Can I Use Video Games As Memory Palaces?

Image of bananas to illustrate the Donkey Kong video game as a Memory PalaceMany people ask me about using a video game as a Memory Palace. Here’s how such questions are often worded:

Hey, could I use a place off a video game as a memory palace such as breeze home off of Skyrim??

I have no idea what these games are, but the quick and dirty answer is:

Yes. Of course. Why not?

The real answer is up to you. And if you’re worried about making mistakes, I suggest you apply the Magnetic Memory Method approach to the Feynman Technique:

The more detailed answer is to remember a principle we’ve talked about before with is that familiarity = speed.

If you are so familiar with that location in the video game that you can create a journey through it and don’t have to spend a millisecond thinking of what comes next, then you can use it.

(I’m being a bit dramatic with the “millisecond” thing, so don’t take that as law.)

The same guidelines for preparation and predetermination that apply to real locations apply to imagined spaces as well. For this reason, you’ll want to make a dedicated list of the different stations in the video game area that you’ll be using.

The Real Reason People Want Video Game Memory Palaces

I think it’s worth thinking about the intention behind this memory improvement question.

In many cases, people want to create a video game Memory Palace Network simply because they never get out enough.

Is that a healthy reason?

I ask, because it is generally considered that using a Memory Palace based on a real location works better.

By the same token, my fellow memory expert Idriz Zogaj explains that some of the best memory athletes use movies to increase memory.

And we know that playing games can increase hand-eye coordination (not the same as ambidextrousness, but still cool to develop).

In any case, if you’re using a video game to avoid getting out into the world, you’re probably shooting yourself in the foot. Creating a Memory Palace Network by visiting more of your city is a great memory exercise.


The Ultimate Truth About Video Game Memory Palaces

I think I said it best in this quick video, then we’ll follow up with the nitty-gritty:

If you’re going to use Memory Palaces…

Platform Games Work Best

Here’s why:

When I’ve used video games for my memory and learning goals, I prefer Donkey Kong as the Memory Palace.

This is because the entire game plays out on a single screen, not an endlessly changing landscape.

Like a Memory Palace that you want to use in a fixed manner from corner to corner, it’s better if the space doesn’t rotate around without your head having been in it. See my post on Memory Palace Science for more knowledge on why this is so important from the memory experts.


Such screens can be easily divided into quadrants without thinking too much about it.

My journey would start at the bottom left of the screen. That corner would be station number one.

Looking at the screen, I see a number of platforms. Without Googling to see just how many platforms there are on level one, I’ll just decide that there are five and Donkey Kong stands at the very left of the top platform.

I assign the rule that each platform gets three stations (left, center, right) and another rule that I move across each platform in a zipper formation (left to right, right to left, left to right, etc).

This gives me 15 Memory Palace stations total!

In the meantime, you might want to think about setting up Skyrim with a grid. Isolating a single screen first might help you more than trying to create an entire journey.

If you do, please let me know which game you used and a little bit of the journey you created. 🙂

On the matter of using “virtual spaces” for Memory Palace memorization, this topic is discussed in detail here:

How to Enhance Your Memory with Virtual Memory Palaces

The Final Word On The Video Game Memory Palace? 

In some, if you’re using the Memory Palace technique for learning, you want the technique that works best for you.

When it comes to knowing how to study fast, it’s always an individual journey.

My suggestion?

Try both versions of the Memory Palace technique.

Then you’ll know.

And if nothing else, you’ll have the benefit of some great brain exercise better than most of the brain games out there.

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