Saturday, 5 November 2011

Geek, Gamer and Possible Creative Genius

Alright everyone, I've got some shocking news for you all. You may want to take a seat.

*pulls up a chair and sighs heavily, clasping her hands and looking over her spectacles in a very serious manner*

Video games might not actually be the root of all evil as the media had first imagined. In fact, they might actually be beneficial to children through boosting their creativity. Do you realise what this means? It means tabloids will have to find other scapegoats for riots and crime - they might even have to engage with multiple issues and contributing factors, ranging from inequality to abuse. We're taking a scary leap into the unknown here, people - brace yourselves!

To be honest with you though I'm actually quite happy with this news. The study was carried out by Michigan State University and investigated the technology habits of 500 children, eventually reaching the conclusion that children who played more video games were more creative than those who didn't. They also found that girls tended to play more games which were based around interaction and boys favoured games centred around combat and violence. I apologise in advance to the majority of sensible readers who are reading this post, but unfortunately I have to clarify something for any sexists who have wandered onto this blog: this finding does not give you license to pressure people into archaic gender roles and nor does it support the idea that one gender is somehow superior to the other.

In actual fact the results showed no difference in creativity between children of either gender and also no disparities between children of different race. Interestingly children who used technology frequently but didn't play videogames did not display this increase in creativity, so it must be at least partially due to the problem-solving skills and reactions required by a program which actively requires the user's attention.

Although this finding is flattering to us gamers, there are a few issues which remain unresolved from the limited freely available information. Firstly, the test which the study used to determine creativity is subjective - although this is an inevitable consequence of measuring something unquantifiable it is still subject to some bias. Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, it remains unclear whether videogames attract creatively-minded children or if it is actually playing games which contributes to an active imagination. A study of a large sample group over several points in time would help to resolve this ambiguity and I'd love to see a study which took these questions into account.

The full study is available in the journal Computers in Human Behaviour but unfortunately I need to pay to access it. If anyone can provide me with further details of the methodology or datasets I'd be very grateful, I still have a lot of unanswered questions about this flattering finding. Still, it's given me the perfect excuse to play more World of Warcraft and Left 4 Dead and provided further justification for buying a beast of a gaming machine a few weeks ago. It helps me with my writing, honest, guv'nor.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks MU - most useful. Our eldest is a Warcraft nut and our youngest has just moved up from Club Penguin and they both seem creative enough! I'm more worried about snacking at the computer tbh - that def. is a bad habit.