When playing a video game in another language, the main difficulty you will face is large amounts of text.
When the experience is very visual without the need for much language to explain what’s going on then it makes things a lot easier. Sounds obvious right? The problem is we don’t always know which types of games these are.
Below is a compiled list of games that are great to help supplement your English learning while having fun. These are arranged by difficulty level.
As well as amount of “text to gameplay”, these difficulty ratings are based on the pace of a game and style of language. A slower paced game is generally a lot easier to understand than a faster paced one that has a lot of information appearing quickly.
Moreover it’s a lot easier to understand a game using standard simple English rather than slang or language specific to the game.
It is important to note that these are all mainstream games. There are a lot of educational or “edutainment” games out there which can be very beneficial (maybe even more beneficial) than these, but if you are just looking to have some fun with a little extra English benefit then these are for you.
The Super Mario games are about as simple as they get. Most of the challenges are visual and require you to have good timing for jumps / beating enemies. A good place to start is with the early games that have less story. Later games tend to have more text and information so maybe save them for later.
One of the most popular racing game series of all time and a very low language barrier. You will need to navigate the menus but for actual gameplay there’s very little English needed. There is a bit of information on screen but not enough to overwhelm you. A great place to start.
Another game that is very visual. There is a little more English with this as you will have to understand the challenges and the story (in later games) but in terms of general gameplay it’s very easy to get going. THPS 1 & 2 are considered by many to be the best in the series.
The Pokemon games have a bit more story that you will have to follow. However, for most of the games in the series, they are text-based and as the games are designed for all ages (accessible for kids) the language is fairly simple.
Although the Halo games are again very visual (point gun -> pull trigger). There are still quite a few cutscenes and these are usually fairly fast paced. On top of this you will be updated with objectives fairly often (by audio) which makes this series a little more difficult.
If you are just wanting to explore the open world, steal a few cars and cause a riot then you don’t need a great deal of English to do so. However the story has a lot of cutscenes, plenty of slang to decipher and enough profanity to last a lifetime!
To finish this list we have to look at the Final fantasy series. The gameplay of these takes some navigation to get around the battle screens but the story is what really makes this tough. You will find an assortment of different styles of speech as well as the sheer amount of it (FFVII has 96,000 lines of text and 344,000 words in it’s script!). Luckily the earlier games are text based so you aren’t rushed but it will take some time to complete!
Interested in other types of games? Why not try out these Tongue Twisters!
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