For decades, video games have gotten a bad rap. Considered a complete waste of time, a danger to society, and a mindless venture by many (especially frustrated parents!), video games are often viewed as one of the biggest anti-productivity hobbies. Yet what most people don’t realize is just how helpful video games can be for your brain.
That’s right: the next time someone tells you to put down the Playstation controller or turn off Clash of Clans on your phone, don’t.
One of my all-time favorites topics to write about is subverting the traditional way people think about video games. Gaming is a fantastic mental stimulant despite what people think — and research has proven video games can help you stay productive. At WonderHowTo, I wrote about the top perks of playing, the benefits for your brain, and the wonders gaming can do for everything from vision to mental focus. And today, I’m discussing another surprising way people can give their focus a boost by gaming: music.
Most people know their favorite games’ songs and enjoy listening to them. However, when you sit down to work, you likely choose to open Spotify or Pandora rather than your favorite video game. Instead, start switching your “getting down to work” playlist to your most-loved video game music. It’ll make you happier, more efficient, and more creative.
It’s well-known and long proven that listening to music while working offers a bevy of benefits. Music engages the part of your brain that wants change, excitement, and distraction. The sounds of different songs improve creativity and make you a better worker. And they boost your mood along the way. According to research discussed in The New York Times, it takes just 15 minutes of music to increase your focus.
Video game music works just as well as “traditional” music when you need a bit more focus and a little distraction. Any melodious background noise (like the Halo intro you enjoy so much, or the beloved songs from the original Zelda) will offer the same effect.
Simply put, listening to video game music makes you happy. Any time you listen to music, your brain releases dopamine. Dopamine is the chemical that signals happiness. So, when your favorite gaming music is playing, you become happier. In turn, that positive mood makes you look at your tasks more positively. Simultaneously, music offers just enough distraction in the form of swelling sounds and changing beats that your brain switches into focus mode. Boring tasks suddenly seem a lot less taxing, your workload feels easier to tackle, and your processing capabilities speed up.
Video games come with another incredibly helpful quality, though. Unlike your favorite songs on Spotify or the latest hits on the radio, video game music is designed to be played in the background — it’s designed to accompany your adventure, not to play a primary role as you save the princess or fight a lengthy battle. The songs are meant to match the actions happening onscreen, and many video game songs are progressive in nature. As you rack up achievements and advance in the game, the music changes. Having those progressive songs playing while you work is beneficial in a similar way. Who wouldn’t want the music to swell as your confidence increases, or exciting rhythms marking your progress through a task? The sounds of video game music can increase your overall productivity tenfold.
Try this trick out while working this week. Whether you’re folding laundry, staring at spreadsheets, or getting lost in some reading, turn up the sounds and songs of your favorite video games. You’ll get to have some fun, think about your games, and use distraction to your advantage, all while thinking more creatively and working more effectively.