WESTSTAR LAB

Pictured (Left to right): Trevor Coppins, Dr. Johanna Weststar, Shruti Kumar, and Eva Kwan.

OUR RESEARCH

 

We’re an eclectic bunch united by broad interests in studying project-based knowledge work, occupational and professional identity, citizenship at work/industrial citizenship (not to be confused with organizational citizenship behaviour), and issues of gender, diversity and inclusion.  

 

We have experience across a range of research methodologies including interviews, proprietary and general surveys and experimental design. We often engage in applied research projects with industry partners and broad knowledge mobilization projects. 

LAB PROJECTS

 

Our lab is actively involved in projects within the video game and manufacturing industry as well as with some research stemming from covid-19. Here are some examples of our current projects and collaborations: 

Developer Satisfaction Survey (DSS): This work is carried out in partnership with the International Game Developers’ Association (IGDA) and funded by the IGDA Foundation. Every other year our team administers and analyses the data from the IGDA Developer Satisfaction Survey to benchmark working experiences of game developers and industry trends. The next survey will be live in January 2021. Reports can be found at http://gameqo.org and https://igda.org/dss/ 

First Three Years: This is a SSHRC-funded project being carried out in collaboration with Sean Gouglas (University of Alberta), Suzanne de Castell (Ontario Tech University), Jen Jenson (York University) and Jennifer Whitson (University of Waterloo) and with the support of the Higher Education Video Game Alliance (HEVGA). This project will follow a group of 200 graduates of post-secondary video game education programs in Canada and the United States through their first three years in the workforce. We want to understand the challenges recent graduates face in the transition from school to work, with particular attention to the unique challenges of women.  

Game Workers Unite! Mobilising and Organising the Creative Economy Workforce: This project is being carried out in collaboration with Amanda Coles (Deakin University) and Jamie Woodcock (the Open University) with funding from the DANCAP Private Equity Faculty Research Award (Western University) and the Faculty Research Grant Scheme (Deakin University). We seek to document the emergence and development of Game Workers’ Unite (GWU) as a catalyst to unionize the video game industry. We will study regionally based GWU Chapters in Canada, Australia and England to understand the impact of regional factors, institutional actors and individuals on emerging workers’ movements.  

A Study of ‘Live’ Game Development: This project is being carried out in collaboration with Louis-Étienne Dubois (Ryerson University) and a video game industry partner. We sought to understand the differences between the traditional mode of game development (Games-as-a-Product) and an emerging mode of game development (live games or Games-as-a-Service) in terms of project management and human resource management theory and practice, working conditions and professional identities. We are also working with our industry partner to design a Live Game Readiness Tool for practical implementation. 

 

Diversity in the Ontario Manufacturing Industry: This project is being carried out as part of a Mitacs internship with the Trillium Network for Advanced Manufacturing. In the first stage of this study, we examined gender diversity within the Ontario manufacturing industry where women's workforce representation has steadily hovered at 28% for the past decade. We took a qualitative approach to examine the recruitment, retention, and advancement of women who work or have worked in manufacturing. Through semi-structured interviews with workers in various roles (e.g., production line, skilled trades, technical, recruitment, and management) across different sectors, we identified common themes in their paths into the industry, their barriers faced, and the experiences that helped them navigate the industry. In future stages, we will examine age diversity within the industry. 

Covid-19 and the Ontario Manufacturing Industry: This project was carried out as part of a Mitacs internship with the Trillium Network for Advanced Manufacturing. Using secondary data collection and interviews with executives of manufacturing companies, we investigated the nature and extent of the pivot by Ontario manufacturers to produce Covid-19 medical supplies and the challenges they faced. This resulted in two research outcomes: 1) a database of over 200 Ontario manufacturers who pivoted; and 2) an industry-facing article on the challenges of pivoting and potential solutions. 

 

University Working Arrangements Study: This project is being carried out in collaboration with David Peetz and Glenda Strachan (Griffith University) and 10 other universities in Canada and Australia. We seek to understand the impact of covid-19 on working arrangements and work outcomes among university faculty and staff. 

MEET THE LAB

Dr. Johanna Weststar

I'm an Associate Professor of industrial relations and human resources in the DAN Department of Management and Organizational Studies at Western University. I am an Adjunct Professor in the Industrial/Organizational Psychology area and an Affiliate Researcher in the Department of Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies. Right now, I primarily study the video game industry within the broader context of the project-based creative and cultural industries. I like to research everything about the workers who make video games - their working conditions, their occupational identity, their engagement in individual and collective action to improve their working lives, the representation of women in the industry...and more! 

I have also conducted research about pension governance and co-edited a research volume on the Contradictions of Pension Fund Capitalism. In addition to these streams, I have published on the topics of underemployment, workplace learning, job control, pregnancy leave and industrial relations climate. 

I am a member of the International Labour and Employment Relations Association (ILERA) Executive, a past-President of the Canadian Industrial Relations Association (CIRA), a member of the CRIMT Institutional Experimentation for Better Work Partnership Project and the President of the Editorial Committee of the journal Relations Industrielles/Indusrial Relations

I have two kids, three cats, play the ukulele and love board games. 

Trevor Coppins

Trevor is currently pursuing his PhD in Industrial/Organizational (I/O) Psychology under the supervision of Dr. Johanna Weststar. His research interests are workplace attachments, motivation, employee well-being, and extreme working conditions. Trevor has a variety of industry research experience in both the video game and manufacturing industry. 

