Memory Forum

Using a Video Game for a Memory Palace

by Josh Cohen on April 4, 2011

I was searching around online and found an interesting blog post called Mnemotechnics And Ultima Underworld II. (The author’s blog is here.)

The author of the blog post uses a video game to store some of his personal memories:

You knew this from the beginning but my keep is no physical palace. It’s a Memory Palace, a mental construct used before computers or even printing. Mine is based on the first floor of Lord British’s castle from Ultima Underworld II: Labyrinth of Worlds, a game that was the peak of the Western RPG before Morrowind. In UUII, you play the Avatar, a hero trapped in a castle whilst an enemy invades his world, and who must explore the maze of the basements to find the way out. Consider this, then, a retrospective about the sadly-defunct Ultima series, a discussion of an archaic psychological technique used by mystics since the dawn of time but curiously in abeyance during the modern era, and a pyx about the potential for the things we call games to become more than the structural limitations of engine design.

One of the most interesting items for me is in the comments: using a level editor to create memory journeys. Has anyone tried creating custom memory journeys using a video game level editor?

Wikipedia has a list of level editors.

I’ve never played UUII, but I did play Ultima IV many years ago. It was very primitive by today’s standards but highly enjoyable back then.

I’m still on the road at the moment, but will be posting regularly again once I get back to California.

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    { 8 comments… read them below or add one }

    1 Nicker April 6, 2011 at 3:31 pm

    Funny you should mention this. My friend was reminiscing about playing the sims, I was thinking about creating sims neighbourhood and using them as loci.

    2 Cole April 7, 2011 at 5:41 pm

    Great idea!

    3 Melanie January 10, 2012 at 9:50 pm

    My sister used the towns and roads from her Pokemon game as loci

    4 Kabanda June 9, 2012 at 5:55 am

    I agree! I play video games quite a bit and have found many of them follow a pre-determined path. I’ve played them so much, it’s easy to lock it in. In fact, I remember maps from Nintendo’s Golden Eye. :)

    5 janissary August 15, 2012 at 5:26 pm

    that idea has already crossed my mind. i am planing to use the sims to create my foreign language town (as dominic described in his book how to develop a perfect memory). do you think it’going to work?

    6 Josh Cohen August 16, 2012 at 5:51 am

    Give it a try with a couple hundred words and see how it goes…

    7 Thomas Wong January 20, 2014 at 9:25 pm

    This a great idea. I have been pondering the posibility of using a repeating scrolling landscape that you are familiar with. Using such a landscape seemed logical as it becomes highly familiar. Hadn’t considered using map editors though. Interesting.

    8 Levon June 24, 2014 at 1:20 pm

    Use minecraft mofos

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