Quit telling your kids to go outside and play. Climbing a tree is boring.
While this writer is fully aware that the countless hours spent traversing the vast landscapes of Hyrule, or patrolling the wasteland of Fallout has made him a better person, many people still subscribe to the notion that video games have ruined/are ruining our children.
Nonsense, according to a Michigan State University study. The research concludes that children who play video games tend to be more creative - regardless or whether or not those games are violent in nature.
So remember, "video games" in the context of this report means anything from Mario Kart to Gears of War.
The study comprised of almost 500 12-year-old kids, who were separated into categories based on how much time they spent playing video games. The researchers judged the kids' creativity based on the widely-used Torrance Test of Creativity-Figural. This test involves having the participant draw "interesting and exciting" pictures from a curved shape, and then elaborating on their picture by writing a story about it (among other activities).
As any gamer would expect, the results showed that the more video games the kids played, the more creative they tended to be in these types of tasks. Although the study found that boys play video games more than girls, the creativity link was no different based on sex. Both boy and girl gamers were more creative.
In fact, race, gender or type of game were not mitigating factors. High video game use = higher creativity.
On the flip side, internet and computer use that didn't involve games was not linked to increased creativity.
Linda Jackson, who conducted the study, said that it's the first evidence-based demonstration of this relationship, and that it should motivate video game designers to find the elements in their games that are responsible for increased 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.
Of course, "creativity" is hardly an objective thing. And this study only used one type of creativity evaluator to make its assessments (albeit a well-respected one). But screw the grain of salt. Gamers have known for a long time that their childhood was enhanced by all of that time with a controller in their hands - and this study backs up that long-held belief.
I mean, watch 5 minutes of this action from the recent first-person puzzle game Portal 2 and tell me that it wouldn't help a developing mind -
What do you think? How important are video games to a developing kid? Let us know in the comments.