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Video Games and Virtual Environments increase Creativity in Children

Such are the findings of a study performed by Linda Jackson professor of psychology and her team at Michigan State University. A large-scale study including nearly 500 12-year-olds, found a strong correlation between increasing video-game usage and increased creativity.

In contrast other uses of technology such as computers for non gaming purposes, mobile phone usage and other interactive tasks did not show a correlation with creativity. Whilst the study did not address virtual environments directly, the close ties between VR environments used for fun purposes, and video game,s does strongly suggest the research applies to them equally.

As Linda Jackson put it, this study should help motivate designers to isolate which aspects of the games (and virtual environments) are most responsible for inspiring creativity in children, which would result in far more useful edugames and serious virtual worlds.

“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,” Jackson said.

The researchers surveyed 491 middle-school students as part of MSU’s Children and Technology Project, which is funded by the National Science Foundation. The survey assessed how often the students used different forms of technology and gauged their creativity with the widely used Torrance Test of Creativity-Figural. The Torrance test involved tasks such as drawing an “interesting and exciting” picture from a curved shape, giving the picture a title and then writing a story about it.

In addition, the study found that boys played video games more than girls, and that boys favored games of violence and sports while girls favored games involving interaction with others (human or nonhuman).
Yet, regardless of gender, race or type of game played by the students, the study found a relation between video game playing and greater creativity. No relationship was found between the level of violence and creativity. Rathert the only requirement seemed to be the level of enjoyment and engagement the child felt whilst involved in their gaming or exploration. The more fun they had, the more creative they became.

References

Video game playing tied to creativity

Information technology use and creativity: Findings from the Children and Technology Project (Paid-access PDF)

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