I have high expectations for games and for those of us who create, play, and study them. By “games” I’m referring to video games, board games, tabletop role-playing games, and more. Games have vast potential worth, including escapism, catharsis, learning, self-discovery, and fostering relationships with other players in and beyond games. Perhaps games’ most important potential worth is in scaffolding the growth of gamers’ creativity. Because of that scaffolding, I believe the eventual indirect impact of games on human achievement can’t be overstated.
First, allow me to share a quick primer on some relevant psychology. Many psychologists have studied creativity extensively. This includes Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi, who pioneered the idea of flow, a state of concentration to optimize experiences and activities, and helped define positive psychology, a relatively-recent movement. Rather than only focus on diagnosing and treating dysfunction, positive psychology asserts that we can and should apply our understanding of the mind to help people improve their wellness and reach their full potential.