Learn Japanese to Survive is going to be my very first game recommendation, and I’ve chosen it because it provides a clear example of how video games can be an excellent educational resource. The game is a very literal example of gaming to learn because, as the title suggests, it is entirely based on teaching you the basics of the Japanese Hiragana. The twist is that players learn to both read and write the Hiragana alongside fun and engaging RPG gameplay!
The plot of the game is pretty simple with the idea being that the player needs to learn the Hiragana characters in order to proceed and beat the game. Players go through a series of nicely illustrated, bite-size lessons in which they are shown the characters, what they mean, and how to write them. They are then tested on these characters by having to fight actual people-sized versions of them in RPG battles! Enemy Hiragana warriors attack the player as they explore the world, and they can only be damaged by correctly giving their english equivalent . A number of NPCs add further flavour to the story with witty comments and side-quests in which you can learn useful words and sentences in Hiragana as well.
I’ve wanted to learn Japanese for quite some time due to my love of anime and Japanese culture, however I never found the learning material engaging enough to motivate me to continue until I discovered this game. I haven’t actually finished the entire game yet but I’ve played a descent proportion of it now and I’m finding it a brilliantly innovative way to keep me interested in learning the Hiragana. As a huge JRPG fan, I’ve found being able to learn by repetition through grinding in battles so much more rewarding than trying and failing to stare at a textbook or flashcards all day! I can’t help but feel that learning for my GCSE Spanish would have been so much easier if only I’d had a tool like this to help me instead of endless notes upon which I usually fell asleep 😛
If you’ve been wanting to learn Japanese and struggling to get (or keep!) going, or just want a taste of what gameplay designed to teach can be like, then I hugely recommend this game 😀
Learn Japanese To Survive! Hiragana Battle can be bought on steam for £4.99 – so it’s not even expensive! If you’re feeling keen you can actually buy this game along with the two other games in this series (one for the Katakana and one for the Kanji), and then you’ll be a true Japanese Expert!
The link to the Steam page is here: Steam Page
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