One of my favorite videogame ambience YouTube channels has a collection of cozy PC gaming 'yule logs' to get you in the holiday spirit

in-game fireplace in Oblivion's Oak and Crosier inn with a stuffed deer head over the fire
(Image credit: Bethesda, Y2K Era PC Game Aesthetics)

There is an entire universe of beats out there on YouTube, low-fi or otherwise, that you can relax/study to, but I'm a big fan of "videogame ambience" videos. It's not just a soundtrack rip, but long cuts of actual in game footage with all the other assorted sights and sounds adding to the experience.

One of my favorite channels for this sort of thing is Y2K Era PC Game Aesthetics, and for the holiday season, they've been sharing half-hour videos of PC gaming "yule logs." We're about three layers of playful riffing deep here⁠. 

In our alienated digital age people started making long videos of crackling hearths to satisfy apartment dwellers and the like who can't stoke fires themselves, while Y2KE PCGA is taking the bit even further with footage of cozy fireplaces from videogames. Here are a few of my favorites:

Oblivion: The Oak and Crosier

Really, I don't know if you could have picked a comfier city in all of Cyrodil. Bruma has the snow, but it always gave me more of a muddy, late January slush impression, while Cheydinhal is lovely but unfortunately plays host to a murder cult.

Chorrol's Arborwatch is the second-most expensive house in the game, so I see this burg as having a real tony, fudge shop and gazebo small town kind of vibe. In a Tamrielic Hallmark movie, it's where an uptight professional from the Imperial City would find themself trapped for the holidays, not yet realizing they're ready to learn to love again.

Thief 2: Rumford Manor

All these years later and the Thief series still has some of the best audio I've ever heard in a game. The background music for the Rumford Manor is all spooky and atmospheric⁠—maybe a good fit for being visited by mournful specters⁠—but the crackle on that fireplace, it sounds just like the real thing.

Deus Ex: Paris Cathedral

Conversely, Ion Storm's opus doesn't have much sound coming off that there log. This is not a "roaring" fire, but I'll be damned if the Paris Cathedral doesn't have my favorite music in the Deus Ex soundtrack. It's so regal and almost mournfully nostalgic, with that organ line still giving me shivers.

The Deus Ex and Oblivion logs also benefit from some ambient dialogue in the background as well. Some Breton guy has the same Radiant dialogue about Mudcrabs or the Fighters' Guild in Oblivion, while here you can make out a security bot in the background while the two MJ12 guards cough and hum to themselves. Maybe in the spirit of the holidays you can go easy on them, just this once. Stick with the prod.

You can check out more from Y2K Era PC Game aesthetics on their Twitter and YouTube pages.

Associate Editor

Ted has been thinking about PC games and bothering anyone who would listen with his thoughts on them ever since he booted up his sister's copy of Neverwinter Nights on the family computer. He is obsessed with all things CRPG and CRPG-adjacent, but has also covered esports, modding, and rare game collecting. When he's not playing or writing about games, you can find Ted lifting weights on his back porch.