My PhD thesis focuses on the wellbeing and socialisation outcomes in autistic and neurotypical video game players online and offline. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Video Game Addiction (VGA) share a diagnostic overlap - high intensity engagement. In such instances, clinicians might find it difficult to diagnose individuals who engage with video games to a large extent. In the worst case scenario, such individuals might receive an incorrect diagnosis, reducing the chances of these individuals to receive the support they need. To dive deeper into this diagnostic overlap, and to reveal how the two disorders could be told apart on the plane of engagement, my thesis will look at the autistic and neurotypical populations engage with video games. This investigation will look at how they use video games, what the socialisation and wellbeing outcomes are, and how their behaviour differs between online and offline interactions. Using this, I am to derive more defined diagnostic criteria for both ASD and VGA based on engagement.
My past research, conducted at University College London, was primarily focused on the psychology of video games.
My Bachelor's thesis, published in Frontiers in Psychology, investigated the relationship between violent video games and aggression dimesions. We measured violent video game choice based on players' favourite video games using the corresponding PEGI ratings. This was then mediated and regressed onto aggression dimensions, alongside narcissism and aggression. We found that violent video games were significantly related to verbal aggression and hostility. This also held true for narcissism and self-esteem. I recommended that PEGI ratings be legally enforcable in the countries of operation, as well as that PEGI ratings be revised to be more informative and in-depth.
My Master's thesis, currently being submitted for publication, investigated the differences in emotional intensity and bodily representation between first-person and third-person virtual reality. We measured disgust, threat and danger intensity in response to combat in The Witcher 3 from both 1st and 3rd person perspectvie. We found that first-person yielded stronger emotional intensities than third-person, and that different immersion mechanisms accounted for this difference (embodiment for 1st person; body transfer for 3rd person). I recommended that 3rd person virtual reality experiences be applied to phobia and post-traumatic stress disorder treatment paradigms, for example systematic desensitisation, to allow for more gradual courses of treatment.
I also had the privilege of working at SpiersLab, state of the art navigation research lab at University College London. I worked on the project that aimed to establish a baseline of navigation performance. In this project, we tested navigation ability in vivo and in vitro. We first navigation administered trials in Sea Hero Quest, a navigation mobile video game. We then followed the same participants who first walked streets of London using Google Maps, and then were asked to navigate to landmarks without Google Maps, from memory.