Video Games Plant the Seeds of Creativity in Children's Minds

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I was under the impression that it took a creative person to fully appreciate everything video games have to offer. According to recent research conducted at Michigan State University, I may have had that backwards. Does playing video games make you more creative?


Researchers surveyed nearly 500 middle-school students as part of MSU's Children and Technology Project in order to establish their usage of technology, including video games, cell phones, and the internet.

Once these figures were established, the researches gauged the children's creativity utilizing the Torrance Test of Creativity-Figural. This is a series of questions and activities that scientist use to gauge the creative powers of the mind. For example, the children were tasked with creating an interesting and exciting picture out of a standard curved shape. Then they had to write a story about it; the sort of things they give gifted program students to do to keep them from designing bombs or taking over the world while no one is watching.

While I can't offer a gallery of the results (and I so desperately want to), I can give you the results. Overall, the more children played video games the more creativity they displayed. There was no correlation between internet use or mobile phones with creativity, but game playing got a big yes on someone's clipboard.

This spike in creativity was across the board for game players no matter their preferred genre, their race, or their gender.

The study represents the first solid correlation between our beloved hobby and creativity. Linda Jackson, professor of psychology and lead researcher on the project, said that now that video game developers know they can influence creativity, they can determine which aspects of gaming affect creativity.

"Once they do that, video games can be designed to optimize the development of creativity while retaining their entertainment values such that a new generation of video games will blur the distinction between education and entertainment."


Stealth edutainment? What would parents say if they knew video game makers were actively attempting to help their children develop a stronger, more creative mind?

Mind you that given the results, my initial assessment could still stand. Perhaps it's not video games causing creativity to flourish, but creative children naturally drawn to video game worlds? I'm going to need some research grant money, and a sandwich.


Information technology use and creativity: Findings from the Children and Technology Project [Computers and Human Behavior - Thanks, Paul!]



A REAL cross-over between education and entertainment? Now your thinking with portals.

Seriously though. At our company we constantly have the discussion about if we should conform to what people expect, or if we should "educate" our audience to want more than the status quo. Often this is a risk, because you can get burned really badly if you design something that essentially "innovates", which is what people say they want, but hate when they get.

It mostly comes down to a compromise to ensure that people will know how to do something they have never done before.