Scheduled to be published in the March 2011 edition of the journal Computers in Human Behavior, new research shows that interaction with video games increases the creativity of children. The study was originally designed to test a link between technology use and creativity, but only video games showed a sizable impact on creativity on both boys and girls. Other technology such as smartphones, computers and the Internet didn’t show similar results. The test was conducted on a sample group of 491 12-year-old children by researchers involved in at Michigan State University’s Children and Technology Project.
Linda Jackson, the lead researcher on the project, tested children by asking them to draw an “interesting and exciting” picture starting with a curved shape already printed on the page. Follow-up tasks included writing a story about the picture as well as giving both a title. This is known as the Torrance Test of Creativity Thinking, a widely used test for creativity measurement. After being exposed to video games, there was a clear increase in creativity of the submitted work. It didn’t matter if the games were non-violent or violent, but boys preferred sports and violent games while girls preferred games that promoted interaction between both human and computer generated characters. There was also no correlation to race, gender or genre of game played.
The set of games used in the test included Need for Speed, The Legend of Zelda, Madden NFL Football, Super Smash Brothers, Animal Crossing, Half-Life 2, Spider Solitaire and various Star Wars titles. The researchers hope that the findings from the study will be analyzed by gaming developers and publishers in order to specifically identify elements of a game that increase creativity. With that further research, a gaming developer could create a highly successful series of games that blur the line between entertainment and education.