For the kinds of games most Nintendo gamers are interested in, Japanese is a lingua franca (not literally, of course). Nintendo games are often released earlier in Japan than in other regions, if they even get to other regions. The same is true of third-party stuff: so much weird and interesting material never makes it to the West. Therefore, learning the Japanese language is a great way to expand your gaming possibilities.
Given our (my) own level of Japanese proficiency (which falls between novice and mute), we thought it would be interesting to poll the rest of you. Who has studied Japanese expressly for gaming purposes? Have you taken formal classes? Picked up some books? Are you a dutiful Japanesepod101.com listener? Or have you just learned some katakana from the web, for navigating menus?
We'd love to hear about your experiences and your self-assessment of your progress. No need to feel embarrassed about slow progress; language learning is hard. At least that's what we tell ourselves.
Reader Comments (Page 1 of 1)
8-05-2007 @ 11:28AM
Handwritten character identification software combined with Google translate for me!
8-05-2007 @ 12:49PM
I bought me first Japanese language book when I was in middle school. My first import was Monster Rancher; although most of the effort was done so that I could play Sakura Taisen. I've made much progress from those days of scribbling kana in my notebooks, three bloody long years of university level instruction (the first two classes used the same book I bought back in middle school). Yet, I only know just enough to manage and get by while romping though games. It has yet to stop me from importing nor will it ever.
8-05-2007 @ 1:05PM
I studied abroad in Japan for four months. Before going there I knew next to nothing and now I know a fair amount. I'm still working on kanji but I can somewhat get by in games, especially if they have furigana. I didn't go because of Japanese games and anime, but because I really like Japanese culture and I'd like to do business there in my future job.
8-05-2007 @ 2:35PM
I have a Master's degree in Japanese Studies from Munich University (Germany). I also spent 1 year studying abroad in Japan. My wife is Japanese, so I guess my level of Japanese is quite good.
Of course I use my knowledge to play lots and lots of weird and wacky (and some normal ones, too eventually) Japanese games.
In the last years I played through e.g. Wind Waker, Phantom Hourglass and others before they were even out in the West. That's nice. ;)
I also played Big Brain Academy and Brain Age in Japanese and scored very high, which I'm proud of, because there are lots of Japanese language questions in there.
8-05-2007 @ 2:54PM
I am the ugly American. :(
8-05-2007 @ 3:03PM
Bryan W said...
Heck, I LIVE in Japan and I can barely speak Japanese. Can someone just give me a walk through?
8-05-2007 @ 3:16PM
I know a little Japanese ( studied for 4 year inclding 6 months in Japan ) and the games were part of the reason. I guess I just like all the multi-media that Japan has to offer.
8-05-2007 @ 6:58PM
I've been studying the Japanese language for a few weeks now, picking it up rather quickly. I suggest the Japancast.net podcast at www.japancast.net It's a blog and podcast. I've also picked up a CD set of Pimsleur's Basic Japanese 1 off Amazon and the book An Innovative Approach to Speaking and Reading Japanese - Japanese Step by Step.
There's also a great old video series called "Lets Learn Japanese". It's from the '70s or '80s, but language is relatively finite so the lessons are still applicable. Demonoid has a torrent for it, search for Lets Learn Japanese, the torrent also includes the workbooks in PDF format.
8-05-2007 @ 9:59PM
I learnt japanese for 2 months in a class, then now currently self-learning..
Since I'm a chinese, I'm glad Kanji is no problem for me.. in fact I read kanji faster than katakana..
for import games I know most kanji and katakana.. hiragana words I don't really understand much.. so, still stuck for the storyline of It's a wonderful world though
8-06-2007 @ 9:54AM
I learned Japanese through listening. Whether it was through an immersion class in 1st grade, japanesepost101.com, Pimsleur, Berlitz, or Rosetta Stone, or just watching anime. but the best advice I can give anyone is this: PRACTICE!
Yes, practice is the key. Don't be afraid to make mistakes and embarrass yourself. That is the true way to learn it.
8-06-2007 @ 11:33AM
I've never been to any lessons. All my Japanese studying has been done online; I do have a few dictionaries, but most of my learning has been from reading Japanese books, playing Japanese games and watching anime (which I keep to a minimum). If you think I probably suck, then all I can say is: I played all the Phoenix Wright games in Japanese first and finished them too.
8-06-2007 @ 3:38PM
I've started teaching myself Japanese, but not solely for gaming. I've never imported any game, though I've been tempted a few times. After about a year of study, I'm still not proficient enough to read a long story, watch a movie, or read video game text in real time. But I'll get there someday!
Practice really is the key. You won't get anywhere if you don't apply what you learn everyday. That's why immersion is so often recommended, if you can afford it. Otherwise, here are the resources I've personally tried and recommend:
Pimsleur's audio lessons for very basic grammar and vocabulary.
James Heisig's "Remembering the Kana" & "Remembering the Kanji" to begin reading Japanese.
Giles Murray's "Breaking Into Japanese Literature" to practice reading (this is still a little advanced for me).
Kodansha has a good series of dictionaries for beginners.
Finally, I haven't found a structured, lesson-based text that satisfies me. I've flipped through these at bookstores and they all seem to offer something good:
"Japanese for Busy People"
"Japanese for Everyone"
"Japanese the Manga Way"
"Manga-jin's Basic Japanese Through Comics" (shown above)
The best advice I've heard is to start learning the spoken language and basic reading at the same time. Learn kana so you can start reading words, but also start learning some kanji early. The rest of your studies should involve mastering advanced kanji/vocabulary and the finer nuances of the language.
If anyone else has recommendations, please share them!
8-06-2007 @ 11:01PM
Another century's Gamer said...
Another Century's Episode was my first push to learning japanese. Though thats a ps2 game, memorizing characters and phrases from conversations, and having a handy little japenese to english dictionary come quite in handy when playing japanese titles on my DS.
Check out my blog!
8-06-2007 @ 11:36PM
Learned a little Japanese for menu navigation in Dreamcast games, went on from there. Pokemon games were cool because they aren't Kanji heavey.
8-07-2007 @ 4:56AM
i have that book!
8-07-2007 @ 10:41AM
I understand hearing Japanese fairly well. I can't read worth crap, though. I speak it very, very, VERY slowly.