Why You Should Make Finals Month a Video-Game Musical

So, finals and final projects are terrible and stressful and hard to focus on. I, for one, prefer the ostrich approach to life’s stressors and like to pretend they’re not going to happen, but, sadly, that doesn’t even work in cartoon land.

I also like to set up my work so that I can do it all back to back to back to back in a lovely rush of caffeine, sugar, and pure terror. Therefore, I frequently dip into the widespread world of productivity assists (like lifehacks) and scheduling stuff (I highly reccomended HabitRpg; it’s a great to-do list organizer designed like a stylized old game. Make a group of friends if you can, it’s easier to do the quests if you’ve got buddies.) But the best thing I ever found to help me focus was music.

For a while, I listened to my Pandora angst soundtrack (which has been carefully crafted since middle school) because it makes me feel dramatic and I like singing as I work, but sometimes I’d wind up writing the song lyrics instead of the essay. So I switched to instrumental, because Lindsey Stirling is AMAZING (link goes to her youtube channel, she’s intense and has these great video game covers), and that helped a lot. Made doing work feel like a movie montage instead of thirty-six hours of writing, reading, and calculating the ratio of sleep/caffeine to get my work done without causing a heart-attack before I’m twenty five.

But the best thing of all is video game background music. Got to cram-study for a test in an hour? Pull up the boss fight. It’ll get you pumped. Need to spend the rest of the night and most of tomorrow devising your essays? Stick to the “exploring” music types- Elder Scrolls, Dragon Age, Mass Effect (I’ve heard SimCity is good, but I’m not a huge fan of the Sim music).

Why video game music? Because it’s designed to keep your attention; the game developers want you to spend long hours exploring, discovering, fighting, wandering, and just enjoying their creation. That’s not going to happen if they have some sort of annoying soundtrack, they need something to set the mood and then hold you to it.

Instrumental music was good, until I got sick of the jarring moods; some were contemplative, quiet, good for studying. Some were inexplicably heart-wrenching. Some made me want to get up and dance. The switching was not helpful because I knew each time a song ended and therefore was aware of time passing.

So, go get all of your favorite exploring soundtracks from your favorite games and get on those finals!

Also, I found this, and I think it’s neat. It’s a radio station that plays a bunch of RPG music.

And if you want to read on the benefits of video game music (and all music), click here or here or here. There’s also a Reddit thread discussing it here with a bunch of downloads. Warning: I’ve not downloaded anything, so I can’t verify it’s validity (or whether or not it’s riddled with viruses), but the Reddit people seem happy.

4 thoughts on “Why You Should Make Finals Month a Video-Game Musical

  1. I definitely agree and have been doing this recently too! One thing I have had to careful of is nostalgia waves hitting me when things like Inside the Castle Walls from Super Mario 64 comes on and I start to break down. Otherwise, the mood created by pieces like Sacred Woods, Dearly Beloved, or Pyrite Town have actually been really calming in that I could still focus on my work while enjoying the musical quality. I found your point about how this is likely because the composers were interested in having the players be able to engage with the sound while also focusing on game play aspects to be very insightful.

  2. I have to say that this is one of my favorite blog posts this semester for 2 reasons:

    1) My friend and I do something really similar where we have to study with seemingly obscure Pandora stations like Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, or Irish/Celtic music. When other friends of ours hear this, they usually don’t get it, and not-so-silently judge us. So, I’m here for the solidarity.

    And, 2) These links have save my finals week (especially as I scramble to catch up in this class).

    Great post, thank you for your service to the community.

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