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Video Games Can Make Us More Creative

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the all-ya-gotta-do-is-dance dept.

Games 56

FiReaNGeL commends to us a study by Penn State researchers looking at the effect of video game play on creativity. "[Subjects] were asked to play a popular video game, Dance Dance Revolution, at various levels of complexity. The students took a standard creativity test after playing. The researchers also took readings of the players' skin conductance and asked players if they were feeling either positive or negative after the game ... [T]he study appears to indicate that after playing the game, happy or sad people are most creative, while angry or relaxed people are not. The findings suggest that either high or low arousal is key to creativity. In other words, medium amounts of arousal are not conducive to creativity."

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56 comments

I Knew It! (1)

KaizerttheBjorn (1039348) | more than 6 years ago | (#23533235)

I keep telling my parents that video games make me smarter, but they never believe me.

Re:I Knew It! (3, Interesting)

Xeirxes (908329) | more than 6 years ago | (#23534619)

Well, there IS a difference between intelligence and creativity, but if you think about it, there probably isn't a link between any of these things and video games. I haven't met any fuming angry people who I saw at their height of creativity. Nothing new.

Also, although I run the risk of sounding arrogant, I do consider myself to be fairly intelligent. However, I play video games nearly every day. I know a lot of people who don't really show that they are intelligent (whether or not they really are), and they do the same. I just don't think that there is a "link" or a "relationship" between games and something.

Video games are like a tool that you can use. Not everyone receives the same effects from it.

Re:I Knew It! (1)

VeNoM0619 (1058216) | more than 6 years ago | (#23558279)

I haven't met any fuming angry people who I saw at their height of creativity.
Of course, because RTFS

, happy or sad people are most creative, while angry or relaxed people are not
You will find that most depressed people (try myspace or something) can be overly creative and will often paint (it may not be a picture you prefer to look at, but its original/creative), as well as happy people (which is why most children like to draw).

I disagree with your other point, games do help provide creativity and boost intelligence. But this assumes you are playing more than 1 game. A video game can be like a painting, staring at the same 1 isn't going to make you more creative, you need to view different paintings to see other views.

Also, it helps intelligence because once you've nearly mastered something, you should move onto another game (once you know multiplication, you don't keep doing it: you learn division or algebraic equations). You may not notice the intelligence gain from gaming, but there is one. Look at how easy some NES games are when there's only a directional pad and 2 whole button options to choose from. Now look at how complex most modern games are, with the 3d physics puzzle solving requirements (ie: Halflife 2/zelda etc.)... you still learn.

Non-story (1)

drcagn (715012) | more than 6 years ago | (#23533239)

I think everyone who plays video games knows this already...

Re:Non-story (1)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 6 years ago | (#23533277)

It's still for the younger gamers to have proof for their parents.

Questionable study (4, Insightful)

ATestR (1060586) | more than 6 years ago | (#23533259)

Of course I haven't RTFA, but I wonder if the test is measuring what the title of the article says it is measuring. Are the results due to playing the video game, or could they be from the physical exercise involved in DDR (considerable). There is probably room for a number of different control groups.

Re:Questionable study (2, Interesting)

efence (927813) | more than 6 years ago | (#23533309)

I am skeptical about the study as well. Some people are inherently more emotional and tend to be more creative (in the traditional sense). Probably the reason is that it is natural for them to be sad or excited over little things, like winning/losing a game of DDR.

Highly questionable study (4, Insightful)

globaljustin (574257) | more than 6 years ago | (#23533357)

You raise a good point, one of several problems with this silly study. I read TFA and this portion tells us all we need to know:

The researchers also took readings of the players' skin conductance and asked players if they were feeling either positive or negative after the game... [T]he study appears to indicate that after playing the game, happy or sad people are most creative, while angry or relaxed people are not. The findings suggest that either high or low arousal is key to creativity. In other words, medium amounts of arousal are not conducive to creativity.

Skin conductance? "Feeling positive or negative"? Dance Dance Revolution? Not to mention how they measure creativity...it's basically a self assessment.

There are so many problems...skin conductance is a meaningless measurement. All we know is that is changes...we don't know why with any reliability. The rest is Freudian/behaviorist psychology bullshit. It's not pseudo-science...it's worse...it's a fraud. These experiments do not come close to proving any sort of hypothesis.

