Kids who play video games are more creative

Both boys and girls who play video games tend to be more creative – even if the games they’re playing are violent.

A study by Michigan State University of nearly 500 12-year-olds found that the more kids played video games, the more creative they were in tasks such as drawing pictures and writing stories.

While games were associated with creaivity, other computer use wasn’t – which could come as a bit of a blow to parents who have rationed game playing but encouraged more educational computer activities.

The study was part of MSU’s Children and Technology Project,  funded by the National Science Foundation. It assessed how often the students used different forms of technology, and then gauged their creativity with the widely used Torrance Test of Creativity-Figural.

This involves tasks such as drawing an ‘interesting and exciting’ picture from a curved shape, giving it a title and then writing a story about it.

The results showed that boys played video games more than girls. The boys favored games of violence and sports, while girls tended to go for games that involve interaction with others.

Both, though, appeared to be more creative the more they played, regardless of race or type of game.

Linda Jackson, professor of psychology, thinks that games designers should be nudged into finding out exactly which aspects of games are responsible for the creative effects.

“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,” she says.

She’s perhaps being a bit optimistic: studies showing that violent games make players more violent don’t seem to have had much effect on game content.