Creativity Linked to Video Games
Do you ever remember your parents making you put your video games down and go outside, or being grounded from them for weeks at a time? If so, a recent study that links video game playing to creativity may prove that this is what they should have had you do more often! The study, conducted by the Michigan State University’s Children and Technology Project, tested nearly 500 12-year olds using creative thinking tests and then asked about their use of cellphones, computers, the Internet and video games. Video games were the only one that had a correlation to creativity (USA Today). It also found that boys play more often than girls (obviously), and that they prefer more violent or sports games as opposed to games involving interaction with others, which girls prefer.
The study also found that video game players have better video-spatial skills which transfer over to stronger skills in math, science, technology, and engineering. Earlier studies showed that reading skills were also enhanced as a result of games because many of them required the player to read. Although this research shows a correlation to creativity, if a causal link can be shown it could have a tremendous effect on the way games are created and promoted, being geared more towards education than entertainment. The Wii and Kinect have already shown that video games can combat traditional stereotypes of inactivity and are going in a different direction by creating games that involve movement. Some games are even promoted as a fitness tool!
These findings may seem really obvious to some people because video games actually require a great deal of problem solving and imagination. A professor of psychology at Michigan State poses a few questions for what could be the causal link between games and creativity. She questions that it is the rapid succession of images that requires the mind to track several images simultaneously, the virtual environment and feeling that one is actually present in the game, or the fact that these games ignore reality and opens doors in children’s minds (USA Today). All of these things seem quite plausible, and if you think about the game creators they are obviously incredibly creative, so some of that should probably leak over to the developing mind of a child.
While I am very intrigued by this idea that video games have something to do with creativity (if it is the case I wish my parents would have encouraged them more), I am not completely satisfied with the research. I wonder if creative individuals are actually more inclined to play video games, not the other way around. I would also like to know if this was the only link that researchers found in this study. What about correlations to attention span, social skills, empathy, or violence? I’m sure these factors have been studied in the past, and I wonder which correlations would be strongest if they do indeed exist.
Research proving a correlation to creativity may eventually be a factor in how some video games are produced and marketed, but I am curious if there will be a significant change in the industry as a result.
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