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Playing Video Games and Your Creative Mind

Creative thinking and expression involves many skills and cognitive abilities, which can be enhanced by all sorts of experiences, even video games.

As reported in a news release, a Michigan State University study concluded that “both boys and girls who play video games tend to be more creative, regardless of whether the games are violent or nonviolent.”

“A study of nearly 500 12-year-olds found that the more kids played video games, the more creative they were in tasks such as drawing pictures and writing stories. In contrast, use of cell phones, the Internet and computers (other than for video games) was unrelated to creativity.”

Professor of psychology Linda Jackson, the lead researcher, said the study “may be the first evidence-based demonstration of a relationship between technology use and creativity.”

Creativity was evaluated using The Torrance Test, which “included tasks such as drawing an ‘interesting and exciting’ picture from a curved shape, giving the picture a title and then writing a story about it.”

The study found that “boys played video games more than girls, and that boys favored games of violence and sports while girls favored games involving interaction with others (human or nonhuman). Yet, regardless of gender, race or type of game played, greater video game playing was the only technology to be associated with greater creativity.”

The press release also notes, “About 72 percent of U.S. households play video or computer games, according to the Entertainment Software Association. The MSU findings should motivate game designers to identify the aspects of video game activity that are responsible for the creative effects, Jackson said.”

“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.

From Video game playing tied to creativity.

The photo at top is from another post on this research: Study Links Creativity to Playing Video Games.

Hilda Huang on gaming and playing Bach

Hilda Huang started playing the piano at the age of three, and won the International Bach Competition in March, 2010, becoming the youngest person to win.

This is from a Big Think Interview With Hilda Huang in 2010, when she was 14. See video below

Question: You once said that playing Bach is like playing Nintendo. How so?

Hilda Huang: “When I was really young, I loved playing video games and I kind of noticed that when you play video games, you have to be really, really focused.

“So if you’re playing maybe ‘Mario Kart’ on the Nintendo 64, so you’re driving along and of course there’s a koopa waiting to hit you. But if you blink or you say, ‘Oh I need to get something to eat or I need some chips,’ so you put your controller down, and, wham, the koopa smashes in to you, so you die and lose a life.

“And of course, in video games, you have plenty of lives, so it’s okay. But in Bach, when you’re performing, you don’t have that kind of a privilege. So you have to stay really focused through the whole thing and you can’t stop.”

Read more quotes of hers on how playing Bach is different from other composers, and a video of her performing, in my post Hilda Huang on Bach and video games; Gina Trapani on multitasking.

British playwright Lucy Prebble, author of the plays The Sugar Syndrome and Enron, among other works, “attacked the popular stereotype of teenage gamers as ‘chubby automatons’ who spend their days shooting virtual enemies and eating [snacks],” according to a newspaper article.

“The award-winning writer said playing video games requires more involvement and creative input than reading a book or watching a film – and also offers more opportunities to be active and sociable.

“Rather than being vilified, video games should be recognised as an art form appreciated for the way they tugged at our emotions and stimulated creativity, Prebble said.”

She also commented that gaming “was similar to writing, in that both are private, creative activities very different to watching films or reading books, which involve less input.”

From Video games ‘more creative than reading’ by Nick Collins, The Telegraph, 12 Feb 2012.

Actor, writer, producer Felicia Day created her web series “The Guild” [dvd] based on her passion for gaming.

From my post Felicia Day on Being Creatively Bored and Developing Her Own Project.

The book Video Games and Learning: Teaching and Participatory Culture in the Digital Age, by Kurt Squire, declares “Good games inspire interest, creativity, and social interaction.”

My earlier post Designing Video Games for Mental Health mentions some of the emotional and cognitive aspects of games.

Are you a game player? If so, what is your take on this topic of gaming and developing creativity?


Playing Video Games and Your Creative Mind

Douglas Eby

Douglas EbyDouglas Eby, MA/Psychology, is a writer and researcher on psychology and personal development related to creativity; creator of the , and author of books including [link to book site with excerpts.]
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APA Reference
Eby, D. (2019). Playing Video Games and Your Creative Mind. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 11, 2020, from


Last updated: 26 Mar 2019
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