Can I Use Video Games As Memory Palaces?

| Memory

video game Memory Palace feature imageMany 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 Skyrim??

I’m not familiar with this game, but the quick and dirty answer is:

Yes. Of course. Why not?

But let’s dig deeper into my quick answer.

In truth, it doesn’t matter what i think. The real answer is up to you.

And here’s a potentially MASSIVE time saving tip:

When it comes to memory training, any “can I” or “could I” question almost always has the same answer:

Dive in and give it a try! If it doesn’t work…

Come back to the Magnetic Memory Method for foundational training.

Look: if you’re worried about making mistakes with any kind of Memory Palace strategy, I suggest you apply the Feynman Technique in this somewhat peculiar way:

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.

You’re also probably going to find that Memory Palaces based on real locations are easy to reuse. Those that is not always recommended either:


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 Have Worked Best For Me

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.

Platform games are also like how I imagine each room in a Memory Palace.

Each station is “fixed.” I move mentally from corner to corner, and for that reason, 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 spatial element is so important when it come to thinking through the topic if you aren’t good at mentally navigating space.

You can also check out these five kinds of Memory Palace navigation:


Here’s another point that makes me like platform games a lot better:

The screens used for game play can be easily divided into quadrants without thinking too much about the layout.

For example, we could impose the same kind of square Da Vinci placed on the human head to segment space for ease of reproduction.

Using Donkey Kong As A Memory Palace Example

If we take Donkey Kong as an example, the journey could start at the bottom left of the screen. That corner would be station number one.

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

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

It’s completely up to you whether or not you “see” a figure moving in the Memory Palace or not. I don’t really have much of a mind’s eye (aphantasia), so that’s perhaps one reason I prefer to make mental calculations and keep things super-simple.

But simple doesn’t mean limiting.

Just do the math on this example:

This particular configuration with a few simple operating principles based on one screen of Donkey Kong gives me 15 Memory Palace stations total!

That’s a ton of new information that can be memorized at the drop of a hat!

Of course, I don’t know the game involved in the original question. Perhaps you can set up Skyrim with a similar grid. Isolating a single screen when beginning with a game like this for a Memory Palace 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 sum, if you’re using the Memory Palace technique for learning, you want the technique that works best for you.

I don’t have the final word. You do.

And 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. Use your past often, including your childhood and other aspects of your autobiographical memory.

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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