Quite often in gaming, the research being conducted to address the problems or questions raised by sponsors is highly inductive and qualitative in nature. An inductive approach in gaming, of which is described in the Data Collection and Analysis Plan (DCAP), calls for the collection and analysis of data to identify any patterns emerge that suggest a relationship between variables. The team of gaming professionals will undertake a comprehensive literature review at the very beginning of the research project. However, the literature review is not something that is just conducted early on in the gaming process. Many of the new insights and implications garnered from the data during post game analysis encourages the analysis team to investigate even further in the literature.
With an approach grounded in learning from the game participants, the literature review is used to frame the problem in the introduction of the game report. This provides a useful backdrop for the reader or sponsor of the problems or issues leading up to the need for the game. Periodically, the literature is often broken out towards the end of the game report, where it is used to compare and contrast with the results that emerged from game play. However, when a grounded theory or phenomenological study is employed, such as in the case of the Navy Irregular Challenges Game (October 2010), the literature is less often used to set the stage for the game.
The literature review enables the research team to identify the gaps in knowledge that are worthy of future study, challenge current ideas in the field and acquire an accepted theory and apply to a specific area being explored in a game. The review of related literature assist in bounding the scope of the problem, developing the research questions, and understanding the various perspectives garnered from the game’s sponsor. Quite often the most practical and useful application of a games findings occurs when those new insights and ideas can be applied and examined to future games, such as in serial gaming. Between the inner war years, the War Gaming Department was successful in building upon many of the previous games executed, which in turn, assisted in identifying the growing naval threat in the pacific.
When a deductive approach is applied to gaming, such as in the case of the MDA Operational Game (July 2010), the literature review helps provide a source for the focus of the research, which included the development of the games objectives, research questions and hypothesis. Conversely, if a game favors more toward an inductive approach, as it did in the Global Maritime Partnerships Game (October 2010), the analysis team will begin with the collection and analysis of data, ‘a process that leads to questions that are then addressed through engagement with the literature’ (Gray, 2009).
The other component of a literature review that has yet to be mentioned focuses on research methods. The DCAP will discuss not only the research design, approaches and tools used for that particular game, but also for other studies and games and the academic sources used to justify the use of them.