I can say from personal experience that *some* video games substantially increase my brain activity, but having some sort of statistical proof is a long way off. We simply do not understand the human brain and creativity enough to draw these kind of conclusions from this shitty data.

I'm not anti-video game by any means, I'm anti-behaviorist psychological bullshit peddlers who do this work and call it "science".

Re:Highly questionable study (1)

Nasajin (967925) | more than 6 years ago | (#23533377)

I'd agree with you completely, and also add that the study doesn't really measure long term effects, which would really be necessary for this study to mean anything. As I read it, it just tests people's creativity based on a subjective scale, on very short term periods of time.

Re:Highly questionable study (1)

edschurr (999028) | more than 6 years ago | (#23533747)

Not to mention how they measure creativity...it's basically a self assessment.
How did they measure creativity? The article only says "standard creativity test" but I don't know what that is.

Re:Highly questionable study (3, Informative)

globaljustin (574257) | more than 6 years ago | (#23534037)

I'm going to link to the wiki article [wikipedia.org] for you

they use either self reported feelings or perceptions or a scored test. both are highly problematic.

1. self reported feelings and perceptions of creativity: this is kinda ridiculous, like asking someone if they have cancer vs doing a biopsy.

2. scored test: obviously, this is biased by who is scoring the test. Is some psychologist qualified to determine what is 'creative'? What about a panel of experts? not a chance...how would they choose an example of creativity? what's popular?

we're nowhere near being able to 'measure' creativity.

Re:Highly questionable study (1)

Hojima (1228978) | more than 6 years ago | (#23536461)

I'm really starting to get ticked off at the "video games make you " headlines. There are countless ways that you can perform an experiment to cherry pick good/bad results with video games and there is a good reason that people seem to overlook. VIDEO GAMES ARE SIMULATORS. They are capable of replicating any scenario that can draw forth any benefits or drawbacks associated with the event. One major study that is very relevant is the one where psychologists assigned the role of prisoner and guard to a bunch of students and they took their role far too seriously. Putting people in these simulations changes their mindsets. Even simple games can put the player in the mindset of a puzzle solver (similar to the role of a mathematician and other problem solvers) or the role of an angry mindless brute. Even other players in the game can influence the people, such as previously kind players that suddenly join guilds to harass noobs because they want to flock with the crowd (a very well known psychological response). The real studies that are worth performing are the ones that quantify very specific data, such as your ability to assess the number of objects in one glance (i.e. without counting).

Re:Highly questionable study (2, Interesting)

dj_tla (1048764) | more than 6 years ago | (#23533829)

I would say even more questionable is the last part, that findings suggest that high or low arousal is key to creativity. What do they mean by arousal? I'd saying being angry is definitely one form of it. If anything, I'd say the finding suggest the exact opposite, that medium amounts of arousal are optimal: not angry, yet not relaxed.

Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] agrees with me: "The Yerkes-Dodson Law states that there is a relationship between arousal and task performance, essentially arguing that there is an optimal level of arousal for performance, and too little or too much arousal can adversely affect task performance." (Considering that task performance would clearly encompass creative task performance as well)

Re:Highly questionable study (1)

hkmarks (1080097) | more than 6 years ago | (#23536291)

Arousal means "excitement" more than anything.

So "mildly pissed off" would be more aroused than not caring, but less aroused than screaming and raging. You're not going to be very creative if you have nothing to say, and neither will you be creative if you're so mad you can't think. Likewise, if you're overcome with joy, you'll be less creative than if you're just in a cheerful mood.

What I think the study is saying is that DDR "regulates" your arousal, exciting you if you're bored and not interested in doing anything, and calming you down if you're too upset to do anything. It's like drinking a cup of coffee to wake yourself up, but not so many that you get jittery.

It's an old finding with new supporting research.

Re:Questionable study (2, Insightful)

jessica_alba (1234100) | more than 6 years ago | (#23533429)

a keyboard and mouse can get the adren pumping as well.

Re:Questionable study (1)

Locus Mote (307298) | more than 6 years ago | (#23539167)

Of course I haven't RTFA, but I wonder if the test is measuring what the title of the article says it is measuring. Are the results due to playing the video game, or could they be from the physical exercise involved in DDR (considerable). There is probably room for a number of different control groups.
Bad science indeed.

