Have you ever tried searching for new music to accompany your creative endeavors, only to come up short? Are 10 minutes of birdsong just not cutting it for that Mozart-worthy project you’re working on? Yeah, we’ve all been there. And wouldn’t you know it, video games actually provide a wealth of musical selections to suit every project! Whether you’re looking for something meditative and just a bit mysterious, or a track with a rich, robust beat, I’ve got you covered.
Each track on this list will be presented with a brief explanation as to what songs are included and what, exactly, I’m usually working on while I listen to it. That way, even if you’re unsure about where to start, you’ll have this handy guide to help you. What could be better than learning about new music and the games that were made better by it? Nothing, that’s what. (Okay, maybe cat gifs and pizza. But that’s it.)
Don’t forget to share your faves with me, too! I’m always looking for new music, and I’d love to hear what sounds psyche you up for a big project. Share your picks in the comments! With your help, I can run another post like this one curated by the FemHype crew. (You can find our follow-up post here.)
1. Skyrim, Jeremy Soule [12 hours]
This will always and forever remain at the top of my list simply because I’m constantly listening to these songs. (I’m pretty sure 70% of those views are from me, just in case you were wondering.) If you’re a fan of the outdoors and sounds of nature soothe you, Skyrim is the place you’ll want to make camp. All the atmospheric music from the game can be found in this single video, which clocks in at about 12 hours of sweeping, yet soothing tracks for all your most epic projects.
For more of Jeremy Soule’s utterly incomparable music, the full soundtrack can be purchased on iTunes for a mere $15.99. I don’t know about you, but that’s a bargain for all the inspirational tunes you’ll be getting in one neat little package!
2. Dragon Age: Inquisition, Trevor Morris [1 hour]
After sinking hundreds of hours into this overwhelming game, I can say with absolute certainty that there’s one track in particular that instantly inspires me to write. There are quite a number of astrariums that dot the landscape of Thedas, and while I wasn’t all too skilled at unlocking their secrets, I’d argue it was because I was too distracted by the music that rushed over all else like a summer storm. It’s all too easy to sink back into your chair with a cup of tea, taking a much-needed break from college cramming while these ethereal tunes wash over you.
For way more than this one song, you can nab the latest Dragon Age soundtrack on iTunes for $12.99. That’s less than the “Trespasser” DLC on Origin, which means you’ll get a deal for something that won’t make you sob into your pillow this time. Good, right?
3. Mass Effect, Sam Hulick [1 hour]
Full disclosure: I was never really able to get into the Mass Effect series. It just didn’t click with me, despite the fact that I own all three games in the franchise. The thing that does, in fact, inspire me to give it another try is the utterly gorgeous soundtrack. In particular, I’m always taken by the music that surrounds you when you approach the Galaxy Map. It’s upbeat, curious, and delightfully out of this world. When you’re in need of a little background music to keep you motivated and firmly in creative mode, try this song on for size.
The original Mass Effect soundtrack is still available on iTunes for only $9.99, which includes “Uncharted Worlds.” (Sam Hulick composed that particular piece, but many others are responsible for the rest of those selections.) There’s a lot more to be discovered there, though, so suit up and journey forth!
4. Fallout 4, Various Artists [2 1/2 hours]
We’re all familiar with Diamond City radio by now. At least I am, having sunk quite a few hours into Fallout 4 while prepping for our YouTube video. But you know what motivated me to play this game the most? Switching over to the classical music station. There was something so unique about the experience of crossing the wasteland to the tune of Bach that I found myself returning more often than I’d initially expected. Be careful, though! Quite a few of these selections can get a little brassy, so make sure your hand is close to the volume. Otherwise, you’re all set to explore.
For the original soundtrack by Inon Zur (of Dragon Age fame!), head on over to iTunes. You’ll need the equivalent of $15.99 in caps for this one, but it’s well worth the cost—especially if the apocalypse hits tomorrow and you’re stuck hanging out in a vault.
5. Minecraft, C418 [1 hour]
This might come as a surprise to some, but I’ve always felt a rather intense sense of calm sweep over me the moment I load Minecraft up. It’s an instantly pacifying experience to hear those first few notes jingle out from the vast expanse of blocks, yet the music is always simple enough that no complex melody will distract you from a task. I’d highly recommend this track for studying or work that would otherwise necessitate your full attention.
It’s up on Amazon for only $7.99, though you could always leave the loading screen up if you’re close to your console or PC. That would be too much temptation for me personally, so I’d go with buying the soundtrack itself. You wouldn’t want to settle in for a study session only to find yourself two hours into a survival mode run, would you?
6. Journey, Austin Wintory [58 minutes]
Last, but never least, is a soundtrack you’ve likely heard about by now. Many people have lauded Journey as an exploratory triumph, and rightfully so! But when was the last time you let its whimsical, almost haunting music wash over you? These are the tracks you’ll need when prepping for that big exam, and especially when you’re drafting the next major plot point in your narrative. It’s both meditative and speculative, an adventure all on its own, and one that will lead you to your best work.
If you’re financially able, I encourage you to purchase the full soundtrack in its entirety. It’s only $4.99 on iTunes right now! That’s basically a steal for music that perfectly encapsulates the wonder of discovery when playing a new game, or even revisiting a beloved one.
If you’re interested in more ambient tracks with a geeky flavor, I’d highly recommend YouTube channels like ASMR rooms and The ASMR Geek. Music dedicated to Fallout 4, Mass Effect, and Skyrim are the perfect way to help me re-focus myself after a stressful start to the day. All you need are a sturdy pair of headphones and a little bit of writing work ahead of you!