Progress Report, Week Nine

My research journey is drawing to a close,  my outline is nearly completed and my final draft plus presentation are being pieced together slowly but surely. I hoped I would be farther along than I am, but alas the topic has turned out to be extremely large and when I think I’m getting closer to calling it complete I find a lot more legitimate information to add.

The issue I ran into this week was just stripping all the information down into sections I can use and then translating it into graphs, because it was just too many companies. I realized that sometimes looking up the information for every single one of the 20 companies I was evaluating was taking me forever and also giving me an extremely long references list. I think I am just going to have to pick and choose from the top sources based on a unbiased perspective, so I can efficiently whittle it down. For example if I find that from the 20 companies that I researched 60% of them used teams of 15 I don’t need to include every single article for every company, I just have to ensure that my data reflects that 60% of the teams had 15. So in other words as long as my ratios in my paper are accurate I only need to include 6 companies in that example to give me 60%. This will probably be a faster way to do things rather than having to source one graph from 20 different sources.

This week I was making the final touches on my outline and found that it was incredibly big. Even though I feel like that portion of my work is large enough, I still keep adding to it even now. This is about where I expected to be, but I never feel like I’m done no matter how much I accomplish. I guess until I press that submit button I will always feel like there’s more that I can do. Next week is my final week to complete the project, so I need to work extremely hard to ensure I have done everything I can do to present all the information complete and unbiased. I will have both the paper and the presentation for class done next week and hopefully it reaches my expectations.

Week 1 : Choose a Topic and Thesis (Done)

Week 2-4: Searching (Done)

Week 5-6: Reading/Evaluating (Done)

Week 7-8: Outlining/Drafting (Done)

Week 9: Final Draft/Presentation (In Progress)

Week 10: Wiki

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Journal Entry, Week Eight

In my research analysis project I wasn’t too surprised by the information that I found for quite awhile until I ran into certain topics which began to show unethical practices. I have already discussed how many of these game designs incorporate addicting elements on purpose to attract what the business calls “whales” to make their revenue, but I haven’t talked about other surprises I found so far.

Almost 1 out of 3 of all the top grossing game apps are both free and casino games that don’t even give you real money as a reward, its all fake in game currency. The other games which are not labeled as casino games, all use the same elements as casino games though they just don’t call themselves Slotomania or House of Fun Free Slots. It seems that the market for pay to play games has not been profitable, but the market for exploiting the weak and easily addicted has. Game companies are scrambling to get a piece of that action, because as much as 1,000 games are released a day in the iOS app store. These games can make anywhere from $182,000 to $1,948,000 in a single day and their entire production budget could be completely paid for in less than a week of release. That is staggeringly high numbers, not even major game production companies for consoles or PC’s can’t produce those number ratios.

I went into this believing that it would be a pretty standard research project and was hoping to improve my own personal project’s by adding the useful information I found to their development, but what I found instead was more depressing. It seems that no matter how good people think my game apps are or how well designed they are, it will not translate to success unless I turn it into a “fake” slot machine, since it doesn’t actually pay out real money. I didn’t spend a lot of time looking at failed game apps, but I did see one trend that I will note here, even if the games got great reviews, many of them still went bankrupt if they didn’t incorporate those elements. Despite that knowledge I still need to present this information in an unbiased fashion, but on a personal level I don’t ever want to make money with those shady practices.

 

Lab Activity, Week Eight

This week we had to discuss the highlights of our research and mention what was in our journal post last week. I chose to talk about how I am organizing my outline with pictures to reduce pages and how my data actually gave me quite a surprise in some areas. I’m not going to lie to people though, most of my data was either pretty standard project plan setups or scary and unnerving in their approach to game design in general. Almost every single top played game app is a free game with micro-transactions, while the majority of one time pay games don’t get a lot of attention despite them costing far less and offering people more content. That’s what I chose to talk about, because I found it the most interesting, but also the most disturbing part about my research analysis.

My group offered suggestions about organizing my data into bullet points to just “free flow” discussing the information, instead of using power point to put everyone to sleep with giant walls of text. I thought about it and I like the idea, so I’ll probably use something like that in the slides, but I won’t use them in my report. For my report I have to be able to talk about the data since the professor is expecting to hear my thoughts on it and not see a bunch of data that could look meaningless to them. One of my group mates pointed out that there are many things that hold no value on their own unless they can be paired with something else to give it meaning. Just like my data if it had no explanations for its existence on my paper.

After analyzing the data and discussing it with my classmates I have come to the conclusion that my research question has given me an answer, but half of it seems unethical to say the least. I know that the information is accurate, but I feel like I should definitely mention all of this or at least put a moral objection at the end of my report as a caveat to people that these practices are eerily similar if not identical to what casino’s use to keep people spending money.

Progress Report, Week Eight

This week I found myself with 20+ pages of a rough draft and realized that it’s not just too big its honestly out of order as well. I have just been reading from all the sources I gathered and plugging in information as I went along until I realized that it’s a huge mess, but the information is still relevant and interesting. As far as I can tell I am probably not where I need to be at this point on my research journey, but I feel very comfortable that I can finish my outline completely by next week.

I think the biggest issue I ran into this week was trying to decide which information should be in graph form and which should be written out or explained. Overcoming this problem will just take me some time to decide how big I want my paper to be and which topics I feel need explaining. It’s getting really complex and boiling it all down into something small and digestible, but still give a sound answer to my research question has been problematic. All that being said I still feel like I have a great outline in the works.

