Video games can improve the player's mood and enhance creativity, according to new research.
S. Shyam Sundar, Penn State professor of film, video and media studies, and Elizabeth Hutton, a graduate student, conducted research to understand the value of video games as a vehicle for sparking positive social traits, such as creativity.
"Video games are not just for entertainment," said Sundar. "We are trying to figure out how they can aid in education as well."
In the study, conducted as part of Hutton's graduate thesis, 98 students were asked to play 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 whether they were feeling 'positive' or 'negative' after the game.
"We looked at two emotional variables: arousal and valence," said Hutton.
A statistical analysis of the two emotional variables and the students' creativity scores highlighted two totally different groups with high scores.
Players with a high degree of arousal and positive mood were most likely to have new ideas for problem solving. The statistical tests also revealed that creativity scores were highest for players with low arousal and a negative mood.
In real-life terms, the study appears to indicate that after playing the game happy or sad people are most creative, while angry or relaxed people are not.
"When you are highly aroused, the energy itself acts as a catalyst, and the happy mood acts as an encouragement. It is like being in a zone where you cannot be thrown off your game," said Sundar.
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