Over the last two weeks, we’ve looked at cognitive, health, personality and social benefits; today we’ll have a look at creativity! Plus a sneaky disclaimer at the end. 😛
Warning: This is going to be a link-extensive post!
Video Games Improve Creativity
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, the study found.
~From Michigan State University Today: Video Game Playing Tied to Creativity
This is my favourite part of the whole series, so it warrants an entire section to itself. 😆
Have you ever paused to think how much creativity is required to make a video game? You’d need someone for soundtrack, storyline, character / background / monster / etc designs, animations… and I haven’t even gone into other areas like menu / level / difficulty design and more yet!
“But hey, that’s for video game creators!” you might argue, “What about the players?”
Hold your horses, ponies and unicorns, I’m getting there. 🐎
Art and Imagination
A study published in the June issue of the journal Brain and Cognition looked at the research that neuroscientists have done while scanning the brains of people looking at paintings. (…) Viewing paintings triggered responses in brain regions associated with visual understanding and object recognition, as might be expected, but viewing artwork also was connected to activity associated with emotions, inner thoughts, and learning.
~From Business Insider: You Can Boost Your Creativity by Looking at Art
Even without the above article snippet, we know that looking at art can spark our imagination. If paintings can do so, why not video games? With these 10 visually stunning video games, it’s hard not to call them art!
And wouldn’t looking at such beautiful art make you feel like creating art yourself? There are loads of fan art, fan fiction and even soundtrack remixes online for video games, which I believe shows how video games can inspire creativity. 🎨
My personal favourite visually stunning game? It’s a bit old but I’d have to say Okami! It’s a role-playing game (more on types of video games next week) based on Japanese mythology, so the developers made the graphics look like traditional Japanese paintings! (In case you’re wondering about that white wolf, yes, that’s the main character you run around with. Really cute. 🐺)
Appreciation for Music
[Insert quote here. 😆]
I’d quote some scientific studies here, except there are so many that they’d derail this post into “benefits of
playing video games music”! That’s why the “Mozart effect” was popular many years ago (heck, even my mum played classical music when I was still in the womb!) and why there are music appreciation classes (except I didn’t know there’s such a class until I’m well into my 20s 😅).
If you’ve watched a movie, I’m sure you’d know how music can heighten the emotion of a particular scene. Video game music do the same, except for a few differences; it’s rather long for me to get into it, so if you’re interested to learn this more in detail, do read this article! It’s a fascinating read, especially if you are / learning / thinking of composing music. 😀
I love video game soundtracks, because I love music that tells a story without words and makes me imagine! Like a loud, dramatic theme for an important fight, a quiet, gentle theme for a touching / sad moment, a peaceful, flowing theme for travelling through a forest. And I love how they try and match the theme, setting and genre of the game! Remember Okami, the Japanese mythology-based game from the previous section? The music in the game have a traditional Japanese feel to it, and they even included traditional instruments like the koto. 😀
Isn’t that what music should do, tell us a story? 🎼
Like all media with a story, video games can help spark our imagination in storytelling, especially when they allow us to immerse ourselves in the scenery and participate in the stories themselves! Some games have multiple endings that our choices affect, others allow for a different experience (like choosing to punch an obnoxious reporter rather than persuade him/her to go away), and when we work hard to defeat the final villain, that ending soundtrack just sounds a lot more touching. 😀
My personal favourite game stories are:
- Chrono Trigger: time travellers trying to prevent a worldwide catastrophe in year 1999 that will doom humankind to near extinction by year 2300.
- Final Fantasy VII: an eco-terrorist group fighting against a megacorporation drawing the planet’s life essence as electricity and a powerful man bent on destroying the world.
- Suikoden II: friends separated by a war and end up being on opposing sides; yet they have no choice but to fight.
- Wild Arms (and its remake Wild Arms Alter Code: F): three wanderers and a shaman princess fight to prevent alien demons from taking over the world, yet the Guardians of the world are powerless – because the human hearts are too weak.
