With the advent of fall comes the harsh reality that school is in session for many poor souls, myself included. After a full summer of binging Netflix, playing videogames, and binging Netflix while playing videogames, homework/studying is the last thing I want to do. But alas…life is cruel. THAT’S WHY I LISTEN TO VIDEOGAME SOUNDTRACKS WHILE DOING HOMEWORK!!!
Quick rules before we dive in:
- Only one game per franchise.
- I have to have listened to the full album while studying/homeworking.
- The ranking is based on the overall album—there can be songs that aren’t conducive to studying, but so long as the album works, it’s good.
#5 – Nier: Automata, PS4
I first got introduced to Nier: Automata when I heard my brother cackling about one of the endings. According to the Internet (so it must be true!), Nier: Automata is an action RPG about some war with machines? I didn’t actually play the game—I just saw the cool characters, expansive world, and (most importantly) heard the awesome soundtrack.
Nier: Automata is a great study soundtrack because it has a lot of quiet, atmospheric music, but it also has a haunting beauty to it, so it keeps you from getting too relaxed. There are also some songs with lyrics—sometimes in English, sometimes not—that help to spice up the soundtrack and keep it from getting too atmospheric. However, vocals are always a double-edged sword for me…sometimes I can tune them out, but other times (often when they are in English) it’s difficult to focus on whatever I’m working on.
Nevertheless, the haunting, orchestral sounds of Nier: Automata provide an excellent resource for class readings, working on worksheets, writing some papers, and studying for some exams.
#4 – The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Wii (and GameCube)
Despite being a lifelong fan of the Zelda franchise, Twilight Princess was the first Zelda game I actually beat. And even though it’s not my favorite Zelda game, it still holds a special place in my heart. In truth, I’ve listened to almost every Zelda soundtrack while studying, but Twilight Princess gives me maximum productivity. Partially because I can more easily fight the urge to play the game (I have no self-control with Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask), and partially because the updated, orchestral music helps me study better than the older soundtracks.
Additionally, Twilight Princess has some of the most peaceful musical numbers out there. From the relaxing fishing hole and Lake Hylia to the Sacred Woods and Midna’s Lament, Twilight Princess is filled with beautiful pieces that evoke a wide range of emotions, all of which are great for writing papers. The battle music always helps keep me going (especially when I’ve got a big deadline looming over me), and my overall nostalgia for the game reminds me that I can play it once I’ve finished my homework.
#3 – Chrono Trigger, SNES (and PS1)
Not only is my younger sister a musician, but she’s also obsessed with Chrono Trigger, an RPG by Square Enix. Many times while I was studying, she’d play songs from Chrono Trigger on the piano, and although I often griped at her for playing too loudly, the peace and tranquility of the songs she picked actually helped my studying.
The Chrono Trigger OST has a flair of mystery and adventure in it, and even though I’m fond of orchestral music, the synthesizer sounds in Chrono Trigger also help me focus and not get too hungry for adventures. Furthermore, there’s the fact that Nobuo Uematsu, the beloved composer of many of the Final Fantasy soundtracks, also collaborated on this game’s soundtrack.
#2 – Shadow of the Colossus, PS2
When I study, I find that I get into the “homework zone” best when my music starts off with something quiet and fairly monotonous/boring, and Shadow of the Colossus provides exactly that. Like most of the games on this list, I’ve actually never played Shadow of the Colossus, buuuut I watched my brother play it, so, close enough. When I was first introduced to this game, I didn’t pay much attention to the music—I was more like, “HOLY %$#& THAT THING IS HUGE!!” I don’t know why I decided to Google the soundtrack one day, but I’m glad that I did.
Although the game features many intense songs, fitting for the intense battles against the colossi, there’s a beautiful, melancholic air of hopelessness and despair that draws me into the music and gets me focused on my work. Listening to the soundtrack in the intended order provides a perfect balance of quiet, contemplative songs and heart-pounding, action-packed pieces, which are especially nice when you’re working on a particularly boring assignment.
And now, before we get to #1, here are some runners up:
(Love the Japanese, but get distracted by the drums)
(There’s such a thing as TOOOO relaxing)
(Mario’s just too upbeat for me…)
#1 – Final Fantasy VII, PS1
If my nod at Final Fantasy earlier didn’t give away its homeworking potential, this certainly does. Final Fantasy VII, perhaps the most popular/well-known FF game, is a work of art in and of itself, but the music is just spectacular. Nobuo Uematsu is an incredible composer, and although I own almost all of the Final Fantasy soundtracks, VII is by far my favorite.
I actually discovered the study potential of FFVII by accident. I was listening to One-Winged Angel and was too lazy to change my music, so the FFVII soundtrack kept playing. I was halfway through some assignment when I realized just how much the music was increasing my productivity. The droning synthetic sounds capture a range of emotions—from the helplessness of a dying planet to the steadfast hope of saving the world to the ticking sense of urgency—all of which serve to focus and motivate me to finish whatever it is I’m working on.
What do you think? Do you have some favorite study soundtracks? Comment below to let us know!