Voluntary physical exertion has already been proven to promote neurogenesis (the creation of new nerve cells in the brain) regardless of the involvement of visual stimulation or problem on the part of a video game. Simply running on a treadmill while staring at a blank wall will produce new neurons, so long as you "want" to do it.

Interestingly enough, forced physical exertion does not promote neurogenesis.

For more on this good science called neuroplasticity, read the book: Train Your Mind to Change Your Brain: How a New Science Reveals Our Extraordinary Potential to Transform Ourselves [amazon.com] by Sharon Begley.

hmmm... (1)

Travelsonic (870859) | more than 6 years ago | (#23533269)

I guess it is a good thing I got back into my hour-a-day of playing DDR then.

18+ plus hours in a fast paced fps and you see god (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23533281)

and then you pwn him/her

In other news, eating veggies makes you healthy (1)

darealpat (826858) | more than 6 years ago | (#23533303)

Any one who has studied arousal levels and their relationship to performance would have been able to tell them that relationship to creativity. In fact, anyone who has a reasonable knowledge of sports would tell you the same. Think about the occasions when the best performances tend to be seen (not "are seen", for you nit-pickers out there, but "tend") and it would be in the occasions when the athlete was highly motivated. Also, the times when you utterly destroyed your previous scores in (your favourite game here) you would have been at your creative best. No new news here, Move on.

Video games or physical activity? (3, Insightful)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 6 years ago | (#23533335)

When I think of video games, I don't think of DDR. DDR is a plot to get nerds to work out by making them think they're scoring points instead of burning calories.

How about doing a study about how creative people are after going to the gym? It gets the blood flowing, oxygen circulating -- no wonder they think better.

Likewise, happy and sad emotions making people more creative than neutral or angry? Duh. Anger makes me want to break things -- or play DOOM. Frankly, DOOM doesn't make me solve problems better afterwards.

I always think better after having worked out, or done something outside. Just an observation.

Re:Video games or physical activity? (1)

Travelsonic (870859) | more than 6 years ago | (#23533499)

When I think of video games, I don't think of DDR. DDR is a plot to get nerds to work out by making them think they're scoring points instead of burning calories.
If you are joking, I see where it came from and laugh along. If you are serious, you are an idiot.

Re:Video games or physical activity? (1)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 6 years ago | (#23533689)

I'm joking about the plot part. However, it is fairly vigorous. The rest of my post is completely serious.

Re:Video games or physical activity? (1)

Travelsonic (870859) | more than 6 years ago | (#23536275)

Thats cool, a good thing I put the conditionals in the way I posed it... 'cause honestly I thought it [plot part] was a joke, but I just had to be sure.

Re:Video games or physical activity? (1)

the brown guy (1235418) | more than 6 years ago | (#23533793)

DDR is a plot to get nerds to work out by making them think they're scoring points instead of burning calories.

Funny, but sort of true. Would I step on a mat with some arrows on it if I couldn't show up my friends? Probably not. But now I can go to the local arcade, show my 1337 DDR skillz by playing Terra on expert (challenge soon.....argh) and have a crowd of cute asian girls watching this random guy from India show up the koreans at DDR. Little do they know that I used to play for like 2 hours a day...for 4 months. It's not that much, but it sure adds up.
In short, not only does DDR stimulate creativity, it can also stimulate social interaction, when owning noobs at arcades. And they never suspect the brown guy [slashdot.org] ...

creativity (2, Informative)

caramello (1227828) | more than 6 years ago | (#23533363)

it seems everyone who posted so far kind of missed the point... the findings show that you have to either be up or down to be creative, which i've noticed and have to deal with every day as a composer. feeling so so is not the time to work on music. i make my best stuff out of a surge of happiness or the bottom of depression.

Re:creativity (1)

caramello (1227828) | more than 6 years ago | (#23533371)

actually the entire study and the idea behind it don't really add up.

Re:creativity missed, not point (1)

lpq (583377) | more than 6 years ago | (#23542423)

It's not the point that was missed -- it's that it isn't clear they actually measured creativity or 'anything' -- the testing methodology was flawed, like "skin conductance -- that increases with sweating -- wouldn't exercise increase sweating?" Several things measured don't add up to the conclusions drawn -- which is very often true with 'scientific studies', but appears even more so in this 'study'. Whatever.