After going over my outline I realized some of my data seems extremely different from each source, like budgets for example and I’m not sure what that means. I guess that means that I shouldn’t try to interpret that type of data and I should just present the data to the reader, so I don’t make incorrect assumptions.

Next week is my final draft and I will need to work extremely hard to complete it since it’s also my due date. I want to work hard to make it interesting and fun to read, because other people in my class will be reading my work next week in class. The typical research analysis process doesn’t include bias, so no matter how much I like my research question I have to keep in mind that my opinions play no part in my interpretation of the data.

Journal Entry, Week Seven

When I started this research analysis I already knew a little about both project planning and some game development practices, but I didn’t know small game development would be such a different animal. One thing I didn’t realize was that incredibly bad working environments can still breed successful games. I just assumed successful games would be the product of good teamwork and upper management practices and I found it odd that it even worked out at all. Some notions I held to be true before I started turned out to be accurate, like small teams work best and open communication is a strong part of the successful small game app model. Another notion I didn’t consider was how incredibly powerful and necessary marketing was to the success of so many of these companies.

There was one thing I never anticipated to see and that’s the amount of addictive features that the games are designed with intentionally. I know that they would never say they used people who specialize in behavioral psychology or that they focused their efforts on features that were morally questionable at best, but it was definitely evident in their project plans. This would explain part of their success, but it does make me slightly uncomfortable knowing that they employ these practices on unsuspecting children. My initial assumption that games are designed to be fun and the term addictive was always taken with a grain of salt, but ever since the smartphone came out, it has been decided that in order to be successful addiction was more important than game-play.

Oddly enough I never expected budgets to be so low, even from the high end gaming companies it only passed 1 million dollars a few times. Many of these games never even had one, because it was formed by a team of friends that relied on each other to complete the project. Lastly communication styles seemed to be exactly what I predicted, a majority of them used very little top down hierarchy structures, instead choosing a more molecular approach to team communication. Sharing of ideas frequently and little oversight was the highlights of most teams communication plans, but I figured that this area wouldn’t diverge much from most modern small programming teams since its just a better way to work in general. So far its been an interesting adventure with some things confirming what I already knew and others surprising me with refreshing insight into how these games come about.

Lab Activity, Week Seven

This week our lab activity was to discuss research collaboration and its benefits to both us and the world. I was not present for the lab this week, so I have to post my own personal reflection on the subject. Collaboration in research is extremely important to get big problems solved, because we live in a world where no one person no matter how intelligent or resourceful is capable of doing the necessary work on their own. When you come together to solve problems through collaborative research you can have a greater impact by bringing more skills to the table and having the insight or criticism can keep people on the right track.


In school right now we are collaborating on a research project about food technology and by having a small group dedicated to the same task, we bring our creativity and skills together to accomplish more much faster. We waste less time and have less risk because we share our knowledge and the work load to accomplish the tasks. This isn’t the first time I have had to collaborate like this in school and I doubt it will be the last time either since I am entering the business world and that is nothing but working with others.


I have seen the benefits of collaboration research in action both personally and in the scientific world through research papers and current technology. I can’t honestly see any negatives to this subject since its just so powerful, we wouldn’t have the world we live in now if it wasn’t for its consistent  use. It brings people together from multiple fields and professions to accomplish something they could have never done on their own. I guess you could argue that peoples different styles of research or investigation could clash with others, but that just means they need to adjust themselves personally and I don’t see it as a fault of research collaboration itself.

Progress Report, Week Seven

This week in my research journey I started outlining the draft portion of my research analysis and I think I have come a long way from where I started. I haven’t finished the entire rough draft yet, but I have generated all my topics within the paper and started mapping out where I want them to be and how I want to answer them. An example of my topics so far are schedule, game design, team setup, process improvement, and company structure. There are subtopics within those and I will be organizing some of them in graph form to make it all easier to digest. As long as I stay on this track I should be able to complete my outline on time with a solid answer.

 

I have not had any issues this week, its been going pretty well and its probably because I tackled all my major issues weeks ago. All I have to do now is compile it together which is difficult and extensive, but I wouldn’t call it an issue since its just a normal part of the process. I want to make sure that I am being thorough, so I will work until the very last moment to make sure I did all I could to answer my research question.

 

This is taking me such a long time, because I have to make sure most of the information is even available to use since not every company reveals their project plans so thoroughly. I figure that after evaluating all my sources I have realized that I won’t have enough from every company, so I will be using a combination of whatever I find to piece it together. I figure that as long as I mention what I found and what I couldn’t find anyone reading should be able to interpret the data for what it is and what it means.

 

After last week when I decided I need to cut down the amount of companies I was using I realized that some of the data I was cutting kind of felt important to answering the question and some just had very interesting information that related to success. So after reflection and spending some time on the outline I came to the conclusion that I should include as much as possible, even if I just put in the graph’s or only mention them one time.  I figure that I needed to be complete and that means including the unpleasant things like constant employee firing or manipulative practices, because the road to success is still success regardless of how that road was forged.

 

Week 1 : Choose a Topic and Thesis (Done)

Week 2-4: Searching (Done)

Week 5-6: Reading/Evaluating (Done)

Week 7-8: Outlining/Drafting (In Progress)

Week 9: Final Draft/Presentation

Week 10: Wiki