New research from Iowa State University claims that playing video games that promote creative freedom can enhance creativity under specific conditions. The observations compared the impact of playing Minecraft, with and without instruction, to watching a TV show or playing a race car video game. People playing Minecraft without given instructions were found to be the most creative.
Douglas Gentile, a professor of psychology, said that the study participants randomly assigned to play Minecraft were separated into two groups. The group that received instructions was told to play as creatively as they can.
After 40 minutes of play or watching TV, the 352 people had to complete a few creativity tasks. To measure the creative production, they were told to draw a creature from another world, which is way different than Earth. Creatures looking more like humans were scored as low creativity, and those less human-like were assessed as highly creative. To the team’s surprise, participants that were instructed to play Minecraft as creative as they can scored the lowest.
Games provoke creativity that is aggression-like
Video games can also have harmful effects on people. Gentile’s previous study has proved the amount, content, and context of video games affect what players learn through repeated events. Even though much of Gentile’s research was concentrated on aggression or prosocial behavior, he says this seems to apply for creativity as well.
The majority of video games simulate players to practice a certain level of creativity. For instance, players may design a character and story for role-playing games or be awarded for creative techniques in competitive games. The team of researchers explains that even first-person shooter games can eventually stimulate creativity as players think about strategy and seek advantages in battles.
Gentile said that the results of the study are similar to other gaming research in that one improves at what one practices, but how they practice is also important.