About Me

Background

Keep Calm and Game OnSpace shipSpace ship projectile

I graduated from the University of Texas at Dallas in May 2005 with a B.A. in Psychology. As I always had an interest in psychotherapy, I began looking into various clinical graduate programs shortly after graduation and enrolled in the M.A. Counseling Psychology program at Santa Clara University in 2006. My time at SCU was exceptionally rewarding, both professionally and personally, as it provided me with first-hand experience as to how psychological research can be applied to real-world situations and scenarios. However, it was clear to me early on that I was more interested in pursuing a research-based, rather than clinical, career in psychology. My supervisor at the time had casually mentioned a recent influx of concern from her clients relating to the potential negative impact of video game use, particularly online video game use. At the time, the research in this area was scarce, which left clinicians with little information to disseminate to their clients. As an online gamer myself, the idea of pursuing a PhD research project on this topic intrigued me and I soon began searching for a suitable research-based PhD program.

I completed my PhD at the University of York in York, England. Under the supervision of Dr. Julian Oldmeadow, my work aligned across two branches of inquiry: the cultural stereotype of online gamers and the relationship between social (in)competence and online video game involvement. In 2015, my PhD thesis was published by Routledge as a research monograph entitled Video games and social competence.

Following my PhD, I completed a 2-year post doctoral position working with Prof. Dr. Thorsten Quandt at the University of Münster in Germany as an associate researcher for the large-scale, ERC-project “SOFOGA” (Social Foundations of Online Gaming). SOFOGA was a three-year project examining a range of game-related variables among a representative German sample and remains the largest EU-funded games research project to date. My work in this project focused on examining the potential inter- and intra-personal social impact of online video game involvement.

Today

I am currently the Research Director for Take This, a non-profit organization that provides mental health information and resources to the gaming community and industry. I am also the Chief Scientific Officer of Kitsune Analytics.

Research

My research interests are largely focused on the potential positive and negative social impact of mediated communication at the individual level. Specifically, I am interested in developing a greater understanding of the uses, applications, and impacts of mediated socialization (e.g., online games, social networking websites, chat rooms, etc.) on ones’ inter- and intra-personal social and psychological well-being, particularly among socially vulnerable populations (e.g., socially anxious, lonely, geographically isolated, etc.). I am also interested in further exploring the potential for mediated social outlets to be enlisted as platforms for behavioral therapies (such as social skills training for the socially inhibited or anxious) and the relationships between video game play motivations, enjoyment, and satisfaction through the perspective of self-determination theory.

Currently, my research is primarily focused on the social impact of online games. This includes addressing the anecdotal claim that online game players are socially different/deficient as compared to offline or non-players, examining the impact of online video game play on offline friendship networks, and evaluating the tangible social benefits of online game play. My work in this area also aims to uncover the potential origin of any social differences (e.g., social compensation, displacement, or augmentation processes) by enlisting various methodological and statistical approaches.

In addition to my individual scientific pursuits, I am interested in uncovering new approaches to disseminating scientific information in ways that are accessible, understandable, and relatable to non-scientific audiences.

Current Projects

  • Examining the links between unintentional learning, knowledge transfer, and psychological well-being within digital games
  • Assessing Internet Gaming Disorder as a primary or secondary diagnosis
  • Identifying initiates to better understand and mitigate dark participation within gaming cultures
  • Reconceptualizing “video game involvement”
  • Evaluating the potential for video game play to mitigate symptoms of PTSD among veterans