literature review challenges: search terms and depth

As I build my preliminary bibliography for the games & tourism literature review, I’m running into a number of challenges.

First, as I mentioned in my workflow post, the ubiquity of the word “game” makes it difficult to construct a search that yields the right results. A search that returns 70,000 results is almost as useless as one that yields only two or three. What has been more productive has been identifying an initial set of strong articles (both theoretical and case study) from both computing and tourism literatures, and then reviewing the bibliographies of those articles as well as the list of citing articles (via Google Scholar searches). I began with about 150 articles that I’d tentatively identified as relevant, and have been working my way through them, alphabetically by title, moving the useful items to a “vetted” collection, and adding the new items from bibliographies/citations as I go. I’m nearly through the articles beginning with G, and now have over 300 articles in the preliminary collection.

This leads to the next problem, which is knowing how far I should follow down the rabbit hole of prior work. For instance, if a case study on a tourism game cites an article on co-creation in tourism, and that article in turns cites an earlier theoretical work, do I need to acknowledge and include all three articles? This is a little easier for me to answer in the computing and game studies literature, since I have a better sense of what needs to be explicitly acknowledged/summarized, and what can be implied. But I don’t have that same understanding of the tourism literature, especially when it comes to core concepts like experience design and co-creation.

For now, I’m erring on the side of inclusion, since it’s easier to remove or ignore the articles when I start writing than it would be to track them back down again. But it’s making the preliminary evaluation of citations a LOT slower than I’d initially hoped.