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March 24, 2014

Do Video Games Encourage Creativity?

When you think of video games, you think of, well, playing games. Isn't it part of the name, after all? However, as time went on, it became clear that video games were becoming their own media. The times of Pong and Pac-Man were gone. More and more games were coming out. And with every game franchise, a fan base. It's normal; anything that knows some success, even moderate, will end up having fans who enjoy the product and the world that gets depicted within it. That's partly why the story aspect of many video games has been upped over time: Things get bigger, because the fans want to know more. They love what's presented, and as such they always want to see new elements.

I talked a lot about the fans' habits. Fan fiction, fan art, fan videos... All this kind of thing is sure to pop up when a franchise gets popular. All these things are made by people, and honor what they love. As such, some fans can get VERY creative. The question will seem odd, as the answer will be apparently obvious at first sight, but... do video games encourage creativity?
First off, I think that the answer is not so obvious, if we consider creativity under its multiple meanings. In regards to fan communities, what is creativity? Again, seems pretty simple at first: Fan works, made by people who enjoy a work of fiction. However, can we really consider this "creativity"?

Drawing your favorite character in a pose that looks cool results in a nice picture, but officially very little has been "created". The character already existed. The pose, which will reflect the character's attitude, is the same sort of thing we could expect to see anywhere else. As such, is it real creation? If creation means starting from scratch, then no, it's not quite creation. The work is based on the events, characters and settings of a video game franchise. It's not complete creativity, but it's still some form of creativity. Keep in mind that there are fandoms for every franchise out there, whether it be Mario, Evil Dead, Hercule Poirot or for bands or musicians such as Metallica. And thus, every fandom can make fan works about their passion.

However, not all video game franchises give the player full creativity in the game. And that's normal; not all franchises can add a Do-It-Yourself mode in which you can create or customize characters, levels or mini-games. Most of the time, games that offer this much creativity are pretty much based entirely around the power of imagination. Maybe that's part of why Minecraft is so popular. However, even the franchises that never give anything as such can sill spark an idea in a person's head.

But, back to the question, do video games encourage creativity? Some more than others. Some games are made so that the player has to be creative, but others that don't offer anything such can still bring someone to create their own thing. Think about Own Characters; this is a fan concept in which a character is created to be part of a fan work. Its appearance, its backstory, its abilities, all those things need to be described. When you look around Internet, you'll see thousands of such fan characters. The fans build around what is never shown in the world depicted in the game. In a way, video games spark creativity, but at the same time, so do all other mediums such as film, literature or music. Fan works have never been more present than now, thanks to Internet. Not only can everything spark a bit of creativity in a person, but now there's an audience for this kind of thing, there are other fans sharing their creations as well. So, video games encourage creativity, as much as the other fiction mediums do, but it greatly helps now that Internet is around.

Heck, I've created a few fan characters myself. I know, I'm a geek.