Ummm (2, Insightful)

aitikin (909209) | more than 6 years ago | (#23533529)

Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't, "standard creativity" quite a little bit oxymoronic?

Subject line (2, Insightful)

courseofhumanevents (1168415) | more than 6 years ago | (#23533709)

"Creativity test?" What is it, a blank page?

DDR? (1)

TheSambassador (1134253) | more than 6 years ago | (#23533757)

Couldn't the "heightened creativity levels" have something to do with the fact that Dance Dance Revolution requires physical activity? I feel like coming to the conclusion that "video games make us more creative" is a bit presumptuous. If they used a game like WOW maybe...

Also, I couldn't find exactly how they measured creativity. How DO you measure something like that with a pre-made test?

Heh (1)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 6 years ago | (#23534185)

Duude, don't discount WoW so fast. With how much my dwarf runs around hills and valleys and thickets, he's probably uber-creative. He's probably composing the next great symphony when I'm not around. Having herbalism [ctrlaltdel-online.com] as one of the jobs probably also helps, if you know what I mean.

Also, I remember trying one of the (back then) new MS Sidewinder force-feedback joysticks in some Star Wars game, waay back. It was like arm-wrestling an epileptic grizzly bear while he's having a seizure. The damn thing would shake, pull in random directions, and generally act like it had a will of its own. Or like it was possessed by the angry spirit of a spastic monkey who died of a drug overdose.

You want to accelerate? Have some random joystick shake. One of your team mates got too close to you? Let's shake, rattle and roll, baby. You passed by another ship? Arm wrestle this, nerd-boy. Laser fire narrowly missed you? Shake baby, shake. You're trying to carefully aim at a 2 pixel shield generator? Let's have some shaking that you'll be glad if you can keep it on your screen, much less in the crosshair. Etc.

'Cause you know, it's only _realistic_ to simulate turbulence. In space. In a vacuum. Caused by a laser beam. Ookaayy.

If that wasn't a bigger workout than waving your wiimote around, I don't know what is. More depressing too, and, hey, these guys say that being sad is good for your creativity ;)

Re:Heh (1)

Awptimus Prime (695459) | more than 6 years ago | (#23534647)

Yeah, that controller was a tendon destroyer. I used mine up until the day I lost the power supply during a move.

My roommate used to call it my E-cock due to the shape of it and how it goes erect (centers) when it senses a hand wrapped around it.

wow! (1)

arse maker (1058608) | more than 6 years ago | (#23533833)

Things that interest us cause us to learn or create, thats amazing. Its almost like why production line workers dont win phds or dont come up with the theory of relativity! Its almost the opposite to what school does, maybe its time to rethink learning, learning should be about finding our passions, not learning 10 topics we couldnt give two shits about

As a DDR player (1)

Haoie (1277294) | more than 6 years ago | (#23533923)

I actually play, to a certain extent, for the exercise. Not for creativity or anything.

arousal is tied to creativity? (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 6 years ago | (#23533955)

so porn stars must all be picassos and mozarts

huh, the mysteries of the lessons of science

Re:arousal is tied to creativity? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23534069)

Naw pornstars probably fall under medium arousal... it's totally different watching a porno and being part of one with all the cameras, mic operators, director giving instructions, and constant starts & stops for the next part of the scene.

Healthy skepticism (1)

marco.antonio.costa (937534) | more than 6 years ago | (#23533985)

Standard creativity test? Hum... ok....

Really? (2, Insightful)

rrrlc (1291790) | more than 6 years ago | (#23534035)

So manic depressives must be veerryyy creative.

Dancing vs. Dancing (2, Interesting)

Thangalin (848856) | more than 6 years ago | (#23534107)

Video games, they claim, spark "positive social traits, such as creativity."

How would this compare to dancing with another person?

For socially adept, happy, creative people, dance with another human, not a video game. Like these people here [flickr.com] , here [flickr.com] , here [flickr.com] , and here [flickr.com] .

Yes, it would mean you'd have to stop playing with your Wii ... for at least a little while.

Is the last part of the title missing? (1)

PottedMeat (1158195) | more than 6 years ago | (#23534117)

By RTA or even just reading the quote alone it's obvious that there should be a "or not" at the end of the title. The creativity effect only happens when the game brings certain people to certain ranges of the two variables they measured. It isn't some universal magic result that occurs just by playing the game. PM

Oblig. The noob comic (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 6 years ago | (#23534137)

Introducing... clichefit! [thenoobcomic.com]

How do you measure creativity? (1)

digital19 (1195625) | more than 6 years ago | (#23534299)

"We looked at two emotional variables: arousal and valence," said Hutton. "Arousal is the degree of physical excitation -- as measured through skin conductance -- and valence, which is the range of positive or negative feeling."

