Use video games to place things in order

by Tom

I like to play Call of Duty. I know the maps by heart because I have absorbed them by playing them over and over again. It takes no time at all to call up images in great detail. Just recently I decided to take these images and apply them to the method of loci.

For the work I do, there are 11 people who write permits for 57 towns (roughly 5 per person). So what I have done is I picked a Call of Duty map and placed the 11 people in strategic places. I placed men on one side, women on the other. Then for each person I made unique stories for each person.

For example, this woman Lisa writes permits for the towns of Bedford, Wellesley, Ashland, Dedham, Framingham, and Burlington. The mental image I have of Lisa is lying on a bed with the ashes of a dead Wesley Snipes (from the movie Blade), and she is framing a flyer from Burlington coat factory. I placed her in a very specific place so all I have to do is go to that place (which I have done thousands of times in the game) and I can see her lying there. So now whenever I need to know who wrote the permit for what town, I just need to fly around my map.

Doug's Reply. Tom, this is a wonderful example of the power and effectiveness of the Loci method. You've used your knowledge of the Call of Duty landscape to perfectly memorize nearly 60 different pieces of information for your job.

As you and I both know, by creating unusual, memorable, vivid mental stories and tying them to specific locations that you know backward and forward, you essentially guarantee that you won't mix up the information. As long as each story is unique and the mental images are clear, a mistake in recollection literally cannot be made. A far different result compared to someone who tries to remember the same facts by rote memorization.

In Roman times, orators and other educated people would physically walk through real places in their city to find new locations to peg information they wanted to remember. You've proven that the locations don't even have to be real! As long as you know the locations well, they work perfectly for memorization purposes.

Thanks very much for sharing your twist on the Loci method. Visitors to my site who play video games and who read about your technique will surely start brainstorming ways they can adapt their own game knowledge to help them memorize whatever it is they need to remember.

Best regards,
Douglas J.

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