Boosting the collaboration between academia and game industry

The interface between practitioners and academics is one of my favourite topics, yet I haven’t been writing about it as extensively as I should. Now that I’m writing about it, please allow me to start with two anecdotes coming from my experiences as a game industry researcher.

1. I was part of a super cool game community collective in Finland, and during one of our meetings I asked one of my friends – game developer himself – how could I, a researcher, help him and his game company. He looked at me, smiled a bit, and replied: I don’t know.

2. Some months ago Neogames, the interest organisation for the Finnish game industry, released their strategy online and they asked for people’s comments. I read through it, and commented on their argumentations behind demanding more public funding for e.g. conference trips as inadequate. Initial reactions for my comments were echoing slight misunderstanding, but eventually a nice blog post was published on this topic.

Based on these two anecdotes it would be easy to claim the divide between academics and practitioners to be wide, and management scholars in fact have debated for decades now how to diffuse ideas scholars craft amongst practitioners. Indeed, from many perspectives the call for closer ties between academics and practitioners is valid, and here are some of my notions and insights on the topic.

In my humble opinion, academics can be of benefit in the game industry from at least two perspectives: policy making and company level. Well, these are at least the dimensions I’m most interested in; other scholars might have differing takes on this. Moving on, I argue that the academia – industry collaboration / interaction is beneficial for these four reasons.

  1. Diffusion of new ideas
  2. New perspectives to work, processes, policies
  3. Questioning existing models / norms / attitudes through research
  4. Fostering new industry professionals through education

I’m not advocating here that academics should become the game industry’s lapdogs or prostitutes. Instead, what I’m calling for is more interaction across silos! (same applies to neighboring industries, too! Music and game industry, anyone?)

We as academics aren’t supposed to produce research that directly serves game companies or policy makers. Or in other words, we can’t distort our research to generate results companies and policy makers want. 

No. What I’m advocating here is a new form of collaboration through more engaging research! We’re all tired of filling out countless surveys on business strategies, exports, products and so on. So why don’t we rethink the interface between academia and game industry?

If you’re interested in crafting mutually beneficial relationships across the “Great Divide”, have your say in the comment field below, or get in touch with me, and let’s make things happen!

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