Minecraft shows how video games can enhance your creativity
Unless you’re too young to know or too old to care, you’ve most likely heard of the game. Minecraft. It’s the popular sandbox game where everything is made of blocks, and you as the player can do whatever your heart desires – there are no rules in the world of Minecraft. Over 200 million units were sold as of 2021, making it one of the most successful games ever made. It spawned thousands of “let-play” videos on YouTube, established its own annual fan convention, and at one point was even considered made into a movie. But is there anything more to Minecraft than just blocks and a few hours of fun? Psychologists at Iowa State University believe that play can benefit the minds of creative people.
“The only limit is your imagination,” says the narrator in the official trailer, and this statement is so true. With hundreds of items to use, the world of Minecraft is your oyster. Every world you create is auto-generated – no two worlds are the same (unless you’re using a flat, simple world), and you have the option to explore them in one of four different game modes: Survival , Creative, Hardcore and Adventure .
In Survival you are thrown into a world with only your instincts, and you must collect resources, kill animals and survive hostile mobs to continue living; in Creative, you can fly around your world freely and every element of the game is at your disposal; in Hardcore, your gameplay is made more difficult and you can no longer access your world if you die; and in Adventure, you’re free to explore your world without starving, but you also can’t destroy blocks.
When it comes to more expressive and artistic players, Creative Mode is their choice of play. With this, players have the freedom to build whatever they want without wasting resources or dying. Through this mode, players have built some of the most beautiful and fascinating creations ever seen. Some shining examples include recreations of world famous landmarks, endless cities, giant sculptures and even the whole earth itself. Using “redstone dust”, the game’s equivalent of electrical wiring, talented players have managed to create ingenious contraptions such as calculators, computers and giant mini-games. With the ability to use command blocks – which can be used to change the weather, move entire structures from point A to point B, summon animals, and more. – players can basically become a god. Such a simple game mode can lead to fantastic achievements.
It is this Creative mode that holds the attention of the ISU psychologists. Few years ago, a test has been carried out to see if Minecraft could open the door to creative minds. The 352 participants selected for this test were randomly divided into four groups. Group one played Minecraft to their heart’s content, group two played it “as creatively as possible”, group three played a racing game, and group four watched a TV show. After 40 minutes of completing these activities, the participants were all asked to complete several other activities involving creativity, one of which was to draw an otherworldly creature. The more “creative” creatures would receive high scores, while the less creative would receive lower scores. The end results were quite surprising.
“We thought those two conditions would be the same, or maybe even where we’re initiating creativity would be the most creative. There seems to be something about choosing to do it that also matters,” said Douglas Gentile, professor and supervisor of the experiment. It turned out that the group told to play Minecraft the “creative” way that had the lowest scores on the creativity test. Conversely, the group that played Minecraft without rules ended up with the highest score.
Gentile said there was no concrete explanation as to why this was so, although he had some ideas. As the lowest-rated group was ordered to play Minecraft “creatively”, they may have forced themselves to make specific choices to meet the criteria, ironically stifling any creativity they might have. have. Another idea was that “creative” players undermined their creativity while playing the game, leaving them with nothing when it came time for the drawing test.
In their memory, psychologists have concluded that game mechanics do not only contribute to outcomes; the way a person plays the game also affects their performance. In the case of the Minecraft experience, they learned that the game not only helped subjects’ creativity, but that creativity in general could flourish better with little or no constraints. This idea can be attributed to almost all forms of creative expression, be it art, literature, music, etc. When held back by constraints such as time or criteria, it can be difficult to find that creative spark and keep it lit. The lack of restraints can help not only keep the spark burning, but also turn it into a blazing fire, which will hopefully last for a long time.
Even though he might not be as popular Like the early 2010s, Minecraft is still a great place for expressive young minds to nurture and hone their skills. It’s also worth noting that Minecraft isn’t the only game capable of this; other games can also be used as a way to help people. For example, psychologists believe that first person shooter games can be used to help strategize. Come to think of it, many games involve some level of creativity and thinking skills, ranging from puzzle solving to strategy.
Society upholds these values, so why are they ignored when it comes to playing games? Perhaps it is the negative stigma that surrounds them that is to blame. The media has frequently vilified the games, thinking they encourage acts of violence, laziness, or antisocial behavior. This has been going on since games were first invented, and while there is certainly some truth to these beliefs, it should be noted that there are indeed positives.
Think of it this way: if a person has a wild imagination in Minecraft, then maybe their abilities will translate to the real world. With enough education and direction, they can use their abilities for a meaningful purpose. Creativity is not limited to flashy colors and impossible realities; every aspect of our lives required some type of invention, from cars to light bulbs. Minecraft – along with other games – can be used as a springboard to lead innovative young minds to a bright future.
“Research is starting to paint a more interesting and nuanced picture. Our findings are similar to other gaming research in that you get better at what you practice, but how you practice can be just as important,” Gentile said.
Hopefully in due time people will finally recognize the benefits of gambling and can implement them in a way that is healthy, beneficial and fun at the same time. Perhaps if we were to use the game format in schools, learning would be more entertaining and engaging. Already, Minecraft: Education Edition has been integrated into schools in America and Sweden (the home of the developer of Minecraft), and it has been proven educational benefit students who use it.
It’s time to sweep away the negativity surrounding these games and finally embrace their true potential.