I especially love stories where it isn’t the good-vs-evil kind, where everyone has his/her reasons for doing whatever they’re doing. 🙂
And, Of Course, A Disclaimer
Well, just because this is a “benefits of playing video games” blog series doesn’t mean I won’t touch on the downside! Here are some food for thought before you run off to buy a video game:
Too Much of a Good Thing isn’t Good
You know they always say, everything in moderation! Well, when is too much a good thing ever good for us? Video games are beneficial to us (as we’ve seen in this series), but too muchof playing video games (or watching TV or reading books, for that matter) may lead to a sedentary lifestyle, lack of social life, etc. 🙁
How much is too much, though?
A new study out of Oxford University has found that children who play console or PC games for an hour or less per day tend to be more social and satisfied with life than kids who don’t play any video games at all.
(…) There’s no noticeable effect, positive or negative, for kids who play one to three hours of video games compared to kids who play none.
(…) The researcher found children playing [more than three hours] every day are more likely to be less happy than non-gamers, as well as more likely to have problems with hyperactivity, attention and relating to their peers.
~From Huffington Post: Scientist Discovers the Ideal Amount of Time Kids Should Spend Playing Video Games
Oops. I used to play video games all day as a kid, so… but hey, even back then I had multiple hobbies such as writing, drawing and toys, so I guess I didn’t turn out too bad. 😆
Different Games Bring Different Benefits
“One can no more say what the effects of video games are, than one can say what the effects of food are. There are millions of individual games, hundreds of distinct genres and sub-genres, and they can be played on computers, consoles, hand-held devices and cell phones. Simply put, if one wants to know what the effects of video games are, the devil is in the details.” Say Daphne Bavelier & C. Shawn Green, in Nature Reviews Neuroscience.
~From KQED: Benefits of Gaming: What Research Shows
Of course, as with everything else, there’s no one shoe size fit all! Like food, different kinds of video games will have different effects. Here are some examples of video game types and the skills you can learn:
- Action: Multi-tasking, hand-eye coordination,
- Strategy: Decision making, resource management
- Puzzle: Logic, problem solving
- Role-playing games: Storyline development
Of course, most video games fit into multiple genre! Take the Legend of Zelda series, for example; it’s an action-adventure game with puzzles, and it has a storyline too!
We’ll have a look at video game genre in the next post. 😀
Take Note of Age-Appropriate Content
If you’re worried about the violence, then look up the game’s Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) ratings! Not only they tell you what age range is the game for (i.e. age 13+), they also tell you stuff like “blood and gore”, “fantasy violence”, “mild language”, etc, and they’re usually at the back of the game box. Here’s a guide to game ratings for your reference. 😀
Video Games Can Be Frustrating
But a new study shows hostile behavior is linked to gamers’ experiences of failure and frustration during play—not to a game’s violent content.
(…) Researchers found that failure to master a game and its controls led to frustration and aggression, regardless of whether the game was violent or not. The findings of the study were published online in the March edition of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
~From University of Rochester: Video Gamers’ Aggression Linked to Frustration, Not Violent Content
Some video games can be difficult, especially action ones. I still remember the playing the first Prince of Persia game at age 8+… and I never did get my character across the spike pit or a guillotine-filled hallway. The horror watching your character falling over and over. 😱
It’s important to note the difficulty of the game. Some games are notoriously difficult (some find the challenge fun, but I don’t 😅), though most games, especially newer ones, have a difficulty setting ranging from easy mode to nightmare or hell mode. Gone were the days where you have three (THREE!) lives to last you the entire game. 😆
Aaaaand that’s it for benefits of playing video games!
Excited about playing games now? Well, I’ll be writing about video game genre and some recommendations next week, so for now, here’s a free random flash game for you! (What? No one says games must cost money! 😆)
A Short Self-Compassionate Letter
It’s great to see how excited you are about video games! And that you also recognise the downside. 😀
More in the Benefits of Playing Video Games series:
#1: Cognitive Benefits and a Mini-Rant
#2: Health & Social Benefits
#3: Creativity and a Disclaimer ⬅ You are here!
#4: Game Genres and Skills You Can Develop
#5: More Game Genres and Skills You Can Develop