Essay update

Ok, so now I’m at the beginning of May and still not as far on as hoped! My word count is still currently a big fat 0!

However this is not too bad as I’ve now got a focus, plenty of relevant research material that I’ve gone through and a clear idea of how I’m going to structure and justify my arguments. My question has now narrowed down to:

Can computer game design methods be used to cultivate creativity?

There are a lot of interesting elements to this subject including:

  • Is it possible to entice people not normally interested or confident in their creativity to cultivate their skills and confidence in a sustained way?
  • How necessary is it for people’s creative output to be shared amongst others and what’s the best way to create a supportive and self sustaining community to do this?
  • How do you balance the experience so that it’s structured enough to set clear goals, challenges and rewards to ease people into the creative process while also being flexible and adaptive enough to allow them to take more control when they’re ready?

From the research I’ve gathered, there’s a lot of material related to using game design methods for educational purposes but very little on using them to cultivate creativity. The psychological insight into how games engage the player is very interesting and there are definite links between the mental states of  gamers  and creative people immersed in their respective activities. The person becomes fully immersed in the activity at hand, unaware of what is happening outside of the activity. They are able to handle the task at hand but are also challenged by it. The experience has a similar emotional feel to meditation as the distractions and stresses of their life fade away leaving them free to concentrate on what they are doing. This state of mind is usually defined as ‘Flow’. 

I’m interested in finding ways of using game design methods to help people who don’t see themselves as creative to begin exploring the possibilities of creativity in an encouraging and supportive interactive structure. There are a lot of examples of games already doing something similar albeit in a limited or prescribed way. A good example would be Little Big Planet which has a style that’s appealing to a very wide audience. It allows you to customize a vast amount of the game to the point that you can create whole levels and miniature games with their own logic. The benefit of games like Little Big Planet is that it appeals to people who might not normally see themselves as ‘creative’ , It avoids the standard fears associated with more traditional forms of creativity by first giving people a game to play and enjoy, then allowing them to experiment with the different elements that make up the game until they are eventually able to go and make something of their own that expresses something of themselves using the (heavily customisable) building blocks that the game provides. The game uses goals and rewards to encourage players to continue to develop their skills until they reach a point where the creative process is a reward in itself. I’m interested in whether the player is interested in or able to then take this newfound creativity outside of the game and apply it to other areas of their life. 

That’s about everything for now, there are a few other ideas and thoughts floating around in my head but I need time to think about them a bit more 🙂 


About garrywhitton

I'm a masters student studying animation and visualisation. I am exploring the use of games technology for therapy and relaxation.
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