I was thinking the other day about the question that is the tagline of this blog: can you teach creativity?
I'm afraid to say that the question may itself be flawed. There's a deeper question here: do we even need to teach creativity?
Everyone in Hollywood, even the janitors, has their own idea for a movie script. Everyone in the game industry, down to the lowliest of the QA staff, has a game idea. Yes, most of these ideas aren't worth the paper that they'd be printed on, but that's not the point. The point is that each idea is creative. Maybe not particularly innovative, maybe not fun... but creativity, it would seem, is an ability that all humans are born with.
I have precious few traditional art skills. I can't draw, sketch or paint to save my life. But I still can form images in my head that I think would make great pictures -- I just lack the technical skills to express them. Technical skills can be learned. They can also be taught.
I think that game design is the same. Maybe you have a great idea for a game, or a lousy idea... but it's an idea. All you need are the tools to express it. In my case, the tools are not paints or pencils or canvas; they are Word and Excel. My technical skills do not require an understanding of perspective or vanishing points or character rigging; rather, I need to understand the fundamentals of pacing, flow and game balance. All of these are skills that can be taught, and then it is up to the designer with those skills to go forth and design a game worth playing.
Of course, this all leads to the question: how does one know if a game is worth playing while they're designing it? The same question could be asked of the painter: how do you know this painting will be any good once you've finished it? That is much harder to teach (although it does come with experience)... but that's not creativity, that's craftsmanship.
So, perhaps I should rename the tagline of the blog. Is it possible to teach craftsmanship (without a ten-year one-on-one master/apprentice relationship)?