Gamestorming for ethnographic data analysis

On January 31, 2022, I gave a talk at the Ethnography Lab at the University of Toronto, about using “gamestorming” — a set of collaborative workshop techniques — for ethnographic data analysis. The Zoom event was recorded, so I’ve posted it here and on Youtube for archival purposes. Original event description follows below.

“Gamestorming” is a set of collaborative techniques — loosely structured like games — popular in private sector and nonprofit organizations. Gamestorming is used in group contexts to capture and process information, generate insights, solve problems and establish (or manufacture?) consensus. Usually, gamestorming activities take place during in-person meetings using white boards and sticky notes. During the pandemic, practitioners have increasingly adopted virtual whiteboards and other online tools to facilitate gamestorming. Gamestorming has come to be seen as a core tool in the “UX research” (user experience research) toolbox.

Carsten Knoch has used adapted gamestorming techniques to conduct group analysis sessions about ethnographic and interview data. While this may, at first glance, be an “off-label” use, sessions have generally been interesting, productive and made participants feel included in research work. In this Methods Café, Knoch will provide background, give examples (including “gamestorming game design”) and discuss how one might use the approach for a kind of “rapid, provisional” data analysis with friends or willing strangers. A short reading list will be included. This is a recorded Zoom event.

The Ethnography Lab promotes ethnographic research methods and practice in the university and outside academia. Arranged in interest groups, the Lab explores the craft and impact of ethnography in the contemporary world. The Lab offers a regular speaker series, acts as a resource centre to the university community, and as a link to the outside world via consulting, community activism, and so on. It also has a strong focus on teaching the practical aspects of ethnographic fieldwork at the undergraduate level.

The Ethnography Lab is a University of Toronto Anthropology initiative.

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