When The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim was released in November of 2011, several of my nerdiest friends and I ordered a pizza, raided several TVs from our parents’ living rooms, and set them up in my basement. We started at 6 in the evening after waiting in line for our pre-ordered copies and settled into a circle of beanbag chairs with our pizza and our Xboxes ready to begin at the same moment. The game hooked us all in, and the first time I looked at my watch I was surprised to find that it was 7. For a moment I thought it was odd that I was so tired after only an hour, but when I looked around at my sleeping friends, I realized that it was 7 the next morning. We had played for 13 hours straight and barely noticed the time passing.
I haven’t played the game much recently, but at the suggestion of my sister I searched for a 10-hour playlist of atmospheric Skyrim music on YouTube during one of my study sessions, and I was surprised to be taken right back to that first night with my friends. It was nostalgic and relaxing, and regardless of what I was working on, I found it was easier to motivate myself and to keep going for just a bit longer. But it wasn’t just the nostalgia that kept me going. I found out later that video game music is specifically designed to draw you in and keep your attention focused on the game. It’s simple, usually instrumental, and in the case of Skyrim, meant to evoke a peaceful walk through an idyllic fantasy world— perfect for when you’re stressed before a big exam.
Ever since that first experience, video game music has become a staple of my studying playlist, and I think it has really done a lot to keep me motivated while I’m working. If you think this might work for you, then think back to the games you played in your childhood, and see if you can find a looped soundtrack online. The goal is to find something that is meaningful but simple; something that takes you back to the days where you could sit for hours, inches from the TV in absolute focus. Those days may be gone, but there’s no reason to keep those happy memories locked away. Find some music that appeals to you and use it to give you a reason to keep going for just a bit longer or keep you just a little more engaged. Happy studying!
Let me know in the comments what music you like to study with. I’m always building my Spotify playlist, and I’d love to hear your suggestions!