One of the fundamental aspects of gaming that influences your research and game design are the research questions. What questions are you attempting to answer in this game? Accordingly, a purpose statement is first developed which establishes the central direction of the game. Mainly in qualitative games, the purpose statement will describe the central phenomenon, indicate the strategy of inquiry and may even mention the players or individual, group or organization of which a game may support. From the broad, general purpose statement, the research team narrows the purpose down even further into the game’s objectives. Specific research questions are then developed. In a heavy qualitative, inductive game such as the Global Maritime Partnerships (GMP) Game 2010, the research questions developed assumed two forms: a central question and subsidiary questions. The central question is a broad question that asks for an exploration of the central phenomenon or concept being explored in this game. Ask yourself, “What is the broadest question I can ask in this game in order to effectively investigate the sponsors underlying problem?” The intent of many games is to explore the complex set of factors surrounding the central phenomenon and present the varied perspectives or meanings that the game participants hold.
Applying Creswell’s model to the development of research question in gaming, the following are some general principles that may assist you in writing broad, qualitative research questions:
a) Ask one or two central questions followed by five to seven sub questions. The several sub questions follow each general central question; the sub questions help narrow the focus of the game and bound the problem you’re exploring.
b) The central question(s) and subsidiary questions should be grounded from the game’s purpose, objectives and related literature (military documents, scholarly articles, etc.).
c) Begin the research questions with the words what or how to convey an open and emerging research and game design.
d) Expect the research questions to evolve over the course of the game in a manner consistent with the assumptions of an emerging game design.
e) Use open ended questions, without reference to the literature or theory. However, in a game where you’re examining specific polices, plans or strategies, or using a document to generate specific hypothesis, it may be appropriate to cite or use this document as part of your research question. For example, one may consider a central research question to be, "Based on the existing Fleet CONOPS, what are the gaps that limit the Navy’s ability to sustain maritime operations in the Caribbean? The specific mission sets outlined in the CONOPS, which are then applied in the game, is your independent variable, and the gaps that preclude you from accomplishing those missions is your dependent variable.
Your independent variables are those that almost certainly cause, influence, or affect outcomes. Your dependent variables are those that depend on the independent variable; they are the outcomes or results of the influence of the independent variables. We may have intervening or mediating variables that stand between the independent and dependent variable (Creswell, 2009). These could be viewed as other factors that may also influence an outcome.
Once we are equipped with the research questions and hypotheses, we will then be prepared to apply the appropriate model of gaming to a project (e.g. one-sided, one and a half sided, and two sided), develop the data collection instruments, and prepare the scenario and game products.