Be professional enough to do a decent literature review…

Approximate Reading Time: 2 minutes


I get a lot of papers to review in Game Studies; Serious Games; Educational Games., etc.

I used to learn a lot from reading these papers.

Not anymore.

Not only is much of what I read “old news” (i.e. it’s been done or discussed and mostly published before), but FAR too many of the papers I read now don’t even cite the other works. What’s going on?

I am finding more and more submissions (journals, conferences, etc.) from authors who have not done a thorough lit review. Many papers I’ve read appear to come from authors who are relatively new to the field, did a quicky lit. search (1st 2 screens in google scholar, or for many of the Education papers I see, it looks as though they simply went to 2 or 3 education websites (AERA, AACE, AECT) and searched a subset of the journals there. This leaves people with a fairly restricted view of what’s been done and what is known.

What’s the problem? Do people not know how to perform a lit. review anymore? Do they not care? Are they naive enough to believe they’re the first ones who thought of this?

Game studies is highly interdisciplinary and those who remain in their disciplinary silos come across as being quite out of touch. It is also such a fast-developing area that ‘old’ sources (i.e. > 5 years old) need to be examined carefully to see if they are still relevant as many are not. Citing them as sources of current understandings holds everything back.

It is hard to believe, but nearly everything published in game studies and game technology areas prior to 2000 is no longer useful. Both World of Warcraft (Blizzard Entertainment Inc., 2004) and Second Life (Linden Lab, 2003), two massively multiplayer online environments with nine and 8.5 million subscribers respectively, were released only a few years ago. Not only have gaming and game studies changed a great deal in the last few years, but academic and institutional attitudes have also evolved.  As Tobias and Fletcher report in their 2007  article, “five years ago fewer than a dozen universities offered game related programs of study; that figure has now jumped to over 190 institutions in the United States and another 161 worldwide”. Clearly, the landscape has changed dramatically in recent years, and our research needs to catch up. In his response to Clark’s point of view, Kurt Squire (2007) reminds us of Robert Kozma’s (2000) warning, which in turn echoed that of Charles Reigeluth made nearly twenty years ago: “we seem to be in risk of being left on the sidelines in our own ballgame” (1989, p.68). It would appear that at our mindset in educational technology may still not be growing with the times.

This kind of shoddy work, along with the plethora of mediocre (and downright crappy) serious games being produced by people who don’t know or respect the field – and who don’t play games – is going to result in a new edutainment era.


Be the first to like.

Leave a Reply