Science says playing Minecraft can make you more creative

Want to get creative? Play Minecraft - but don't try to force it

Minecraft skins: Iron Man, Spider-Man, Batman, a Creeper, and Herobrine floating in the air.

Researchers are continuing to investigate the psychological effects of gaming, but thankfully we’ve finally moved into topics beyond links between games and violence. New research suggests that games like Minecraft can help prime players to think more creatively – so if you’re looking to get the juices flowing on your next project, you might want to hit up one of the best Minecraft servers for some inspiration.

Research from Iowa State University suggests that playing games can enhance your creativity, but the effects depend on what you’re playing and how you’re playing it. Participants in the study were split into four groups, and each of those groups was assigned 40 minutes of a different activity. One watched TV, while the second played a NASCAR game. The other two played Minecraft.

After the time was up, participants went through a creativity test where they were asked to draw an alien from a planet unlike Earth, and researchers judged creativity based on how unlike humans those drawings were.

Participants who played Minecraft without instruction were found to be the most creative. Curiously, a second group of Minecraft players who were told to play as creatively as possible didn’t do any better on the creativity test than people who’d been assigned TV or the racing game.

Psychologist Douglas Gentile breaks down the study’s methodology in more detail in the video above.

Read more: Get creative in the best building games on PC

“It’s not just that Minecraft can help induce creativity,” Gentile says. “There seems to be something about choosing to do it that also matters.” He adds that “follow-up studies will have to look at” the reasons why. For now, maybe you can count on a little Minecraft when you need to get creative – just don’t try to force it.