Unlock Your Brain’s Potential: Enhance Memory with Minecraft and the Memory Palace Technique

How can you use Minecraft (and other games) to improve your brain's performance and memory capacity? Use the game and build your own memory palace using it! Follow easy step by step guide and become a memory master.
Ancient greek style palace in Minecraft-like environment, visualisation of possible memory palace.
Written by
Niina Meskus

Inspired by Pi Day, a blog post about memory and the combination of ancient techniques and modern technology to improve memory was born. How can you use Minecraft (and other games) to improve your brain's performance and memory capacity? Use the game and build your own memory palace using it!

Improve your memory by building yourself a memory palace

Some argue that the digital era is destroying the human ability to remember things and at the same time prematurely deteriorating our mental motherboard. There's no longer any need to hide anything in the gray brain cells when a portal to the universe of infinite knowledge, the Internet, is found in our pocket.

However, brain exercise and activation do very good for every one of us, and sometimes there is data and things we truly need to remember. For example, succeeding in exams and tests means that some sort of record must be able to be carved into the gray brain mass, which can be dug up when needed.

Mnemonics and memory techniques are a good tool in this storage work. And in this writing, I present one ancient, but very effective technique that everyone can try either with or without Minecraft. Step into the memory palace!

What is the memory palace technique?

Already the ancient Greeks and Romans used the memory palace or the method of loci. At the core of the technique is a place that exists in our imagination, which we can see with our mind’s eye whenever we need it. This place is decorated with various images that are linked to things and data we want to remember. Our imaginative journey to our own memory palace reminds us of these important bits of information, and we can recall them by visiting in our imagination. Extremely handy especially when the phone's battery is dead or you do not have access to the wonderful world of the Internet.

The effectiveness of the memory palace technique

Studies have shown that the memory palace technique is a tremendously effective memory enhancer. It exploits the brain's innate ability to remember spaces and images better than abstract information. When information is associated with vivid, sometimes even outlandish, images that you can place in each location, we can significantly improve our ability to remember it.

Combining Minecraft with the memory palace technique

Sometimes it can be difficult to get your child to focus on studying for exams or learning things. Mary Poppins knew it too; sometimes a spoonful of sugar needs to be added to the medicine to get it down. Combining the building of a memory palace with studying for a particularly important exam can produce surprisingly good results.

Minecraft is in itself an attractive location, where one can create various environments, landscapes, and structures. Many already have ready-made places there, which can be harnessed for one's memory palace building project. Here is a list to create your own memory palace in Minecraft from scratch.

Stage 1: Build a palace

The location does not need to be an actual palace. It can be any structure that is easily navigable and from which a clear route can be found to walk through. It's important that the structure has various locations (rooms, areas) that can be used for storing memories. Minecraft's creative mode allows you to build practically anything you can imagine, helping you create strong visual memories. A sentimental attachment to the place improves the technique's effectiveness during the building project. Often people use their own home as a memory palace because of its familiarity. It's important that you know every corner of your memory palace like the back of your own hand and you are able to navigate there even with your eyes closed without getting lost.

Stage 2: Plan and learn the route through your location

Once the structure is ready, a route through it must be planned. Generally, remembering is easier if the route goes, for example, clockwise and from bottom to top. It can start, perhaps, from the front door and end in a hot tub located on the roof terrace. It's important that the rememberer can always travel the route in the same order and back and forth.

Stage 3: List the things you want to remember and create visualizations for them

If you're learning, for example, the decimals of pi, it's important to break the series of numbers into smaller sequences and create a visual image for each. Memory rules are very personal and strongly based on our memories. For example, for me, two consecutive nines bring to mind Wayne Gretzky and Nena's song 99 Luftballons. So, at that point on the memory palace path, I might place Gretzky dancing with 99 balloons in his hands. For you, it might be something completely different. It's important to transform the data to very clearly memorable visual images, which you can place in your own memory palace. The more memorable the images are, the easier it is for the brain to remember them. If you're learning the capitals of Europe and think that you'll remember the capital of Great Britain by placing the letter L in a desired location, you might well forget it. But if at the location of London there's a Labrador retriever trying to jump on its hind legs to catch Long Doughnuts falling from the sky, you’ll hardly forget the image of the location.

Stage 4: Place the Images in Locations

It’s time to place the visual images inside your memory palace along the route you’ve learned. Although the placement is primarily done in the imagination, you can also place memory-enhancing elements in the desired locations within the Minecraft structure.

Stage 5: Walk the Memory Path and Visit Your Memory Palace Often

Visiting your memory palace repeatedly strengthens the memory trace and facilitates remembering. You can reinforce particularly difficult-to-remember spots by interacting with your mnemonic. For example, you could give high fives with Gretzky or dance with the London labrador.

Stage 6: Further Develop or Recycle Your Memory Palace

After the exam, if desired, you can reset the memory palace by removing related parts from it. But it can also be expanded. For example, you could build a vast palace for a new language’s vocabulary, expanding it with each vocabulary test. At some point, just searching for the location in the depths of your mind brings to mind the necessary words and their spelling.

Remembering Is Fun

The initial stages of the memory palace can be laborious, but learning the technique can be quite fun, especially when done together with your child. While building the palace, you can discuss the topic being learned. Additionally, you’ll learn a lot about your child and the things important to them as you contemplate how to visualize the information to be remembered.

School of Gaming offers several different lessons where various projects and environments are built that can be used as the basis for a memory palace. For example, in Monday’s Minecraft lesson, historical structures and cities are built, which can be directly used for studying for history exams.

If building in Minecraft is new to you, you can also try it during our open door days.

Not Just for Children

For many, games and their worlds create very profound memory traces, which can be utilized in building one’s memory palace. For example, I can still recall each frame of  the first level of Super Mario and could very well use it in building a memory palace.

A memory palace can be used for all kinds of memorization. You can mentally walk through it while holding an important presentation, and you won’t forget the key points. You have all your important phone numbers with you at all times, you won’t forget to bring milk from the shop, learning new processes at work is a breeze, and when you get to know new people, you make good impression next time you meet them by remembering their daughters name, their renovation project and how they love coffee. In addition, you keep your brain happy and healthy.

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