Listening to music while I am writing is a must-have. Firing up my well-curated playlist is just as, if not more important than the obnoxiously large cup of coffee that needs to be sitting by my side during long writing sessions. Flicking that “play” button when I open a blank Word document is just as commonplace as brushing my teeth when I get up in the morning. But I can’t just listen to anything and everything. Come on, these ears have standards. No, the only thing filtering through my speakers is video game original soundtracks (OST).
Hear me out.
I’m sure most of us know that music can be calming and therapeutic. The right music can even help you concentrate. How many studies have we heard about or read about that discuss the correlation between classical music and high GPAs? The answer is too many. Now, I’m in no way attempting to push video game music into the same vein with Johann Sebastian Bach’s Magnificat, but I am also not undermining the amazing talent of contemporary composers, many of whom are working on some of the biggest games in the industry.
OST’s are created with an actual purpose. It’s background music. It’s designed to sit in the background. Therefore, it is meant to help you concentrate and feel a deeper connection to the narrative happening on screen without the distraction of lyrics. That is primarily why the mu-sic has such a strong element of subtlety and can help with your own writing and the scenes you are crafting.
Take a game like Uncharted, for example. You’re solving puzzles, scaling walls, and deciphering journals to uncover history’s most complex and darkest secrets. You can’t do that with Top 20 songs roaring in the background, nor can you do it in complete silence. There needs to be a balance, and composers spend a lot of energy, time, and money creating that balance and crafting the OST so that players are able to enjoy the game while still being able to focus on what they’re doing. This is not an excuse to go pop Halo 5 into your Xbox One. You are supposed to writing, after all.
Some of the most beautiful and calming OSTs that I recommend can be found in developer Square Enix’s series: Kingdom Hearts, Final Fantasy, and Tomb Raider. These soundtracks are all encompassing and are perfect for writing emotional scenes, moments of epiphany, and even creating a whimsical atmosphere for fantasy writers. OSTs that personally inspire my own writing and are at the top of my playlist come from games such as The Last of Us, Assassin’s Creed, and Uncharted. All of these can be found on Spotify’s enormous library of music.
The genre of music doesn’t change depending on what I am working on—it’s all OST. However, I have become so accustomed to listening to this music that I know which soundtrack will fit the theme of what I am writing and can easily adjust the music accordingly. This sort of writing playlist has been ideal for me, and it has also been a way to combine two of my passions—writing and gaming—in an effective manner.
Tori Morrow, Assistant Editor