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Using Video Games for Language Learning

So, aside from lessons, movies, and music. Video games seem like a logical next step as a learning tool, and as a matter of fact, I have found that the only language learning game I could find InFluent is a big help, in that it creates a much more interactive learning environment. After learning how effective this type of learning can be, I decided to ask you, the Duolingo language learning community, if you know of any other such games, or any ways to turn a traditional video game into an interactive language learning experience.

I understand that video games have a certain stigma attached to them, but when you think about it, they can be great learning tools, allowing a level of interaction and immersion not possible with ordinary methods, and in my honest opinion, the video game venue is sorely lacking in content that could capitalize on the learning potential it contains.

So, if you know of anything similar to what I am seeking, or have good advice as to finding such experiences, please do let me know.

I look forward to hearing from you, Thanks!

May 6, 2015



While not language training games, there are quite a few games on Steam that are playable in a number of differnet languages. If you go to the steampowered site, you can narrow your search by language. I think the language can add to the experience (Metro 2033 in Russian).

Edit: Check out the Skyrim (and other) videos here.


Yeah I tried this, and the problem is that very few games have voice acting in other languages, some languages work better than others, obviously. But it seems like the only languages that games support are English, French, Spanish, and sometimes German. I am currently learning Greek, and so far I have only found a couple games in Greek. But this is great idea, especially if you spend a lot of time playing video games.


Russian is also quite well supported in some bigger games. A word of warning, though: since it is always a translation, the quality may vary, and shorter passages in bigger games might be not quite natural or be not an exact translation (I mean, when a translator HAS to choose between staying natural, staying true to the original and staying within the acceptable length of a sentence — think of a short 1-second sentence in a cutscene).

I think, adventure games (eg. A New Beginning) are quite good regardless of the original language. Their texts are rather long and there are rarely any rigid size constraints, so a translator has a fuller understanding of context—and can sound as natural as if the game was created in their native language (if the translator is not lazy).

It is quite funny how a game made in Russia (like Heroes of Might and Magic V or The Void) or the one that has a localisation (Mass Effect, Assassin's Creed, Psychonauts) often does not have Russian support on Steam. My guess is, these localisation had often been produced for retail market, so the original publisher might not have any rights to use the Russian version of their game.


Yeah, the problem I have is that the only game I have that is in Greek is Team Fortress 2. But in a way it does not surprise me, considering the economic situation they are in is less than comfortable, and as such I would imagine Greeks are not a huge consumer of Video Games, thus companies feel no need to translate and waste money on an almost nonexistent demographic. Not to mention that all the gamers I know from Greece can fluently speak English.


I've found, after this suggestion came up, that most of the 2K games are very well rounded in terms of multilingual voice acting. Most of their titles are also very immersive, so, it might be worth looking through their catalog.


This has been my strategy, as well. I spend a lot of time playing GTA V and Skyrim, so I changed the languages in these games, and so far, I think it's been very helpful. Albeit, at first, it was VERY overwhelming, seeing all these new words, but only understanding, at best, 1% of the text and spoken words.


Well... there was the "My _ Coach" Nintendo DS series... I have the Japanese one it was pretty good.

Besides that I would check any and all your video games for language options... pretty much any game I have with a Japanese option has been turned fully Japanese to force me to read and learn.

Most games can be easily changed back at any time. Memorize the menu so you can easily switch the language back if need be. Learn also what your native language is called in your L2 so you can switch back more easily.

Some games won't allow you to change back once you've chosen your language (I'm looking at YOU pokemon X and Y) so be prepared. I've actually gone ahead and accepted the challenge of playing a game I've NEVER played before in my L2... and since I can only understand 1/4 to 1/2 (if I'm lucky) of what I read it's quite the challenge. And since the game in question IS Pokemon Y... I can't change back... and if I do... I lose all my pokemon... so I may never actually know the full storyline. XD Oh well.

My opinion on the matter is if it's made BY native speakers FOR native speakers it's kosher to use as a learning tool. This includes video games, books, movies, cartoons, comics, whatever. Just also be sure to know your politeness levels (if applicable) before hand, so you can gauge what is okay to say in a native environment and what is rude and slangy.

Good luck!


You can download an emulator for gba and play pokemon in a different languages; although you won't be able to exercise listening skills.


Im going to blackops in Italian for ps3 its interactive but probably not gonna learn as much I suppose but something is better than nothing, just a little more knowledge. People don't understand the potential that games could have in the learning experience though, i thought about it ther other day if people spent the same amount of time learning a language as they did playing a game their would be 10x more polyglots than there are now its just that its not convenient for some people cost and they don't wanna waste time doing something that doesn't show immediate pay off but if it was fun they would do it all day longg

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