Video Game Soundtracks: The Unlikely Champion of Office Productivity

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I am a serial listener.

Between podcasts, audiobooks, and music I have headphones in ears nearly all of my solo working hours. The fact is I enjoy the background noise as well as productivity pick me up, and I’ve come to find I am not alone. In a 2012 CSS-Trick poll, 92% of the 20,000 respondents claimed to have listened to music during their workday, but even more staggering was the 45% that “always” listened to music while they work[1]. However, with so many of us tuned in it can be difficult to determine which musical direction to take – specifically when trying to maintain your work productivity. In a world with endless music genres and millions of pre-assembled playlists, where do you start? What is the ideal work playlist?

Well, thanks to recent studies, science has taken all the guess work out of your tune related dilemmas and given us an answer to what is “up next” – Video game soundtracks. If you are anything like me, you likely saw ‘video game’ and experienced a mental double take. I have never picked up a game controller in my life, so I too was skeptical, but after delving deeper into the science behind these compositions it became apparent that gaming soundtracks came out on top in the areas that matter most; focus, motivation, and productivity.

Here’s why:

There are plenty of studies that explore the impact of melodious sound on the brain. Listening to music on the job has been linked to increased performance, enhanced cognitive functioning, and even improved moods. Nevertheless, in a stressful workplace environment, a hasty choice of music can leave room for distraction. We’ve all turned to a classical playlist in an attempt at concentration, only to find your eyelids drooping with each additional measure of Bach. Alternatively, you have caught yourself jamming to the Top 40 before realizing that lip-syncing was interfering with your work. In either case, your choice of music led to a lapse in office productivity. That's where video game arrangements come in.

It turns out that gaming music meets all the criteria for optimal work productivity.

In fact, the music selection from many popular games is often strategic in its design, opting for classic and rousing scores, almost cinematic in their grandeur, to reflect the importance of the story and its characters. However, despite these larger than life protagonists, the discipline behind gaming music is much more precise. The scores are specifically composed to motivate participants while they play, and much like your days in the office – these soundtracks are played in the background to help assist accomplishment. While advancing to a more competitive level and preparing for a project presentation may not share many commonalities, both require focus and there is evidence that the game’s instrumental scores support both concentration and attention in the completion of complex tasks. Moreover, when played at a moderate volume, the ambient nature of the music improves productivity and even goes as far as to spur creativity.

So whether you’re actually playing a video game or just answering emails, listening to game soundtracks as a contractor or consultant can motivate you to take action and maybe even try for that ‘next level’ level of productivity. Find out if the sounds of Super Mario Bros. or Need for Speed are the unsung heroes of your work productivity.

Check out the playlist below:

Looking for something a little more laid back? Try these piano renditions of scores from the popular game, Legend of Zelda:

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