Global prize for Flinders psychologist

A research career dedicated to tackling gambling and gaming addiction has led to Flinders University’s Associate Professor Daniel King being named a Universal Scientific Education and Research Network (USERN) Laureate for 2021.

An international award established in 2016, the USERN prize is awarded annually to scientists or researchers aged under 40 for any novel advancement or achievement in scientific education, research, or serving humanity.

One Laureate is awarded for each scientific field – Formal Sciences, Physical-Chemical Sciences, Biological Sciences, Medical Sciences, and Social Sciences – with Associate Professor King named as the 2021 Laureate in the field of Social Sciences.

“I feel very honoured to accept the USERN Prize. I share this prize with my national and international colleagues,” says Associate Professor King, a Senior Research Fellow and clinical psychologist in the College of Education, Psychology, & Social Work.

“This is recognition of many team efforts and collaborative projects to understand and respond to problem gaming and it is great encouragement for our future endeavours in this rapidly growing and challenging area of research.”

The prize ceremony was held in Turkey and online. Image: USERN, Facebook

Alongside a statuette, medal and cash prize, the award will also see Associate Professor King join the USERN board as an honorary advisory member for 3 years, joining other top scientists and Nobel Laureates.

An author of over 150 peer reviewed journals and books, Associate Professor King has provided consultation on gaming and gambling for national and international authorities, including the World Health Organization, and has received multiple national awards for excellence in research.

More recently Associate Professor King’s focus has turned to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact and influence on people’s gaming behaviours.

“It’s not surprising that in a time when most people around the world have been encouraged to stay at home that video game companies have experienced one of their most profitable periods for quite some time,” says Associate Professor King.

“However, the pandemic comes not long after the World Health Organization’s decision in 2019 to recognise problem gaming under two distinct health problems, ‘Hazardous Gaming’ and ‘Gaming Disorder’ – so it’s important we acknowledge that gaming is not always beneficial for everyone and some vulnerable users experience negative consequences due to their excessive gaming behaviour.”

“What’s needed is further research, particularly more epidemiological and clinical studies, so we can understand and support the needs of problematic users, while taking a balanced perspective that acknowledges the benefits of recreational gaming that have existed for quite some time and will continue to do so into the future.”

Associate Professor King explored the topic at a recent Flinders University BRAVE public lecture, a recording of which is now available.

Professor Mike Nicholls, Dean (Research) of the College of Education, Psychology and Social Work, congratulated Associate Professor King on receiving the award, saying it was richly deserved.

“The College of Education, Psychology and Social Work strives to produce research that is impactful and improves people’s lives and Dan’s research into problematic gaming is a good example of this impact,” says Professor Nicholls

“His research has changed the way people think about problematic gaming and the USERN prize acknowledges the paradigm shift that Dan has produced.”

Established in 2016, the Universal Scientific Education and Research Network (USERN) is a non-government, not-for-profit international network organised for the advancement of authentic, ethical and professional scientific research and education and consequently the advancement of science for non-military purposes and public good.

The USERN Prizes were awarded on November 10, the UN Day of Science for Peace and Development, during the USERN Congress held in Istanbul, Turkey and online, with Associate Professor King’s awarded accepted on his behalf by a representative of the Australian Embassy in Istanbul.

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