In the paper on the study, “Video Games can Increase Creativity, but with Caveats,” the researchers wrote that “it may be the case that video games that specifically provide opportunities for creative thought and expression can provide beneficial creativity effects.” The greater creativity of the undirected Minecraft group suggests that not only does it matter which video game you play, but the context in which you’re playing is important, too.
The researchers noted that being told to be creative may have shifted participants’ motivations or goals and directed their attention away from just playing the game. “The freedom of deciding how to play in the game could have led to the creative benefit by giving the participants more open-ended decisions to make,” the study offers.
Gentile noted that other causes for the directed group’s lower scores could be that since it’s difficult to be creative, they may have resisted the directive. Or, perhaps, “if creativity is kind of like a muscle,” he hypothesized, “as you use it, it gets tired. And so, maybe they were more creative in the gameplay, but then by the time we were measuring creativity after gameplay, they had nothing left.”
These results suggest that if you decide to play Minecraft with the intention of sparking creativity, it may not be effective. However, further research could investigate if playing the game over a longer period of time might be beneficial.
If you play Minecraft for several days, Gentile suggested, and if creativity is like a muscle, then maybe that muscle can get stronger over time. “It’s tired right after the exercise, but maybe after a week of exercise, it starts getting generally stronger,” Gentile offered. “We don’t know yet, and I think that’s where the really cutting-edge of this science is.”