Rachel Kowert, Ph.D is a research psychologist, the Research Director of Take This, and founder of Psychgeist, a multimedia content production studio for video and print content about the science of games and pop culture. She is a world-renowned researcher on the uses and effects of digital games, including their impact on physical, social, and psychological well-being. She has spoken about her work to thousands of people across the globe, including the United States Congress, United Nations, and Department of Homeland Security. An award-winning author, she has published a variety of books and scientific articles relating to the psychology of games and, more recently, the relationship between games and mental health specifically.
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 serve as the Research Director for Take This, a mental health non-profit organization that serves the gaming industry and gaming communities. Our primary mission is to destigmatize mental health challenges and provide mental health information and support. I am also a science content creator on YouTube, Psychgeist, where I regularly post content about the science of digital games.
What Rachel's Doing Today
I am currently working on a two-year project funded by the Department of Homeland Security (in collaboration with with the Middlebury Institute of International Studies and Logically AI) examining the landscape of extremist radicalization and recruitment within digital gaming spaces. The primarily aims of this project are to establish a strong baseline for understanding the unique characteristics of extremist activities within video game communities, help build capacity within the gaming industry to prevent and counter violent extremism in these spaces, and create collaborative networks across public and private sectors.
In addition to my research work, I currently have several side projects.
Pragmatic Princess is a series of 26 short-stories about everyday girls, doing everyday things, with their everyday abilities. I successfully kickstarted this project in 2019 and raised nearly $30,000 in 30 days.
Over the last few decades, interest in pop psychology has grown faster than most of our Netflix backlogs. This new series will highlight iconic pop culture content from television, film, literature, and video games through an examination of the psychological mechanisms that endear us to these stories for a lifetime. This series will debut in 2023 from ETC Press.