Kids who play videogames can become overwhelmed with positive feedback loops and can’t stop playing. They’ll risk peeing their pants or making parents angry just for one more minute of game time. But all of the time spent playing games isn’t rotting their brains. For 12-year-olds, the amount of time spent playing videogames is correlated with creativity in drawing and writing stories. In comparison, cell phone and Internet use was not correlated with creativity.
The lead researcher on the project, Linda Jackson, thinks her study will motivate game designers to figure out what about them enourages creativity.
Once they [pinpoint creativity-enhancing design aspects], 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.
Optimizing “creativity development” sounds kind of depressing, but could lend games an air of legitimacy they don’t usually get from educators. Games are already educational, but often in more abstract problem-solving rather than teaching a specific skill set.