 

His research has been in part funded by the Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship (Master’s). He was also the recipient of the Douglas N. Jackson award for research potential in the field of I/O Psychology. In the public speaking realm, Trevor placed 1st in the faculty of Social Science’s 3 Minute Thesis competition and placed top 20 across Western University, where he presented his talk at the Wolf Performance Hall in London, Ontario. 

Outside of the office, Trevor enjoys cooking (and hopefully not burning) delicious meals, relaxing with a video game or movie, and desperately avoiding being hit in Muay Thai classes. 

Eva Kwan

Eva is a PhD candidate in I/O psychology under Dr. Johanna Weststar's supervision. Her research interests include intersectionality, employee voice, mentorship, precarious workers, and teamwork in the workplace.  

Her master's thesis "What is Mentorship and Diversity-Valuing on Perceived Competence?" examined the impact of mentorship and gender on perceptions of competence in the workplace. Interested in the applications of psychology, Eva has worked on the International Game Developers Association (IGDA) Developer Satisfaction Survey 2019 summary report and works with the non-profit Trillium Network for Advanced Manufacturing as a Mitacs Accelerate Intern. Her work with the latter focuses on marginalized and young workers' experiences with diversity and inclusion in the Ontario manufacturing industry. 

 

She is the recipient of the Ontario Graduate Scholarship 2018-2019. 

 

In her free time, she enjoys strolling through parks, playing board games, and trying new teas. 

Shruti Kumar

 

Shruti is pursuing a PhD in Industrial/Organizational Psychology under the supervision of Dr. Johanna Weststar. Her research is focused on how employees’ intersectional identities impact their success in the workplace. She is particularly interested in investigating workplace discrimination based on race, social class, and motherhood.    

Shruti is also pursuing applied industry experience in diverse settings. She has contributed to the International Game Developers Association (IGDA) Developer Satisfaction Survey 2019 summary report and is working on writing upcoming reports.    

In her free time, Shruti enjoys baking chocolate chip cookies, reading fantasy novels, spending time on her yoga mat, and exploring new places with her family and friends. 

JOINING THE LAB

If you are interested in volunteering in our lab, please contact Dr. Johanna Weststar (weststar@uwo.ca). 

I am accepting graduate student applicants for 2020-2021. For information on applying, please see here for more details. 

SELECTED PUBLICATIONS AND PRESENTATIONS

 

Weststar, J. & Legault, M.-J. (2019). Building momentum for collectivity in the digital games community. Television and New Media, 20(8): 848-861. https://doi.org/10.1177/1527476419851087 

  

Weststar, J., Kwan, E. & Kumar, S. (2019). Developer Satisfaction Survey 2019 Summary Report. International Game Developers’ Association. https://igda.org/dss/ 

Campbell, S. & Weststar, J. (2019). Peering inside the ‘black box’: The impact of management-side representatives on the industrial relations climate of organizations. Labor Studies Journal, 45(3): 250-272. https://doi.org/10.1177/0160449X19852696 

 

Weststar, J, & Legault, M-J. (2018). “Women’s experiences on the path to a career in game development.” Feminism in Play. Gray, Voorhees & Vossen (Eds.). Palgrave MacMillan. 

Legault, M.-J. & Weststar, J. (2017) “Videogame developers among ‘extreme workers’: Are death marches over?” E-journal of International and Comparative Labour Studies, 6(3): 1-29. 

Weststar, J. & Legault, M-J. (2017) “Why might a video game developer join a union?” Labor Studies Journal, 42(4): 295-321. 

Skerrett, K., Weststar, J., Archer, S. & Roberts, C. (Eds.). (2017). The Contradictions of Pension Fund Capitalism. Labor and Employment Relations Association Research Volume. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. 

 

LAB PUBLICATIONS AND PRESENTATIONS

Coppins, T., Kwan, T. E., Kumar, S., & Weststar, J. (2020, May 27-30). Exploring Crunch in the Video Game Industry: The Impact of Long Working Hours on Employee Health. [Poster Presentation]. 81st Canadian Psychological Association Annual National Convention, Montréal, Quebec, Canada. (https://convention.cpa.ca/) (Conference cancelled due to COVID-19).

Coppins, T. & Weststar, J. (2019, May 31-June 2) Not in my Occupation: Examining the Effects of Occupational Identification on Unethical Pro-Organizational Behaviour. [Poster Presentation]. 80th Canadian Psychological Association Annual National Convention, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. 

Coppins, T. & Weststar, J. (2020, July 2-4). What About my Occupation? A Multi Foci View of Workplace Identification and Pro-Organizational Unethical Behaviour. [Conference Presentation]. European Group for Organizational Studies 2020 Colloquium, Hamburg, Germany.  [Conference presentation]. European Group for Organizational Studies 2020 Colloquium, Hamburg, Germany.   

Kumar, S. & Weststar, J. (2020, May 27-30). The Motherhood Penalty: Not so Black and White. [Poster Presentation]. 81st Canadian Psychological Association Annual National Convention, Montréal, Quebec. (https://convention.cpa.ca/) (Conference cancelled due to COVID-19). 

Kwan, T. E., Coppins, T., Kumar, S., & Weststar, J. (2020, May 27-30).  Game Developer Association Membership Buffers Perceived Inequity's Negative Effect on Satisfaction. [Poster Presentation]. 81st Canadian Psychological Association Annual National Convention, Montréal, Quebec, Canada. (https://convention.cpa.ca/) (Conference cancelled due to COVID-19) 

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