many people in the US have the disorder and if ample research is being conducted in the area.
Topic Area 5: Competition/Aggression/Flow - The student should investigate both the pure theoretical foundation and the applied research pertaining to competition and conflict between humans. Areas other than gaming should be studied and applied to gaming. While students can use a genre as a vehicle within the thesis they should strive to research scientific principles and established theoretical foundations that can be formulated in to guidelines and/or best practices for game design for any game requiring competition.
Areas of Interest:
Usability, Physiology, Neurology, Statistics, Accessibility, Sensation and Perception, Human Factors.
Contributed by Adams Greenwood-Ericksen
Topic Area 1: Usability Heuristics- Evaluating or assessing the suitability of usability heuristics for game or development tool applications. Students should make reference to all major extant published heuristics both for games and for more general applications. This topic is not intended as a forum for the creation of new heuristics, unless specifically required by an existing and identifiable gap in the marketplace.
Topic Area 2: Usability Lifecycle - Applying the usability lifecycle to game development efforts. Emphasis should be on streamlining or otherwise improving specific stages or processes to reduce cost, improve product quality, or otherwise provide benefits to studios, employees, or the industry as a whole.
Topic Area 3: Quality Assurance - Applying the QA lifecycle to game development efforts. Focus may be on identifying strategies for implementing QA early in the development lifecycle to reduce overall cost, promote defect-free code, reduce defect rates through new QA practices, or implement QA earlier in the development lifecycle to reduce overall cost.
Topic Area 4: Quality Assurance and Usability - Integrating QA and usability to promote positive user experiences. Taken together, the areas of development grouped under the headings of QA and Usability may be thought of as one single area of endeavor commonly referred to as "user experience" or UX. Students should discuss the interrelationship between these two traditionally separate fields and identify ways to integrate assessment and improvement strategies.
Topic Area 5: Physiological Assessment - The role of advanced measures (physiological or other) in usability assessment and QA for games. Such measures include, but are not limited to: heart rate and heart rate variability (HRV), galvanic skin response (GSR), electroencephalography (EEG), eyetracking, electromyography, pupillometry, or others. Students may consider strategies for implementing these tools in the UX process, approaches to using them more effectively, or business models to support the use of techniques reliant on these measures.
Topic Area 6: The factors involved in developing, delivering, or applying educationally-focused games to achieve both financial success and quantifiable learning gains. Students will be expected to thoroughly consider the extensive body of existing literature in this area when formulating their approach to this topic.
Area of Interest:
Topic Area 7: The Influence of Metacritic - the impact of metareview sites (such as metacritic) on practices and outcomes in the industry has been expanding dramatically in recent years. A great deal of research remains to be done not only on the suitability of such metrics as assessment and evaluation tools but also on the impact metacritic and other sites are having on the way in which the industry does business.
Contributed by Rupert Meghnot
Topic Area 1: Viral Marketing - What, particularly, can game studios/publishers do to most cost-effectively market their game, using social networking techniques? What steps and/or suggestions can you offer?
Topic Area 2: Leadership Selection - Developing a selection methodology that could serve as a template for game development organizations in helping them choose the appropriate people for leadership positions in their projects
Topic Area 3: Optimizing Creativity - Developing a set of suggested policies & procedures (P&P) or a methodology which, when adopted by a production studio, would serve to optimize a Team's inherent creativity and/or problem-solving skills
Topic Area 4: Production Methodology - Developing a (hybridized?) production methodology model for game development, utilizing various processes and P&P taken from various recognized methodologies
Topic Area 5: Production Management Basics - How, by learning & adhering to the basics of project management (as espoused in PMBOKÂ®), a studio can overcome many of the problems they face (e.g., "crunch time" and other scheduling issues, employee turnover, high development costs, managing problem stakeholders, lower quality, etc.)
Areas of Interest:
Topic Area 6: Interactive Product Placements in MMOs - Offering ideas to entice brands to help fund the development of MMOs, while generating additional marketing information (e.g., demographics, choice, etc.) from players (e.g., a player chooses a CokeÂ® instead of a PepsiÂ® in the game)
Contributed by Robin Koman
Topic Area 1: Diversity Studies - Diversity issues related to gender, race, or sexual orientation (etc.), diversity in the industry/diversity and Game Design. (Some possible areas of study include the changing game market; psychological and sociological differences and design choices, as well as the sociological and psychological consequences of a lack of representation in media; design choices)
Topic Area 2: Gerontechnology and accessibility - exploring the issue of creating games that are accessible for those over the age of 50, specifically as it relates to leisure, health and work (Design slant or Research slant). This can focus on issues related to cognitive, physical and sociological changes, and can address the design of game interface modes or in-game content.