So this means race car drivers are much more creative than say... artists.

Oblig (1)

Debug0x2a (1015001) | more than 6 years ago | (#23534305)

Now you're thinking with portals!

Correction... (1)

wondershit (1231886) | more than 6 years ago | (#23534441)

Video Games Can Make Us More Aggressive

There, fixed it for you.

Arousal? (1)

WereCatf (1263464) | more than 6 years ago | (#23534579)

"The findings suggest that either high or low arousal is key to creativity." No shit? When I am highly aroused I get very creative; I tend to vividly fantasize about some hot guy (or several) and me ;P

Google cache link (1)

vidnet (580068) | more than 6 years ago | (#23534739)

The site appears to be slashdotted at the moment, here's a google cache link: http://tinyurl.com/6rsjmz [tinyurl.com]

Ok, so they did the test with "video games" (1)

v(*_*)vvvv (233078) | more than 6 years ago | (#23534845)

Now, what happened after regular "dancing"? Even hop scotch.

I would expect similar results.

I was right, i was right (1)

RoastingHeart (1000404) | more than 6 years ago | (#23535411)

"...suggest that either high or low arousal is key to creativity."

I KNEW chronic masturbation and Photoshop went well together! Thanks /.

New Video Game Study JUST released! (1)

Veggiesama (1203068) | more than 6 years ago | (#23535927)

Video games linked to lousy statistical methodologies.

When questioned about sketchy practices, senior researchers at Penn State replied, "Wtf noob get your own research grant lol"

medium amounts of arousal? (1)

gadabyte (1228808) | more than 6 years ago | (#23536435)

medium amounts of arousal are not conducive to creativity.
insert obligatory momjoke here.

Huh? (1)

Feanturi (99866) | more than 6 years ago | (#23537245)

This was the wrong game to use to try and prove a point about the effect of video games. I play DDR fairly often, and it's not really a video game so much as a physical workout. Working out is good for you on several levels. You get your circulation going, your metabolism picks up, you get endorphins making you happy, and you come out of it feeling like you did something good for yourself. Creativity is enhanced when your sense of well-being is enhanced. The video game aspect of it is, to me, pretty meaningless. They should have compared the effects of DDR with the effects of people doing aerobics to a workout video. I'll bet they would have found the same results.

That said, video games can make you more creative, but this was the wrong way to measure it.

Questionable (1)

ChrisBader (1232968) | more than 6 years ago | (#23537605)

What are all the games that they tested? if they only tested DDR you might as well just start telling people to go outside, exercise and have fun since the way that this looks it is more or less the result of endorphins being released in our bodies.

I used to do this on myself.. (1)

vsigma (154562) | more than 6 years ago | (#23540179)

Damn.. had I known that i could get published this way, I woulda kept accurate data back then!

Back when DDR first appeared stateside (We had a DDR 3rd mix - Korean at the local arcade) - we used to play it vigorously until more locals/kids figured out that it was entertaining to play as well, and lines started to build.

To give ourselves breathers/kill time waiting - we would go over to the touch screen machine and play some form of the Merit Megatouch machines, and specifically play Wordster or Word Dojo to see how good our brains were in our exhausted physical states after say, 10 straight games of DDR...

Conclusions: Due to the lower amount of oxygen going to our brains (relatively speaking), as more of it was going to the muscles to assist in recovery - our scores on average sucked by at least 10% while being tired. However, even though our scores were worse, we did come up with some of the most esoteric words that we would never use in daily speech while totally tired, that we would never pull out while playing fresh.

Sure (1)

aaaaaaargh! (1150173) | more than 6 years ago | (#23542699)

After hours of doing boring and repetitive tasks, the brain is hungry for doing something new---something creative. Sounds plausible to me.

Not Video Games (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23626247)

The study really had nothing to do with video games at all. It used DDR to get people to exercise to a point of pysiological arousal to see how it, in correlation with emotional state, would affect various aspects of cognition. The abstract can be found here [psu.edu] .
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