Children who play video games are more creative than children who don’t, says a Michigan State University study released today.
Researchers studied nearly 500 12-year-olds for the report, and found that those who played video games tended to be more creative than non-gaming children, regardless of whether or not those games were violent. The trend was consistent in both boys and girls.
The study also found the more a child plays video games, the more creative he or she is.
Linda Jackson, the project’s lead researcher, said it is important to now find what aspects of video gaming cultivate creativity.
"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 in a press release.
Researchers gave the middle-school subjects various creative thinking tasks, like writing and drawing. In one test, students were asked to draw an “interesting and exciting” picture, title it and write a story about it.
Participants were then asked to explain their technology usage; cell phones, video games, Internet and computers.
Only video gaming provided a correlation to creativity, researchers found.
"Not only are (video games) not all bad, there's some 'intellectual' good to be found in playing them," Jackson told USA Today. "We are the first to look at creativity and technology use, finding that no other technologies except video games was positively related to creativity."
Most striking is the finding that video gaming correlates to creativity given any number of variables. Gender, age, race and genre of video game all have no effect on the correlation.
The study found that boys tend to play more video games than girls. Boys gravitate towards sports and violent games, while girls play games of interaction-both human and non-human.
In contrast, some psychology professionals say it’s dangerous to make such theoretical leaps. In a study regarding video games and violence, psychologist Lawrence Kutner and sociologist Cheryl K. Olson wrote in Psychiatric Times, “It must be emphasized that correlational studies, including ours, cannot show whether video games cause particular behaviors. Far too frequently, this important distinction between correlation and causation is overlooked.”
Over 70 percent of U.S. households play video games, according to Entertain Software Association. The worldwide video game market is valued at $65 billion.
The National Science Foundation funded the study. Research was published online in the journal, Computers on Human Behavior.