Expressivity of creativity and creative design considerations in digital games

Johanna Hall*, Ursula Stickler, Christothea Herodotou, Ioanna Iacovides

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Currently little is known about how creativity is expressed in digital entertainment games or what specific design elements may foster it. Using a qualitative methodology, this article reports on the findings of 24 semi-structured interviews and 14 narrative surveys with regular players of different types of digital games. Using a hybrid thematic approach to analysis involving both deductive and inductive phases, three main categories relating to the expressivity of creativity were discovered and one category relating to the specific game design considerations which give rise to such creative opportunities. Creativity was found to be expressed in terms of creative problem-solving involving the creation of novel strategies, solutions and approaches to problems; in terms of appropriation involving emergent play practices and how gameplay was adapted for alternative goals; and finally, in terms of affective change involving the personally meaningful insights and changes in attitudes/perceptions which games elicited. Design considerations were also identified relating to: freedom of play, environment, replayability, tools, avatar design and content creation. By shedding light on the grey area of creativity in digital games and illuminating how games may support and promote creativity in players, this article provides a basis for future research and can help inform game design practices in both digital entertainment games and games specifically designed to facilitate creativity.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106206
JournalComputers in Human Behavior
Early online date19 Nov 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2020

Bibliographical note

© 2019 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy.


  • Creativity
  • Digital games
  • Human computer interaction
  • Qualitative
  • Thematic analysis
  • Video games

Cite this