Some Video Games Can Increase the Player's Creativity

Some Video Games Can Increase the Player's Creativity

David C. Moffat (Glasgow Caledonian University, Digital Design Technologies, Glasgow, United Kingdom), William Crombie (Glasgow Caledonian University, Digital Design Technologies, Glasgow, United Kingdom) and Olga Shabalina (Volgograd State Technical University, CAD Department, Volgograd, Russia)
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 12
DOI: 10.4018/IJGBL.2017040103
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Abstract

It is said that playing video games might make people more creative. There is some evidence of an association, but no so far general theory about any psychological causes, or other key factors. In this study, we test the possibility that different sorts of video games may have different effects, on different types of creativity; or none at all. Three games were tested, including a sandbox and a puzzle game (Minecraft and Portal 2), and creativity was measured by the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking (TTCT). The games were hound to have different effects, and on only some measures. We discuss possible accounts for these results, and offer practical suggestions to better control such studies in future. The strongest and most surprising result was that one particular form of creativity, flexibility, was affected much more than others. This finding awaits a theoretical explanation; but in the meantime, the implication is that video games could be used to put students into a more creative state of mind, which may be useful for their learning.
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Introduction

Serious games and game-based learning (GBL) are increasingly used to teach school subjects like history and arithmetic. They can convey curriculum knowledge, or motivate students to learn the subject, or encourage them to practice their skills. As well as specific subject knowledge, however, students also need to develop more general cognitive skills. One example of this is creativity, which is recognised as increasingly important in the modern economy. It would be very beneficial to students, and society at large, if we could find reliable ways to encourage and develop creativity in the education system.

Video games might be one way to do this. There is already a connection between games and creativity, in the concept of flow. This concept was originally derived by Csikszentmihalyi (1996) from his study of highly creative people; but it is now routinely used by game designers to describe the mental state they aim to achieve in their players. While many types or genres of games may induce a state of flow, however, it might not be the case that they all have the same effects on creativity.

Apart from the discovery that flow is often associated with it, creativity is generally characterised as or defined to be the cognitive capacity to generate novel ideas that are valuable in some domain, but that are not obvious to most people (Amabile, & Csikszentmihalyi, both 1996). It can take on an exploratory character, such as when jazz musicians improvise for example; or creativity may be evident in solving problems, such as in scientific or engineering domains.

In the following, we report an experiment to see if different kinds of game, including one with exploratory gameplay (a sandbox game), and another with problem solving (a puzzle game), would have a measurable effect on players' creativity. As a control, we had a third game also, which was an FPS game (first-person shooter), and which was not expected to have much effect, if at all.

The aim was not to see if there would be any long-term or permanent changes wrought. That would be good to achieve, but presumably would be more difficult to establish. In this initial work, then, we aimed only to see if a short-term or temporary effect might be induced. That could already be useful in a classroom situation, such as at the start of an art or music lesson perhaps. In a temporarily heightened state of creativity, the students might do better work; and that could help them to be more confident of their creative powers in future. Such a change in attitude might well outlast the temporary mental change that caused it.

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