WESTSTAR LAB

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

OUR RESEARCH

 

We’re an eclectic bunch united by broad interests in studying project-based knowledge work, occupational and professional identity, worker agency and autonomy, citizenship at work/industrial citizenship (not to be confused with organizational citizenship behaviour), and issues of Equity, 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 the following 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 2023. Reports can be found at http://gameqol.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), Jennifer Whitson (University of Waterloo) and Alison Harvey (York University) 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 and other members of marginalized groups.  

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.​

 

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. A Time 1 survey was conducted in mid-2020 with a Time 2 survey anticipated by early 2022. 

MEET THE LAB

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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. My main research focus falls under the emerging field of digital game production studies.  I 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, EDI issues ...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, two cats, play the ukulele and love board games. 

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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. 

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Eva Kwan

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

 

In her master's thesis, she examined the relationship between mentorship and gender on perceptions of competence in the workplace.  

 

She has worked with non-profits such as the International Game Developers Association (IGDA) and the Trillium Network for Advanced Manufacturing. With the former, she collaborated on the Developer Satisfaction Survey 2019 and 2021 summary reports. With the latter, her work focused on company practices for gender diversity and inclusion and racialized women leaders' experiences the Ontario manufacturing sector.

 

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

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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. 

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Vishal Sooknanan

 

Vishal (He/Him) is currently pursuing his MSc. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology under the supervision of Dr. Johanna Weststar. Prior to finding a passion for psychological research, Vishal worked as a marketing researcher and strategist. Working in the industry has fueled a desire to enact positive change in modern workplaces through research.

 

Broadly, his research interests focus on diversity and inclusion practices in the workplace. Through his research, he hopes to better understand the unique challenges faced by racial and sexual minority groups. Currently, Vishal is working on contributing to the International Game Developers Association (IGDA) Diversity Report and looks forward to working on future industry reports, research projects and his thesis.

 

When he’s taking a break from work, Vishal loves to get active by heading out for a run or to the gym. He loves to experience new foods and then try, sometimes fail, to recreate them at home. After that, he’s probably reading a good book or playing a great RPG.

JOINING THE LAB

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

I am not accepting graduate student applicants for 2022-2023

SELECTED PUBLICATIONS AND PRESENTATIONS

 

Weststar, J., Kumar, S., Coppins, T., Kwan, E. & Inceefe, E. (September 13, 2021). Developer Satisfaction Survey 2021 Summary Report. International Game Developers Association. https://igda.org/dss/

 

Weststar, J. (September 8, 2021). Activision Blizzard's sexual harassment scandal is not a one-off for the gaming industry. The Conversation. https://theconversation.com/activision-blizzards-sexual-harassment-scandal-is-not-a-one-off-for-the-gaming-industry-166729

 

Weststar, J. (July 18, 2021). Developer Satisfaction Survey 2021: Report on the Impact of COVID-19. International Game Developers Association. https://igda.org/dss/

 

Kwan, E., Miller, S., Sweeney, B., & Watson, T. (2021). Bridges, Not Barriers: Advancing Racialized Women in Ontario Manufacturing. https://trilliummfg.ca/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Trillium_Network_Racialized-Women-and-Ontario-Manufacturing.pdf

 

Weststar, J. & Kumar, S. (January 19, 2021). Impact of COVID-19 on working arrangements and work experiences at Western University. Scholarship at Western. https://works.bepress.com/johanna_weststar/39/

 

Dubois, L-E. & Weststar, J. (2021). Games-as-a-Service: Conflicted identities on the new front

line of video game development. New Media and Society, https://doi.org/10.1177/1461444821995815

 

Weststar, J. & Kumar, S. (November 18, 2020). Developer Satisfaction Survey 2019 Industry Trends and Future Outlook Report. International Game Developers’ Association. https://igda.org/dss/ 

 

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. 

 

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)