The next time someone says there’s no future in playing video games, you can point them here.

Twitch.TV, Alienware and SteelSeries awarded five $10,000 scholarships to students after receiving hundreds of applications for their scholarship program, announced in June.

One of the winners is Kelli Dunlap, a 26-year-old doctoral candidate at the American School of Professional Psychology in Washington, D.C. If it seems difficult for a graduate student to balance studies and a gaming lifestyle, it helps that Dunlap’s thesis is about intense gaming — specifically, its effect on people’s health and well-being.

Dunlap’s hypothesis goes against the beliefs of many TV pundits who demonize games as encouraging addictive behavior. She says that people with negative or addictive personality traits can be attracted to gaming just like any other recreational activity. In short, it’s not the gaming that’s the problem, it’s the personality of the player.

“Video games are inherently rewarding. There is so much positive stimulation, and if you don’t have that in your concrete life, it can be really alluring,” Dunlap says. “Anything can be abused if there is a void they are trying to fill, or there is something [people] are trying to avoid.”

Dunlap says she’s already collected all her data on a broad spectrum of gamers through online surveys. She also has her own gaming habits as anecdotal evidence. Dunlap has been playing (and dominating) Halo since she picked up the first game in 2003. She says that when she was filling out her application for the Twitch scholarship, she emphasized in her essays that being involved in the gaming and Halo communities has helped her with her research, especially when it came time to look for people to interview.

“She was just perfect for the kind of people we wanted to help out,” says Twitch’s vice president of marketing Matthew DiPetrio. “She had gaming, ability and passion combined with academic ability and ambition. Gaming is becoming so much more than a solitary experience. This is just another example of the way gaming is expanding beyond its original borders.”

Other scholarship winners, all picked based on their grades, skill and passion for the gaming community are:

  • Kevin Carlino, a Diablo player and video producer studying computer science at Arizona State.

  • John Stockwell, a Team Fortress 2 player majoring in computer science at Pennsylvania State University.

  • Antonio Revard, a former professional Counter-Strike player, Twitch broadcaster, and video game design major at Michigan State.

  • Joey Yurgelon, a StarCraft and League of Legends player studying mechanical engineering at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2012/09/06/gaming-scholarship-twitch/

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