Some interesting new studies and projects have come out recently showing beneficial links to videogame playing for children. Linda A. Jackson, professor of psychology over at Michigan State University, led a study finding that videogame play was a strong predictor of creativity in children. Here is the abstract:
This research examined relationships between children’s information technology (IT) use and their creativity. Four types of information technology were considered: computer use, Internet use, videogame playing and cell phone use. A multidimensional measure of creativity was developed based on Torrance’s (1987, 1995) test of creative thinking. Participants were 491 12-year olds; 53% were female, 34% were African American and 66% were Caucasian American. Results indicated that videogame playing predicted of all measures of creativity. Regardless of gender or race, greater videogame playing was associated with greater creativity. Type of videogame (e.g., violent, interpersonal) was unrelated to videogame effects on creativity. Gender but not race differences were obtained in the amount and type of videogame playing, but not in creativity. Implications of the findings for future research to test the causal relationship between videogame playing and creativity and to identify mediator and moderator variables are discussed.
Meanwhile, A. Scott Cunningham, an assistant professor of economics over at Baylor, along with Benjamin Engelstätter at the Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung (Center for European Economic Research) and Michael R. Ward at University of Texas Arlington, released a working paper on the Social Science Research Network entitled “Understanding the Effects of Violent Video Games on Violent Crime.”
Researchers have long been able to measure physiological arousal in participants engaging in violent media. This physiological measurement is seen regardless of the media. Violent TV shows, movies, music, and videogames will elicit the measured arousal as study after study has shown. But, more tenuous are assertions this arousal leads to violence elsewhere once participants are away from the media. This study seeks to empirically link violent videogame sales with decreases in reports of violence. Here is the abstract:
Psychological studies invariably find a positive relationship between violent video game play and aggression. However, these studies cannot account for either aggressive effects of alternative activities video game playing substitutes for or the possible selection of relatively violent people into playing violent video games. That is, they lack external validity. We investigate the relationship between the prevalence of violent video games and violent crimes. Our results are consistent with two opposing effects. First, they support the behavioral effects as in the psychological studies. Second, they suggest a larger voluntary incapacitation effect in which playing either violent or non-violent games decrease crimes. Overall, violent video games lead to decreases in violent crime.
Finally, work on videogames to assist children in coping with medical problems continues in earnest. A recent example involves the University of Utah’s Engineering Arts and Entertainment (EAE) program, which brings in students from the school’s Dept. of Film and Media Arts and School of Computing to design interactive entertainment. Together with physical therapists and councilors, EAE students created a series of videogames designed to help children stricken with cancer. The unnamed minigames written for the PlayStation3 are currently being beta tested by patients in the pediatric ward at the Primary Children’s Medical Center in Salt Lake City, with possible retail release in the near future. Articles on the games can be found here and here.