Topic Area 3: Localization - Creating games that can reach multiple markets worldwide is a substantial undertaking, but one that is increasingly vital as costs of development rise. Pursuit of this topic would require an understanding of both linguistic and cultural translation, as well as the impact localization has at different stages of the development process. (Possible areas of study could include production methodologies-either for outsourced or internal localization, marketing, or design)
Topic Area 4: Communication in Online Play - Whether experienced in an MMO setting or during multiplayer play in a console or PC game, online communication is rife with problems. There are issues related to age, gender, content, security, harassment, the lack of nonverbal and tone cues, etc. Students interested in this topic would need to familiarize themselves with the broad body of research related to online communication, and then select a specific issue within video games to address in regards to that research. (Students approaching this topic should anticipate conducting a survey.)
Topic Area 5: Episodic Game Development and Marketing - What techniques can be borrowed from film, television, radio dramas, etc., to make for effective episodic development and/or marketing; audience demographics; marketing and episodic structure, production methodologies and episodic development.
Areas of Interest:
Leadership, Diversity, Accessibility, Localization, Usability, Communication, Design
Contributed by Roy Papp
Topic Area 1: Traditional Animation - Please contact the instructor directly for information on this topic.
Topic Area 2: Game Production - Please contact the instructor directly for information on this topic.
Topic Area 3: Film Theory - Please contact the instructor directly for information on this topic.
Topic Area 4: Film Production - Please contact the instructor directly for information on this topic.
Areas of Interest:
Topic Area 5: Mobile Game Development
Topic Area 6: Desensitization and Games
Topic Area 7: Games As Educational Tools - Learning, application and assessment. How might state and federal educational standards be mapped to gameplay and content, in the context of enabling and/or assessing student learning?
Contributed by Gerard Merritt
Topic Area 1: Time Management/Methodology - By implementing a quality philosophy on the front end of production is it to avoid crunch and still remain on budget or under budget? The focus has to be on time, finances, and game quality ie NO bugs.
Topic Area 2: Game Development Standardization - Can standardization of game development propel the game industry into the true next generation of gaming? Focus will be on SEI, CMMI, ISO standards the impact they have had on other industries and why it could benefit gaming overall.
Topic Area 3: Cross Functional Training - Is cross-functional training the key to more efficient production whereby higher quality games get produced? Focus will be on the skills of the resources and how to implement educational development model within production.
Areas of Interest:
Topic Area 4: Offshore Development - Dealing with distributed teams; how to get efficient production with deliverables coming in from multiple locations. How do you manage through the time difference?
Topic Area 5: People Management - How do you manage Subject Matter Experts (SME's)? How do you get across your point without losing project momentum or team/individual morale? How do production leaders manage communication to teams/individuals so that time and cost remain within balance?
Topic Area 6: Serious Games
Topic Area 7: Marketing
Contributed by Tony Williams
Topic Area 1: Production Methods - Methodologies used in the video game industry in production and operations management to enhance /to develop/produce quality games/its effectiveness/ performance or training.
Topic Area 2: Organizational Theory and Behavior - The concept of organizational theory and behavior as it pertains to performance /organizational development and effectiveness/ development in team dynamics.
Topic Area 3: Management Theory - The concept of management theory as it pertains to people and team organization / project effectiveness/ development in team dynamics and subsequent managerial theories.
Topic Area 4: Serious Games - The use of games to enhance performance or training/its effectiveness/how to develop. (Training, e.g. military, education, job training.)
Areas of Interest:
Topic Area 5: Gender Studies - Gender-oriented vs. Gender-neutral computer games in education, can open up in areas of what genders prefer in games and why, or what, why, and how certain games may allow one gender to excel over the other.
Topic Area 6: Marketing Strategies - What do companies do as far as strategies in this market, showing their similarities and differences in an attempt to redefine the business itself and improve/provide suggestions.
Contributed by Susan Gold
Areas of Expertise:
Topic Area 1: Viral Marketing - How games use marketing techniques that use pre-existing social networks to produce increases in brand awareness or to achieve other marketing objectives. This topic requires an understanding of marketing, social networks and understanding social and psychological implications.
Topic Area 2: Utilizing Social Networks - Explore how games are utilizing social networks to create and sustain audience for games; the rise in developers such as Zynga and casual games studios have put this area of games as one of the most sought after channels. This topic requires an understanding of the games landscape and the rise of casual games and monetization theory.
Topic Area 3: Game Education - What does it mean to have a game degree? what should we be teaching in secondary and higher education? STEM education? STE(A)M education? How will game specific education solve any of these issues? Why is Edutainment dead and/or dreaded? This topic requires an understanding of K-12 education, tools for development and the constraints on educational programs and funding.
Areas of interest:
Topic Area 4: Rapid Prototyping - The area of rapid prototyping is a unique area of game design that is or should be employed at all areas of design. I am interested in looking at success in designs that use various rapid prototyping strategies for design & development of products. This topic requires an understanding of the development process, user testing, brainstorming and collaborative tools.
Topic Area 5: Leadership & Activism - Video game developers are some of the most active and conscientious participants in social media and employ tools like Kickstarter and HumbleBundle to promote games and social ideas. I am interested in exploring why game development has 1) taken to the grass roots approach at fundraising to make games; 2) carries the torch and supports one another. This topic requires an understanding of activism, community involvement and the use of social networks.