Steam Powered Learning

If you’re not familiar with Steam, it’s a digital distribution platform for games on PC, Mac, and Linux. And it’s available in Japanese. Unlike with many consoles (except the Playstation 3 and PSPs, thank you Sony) there are no region locks of any kind when it comes to playing games in Japanese. It’s simply a matter of changing the language.


One thing to keep in mind though is while many games are available in full, beautiful Japanese, not all titles are. And where some games such as Skyrim have 100% Japanese text and voice acting, others like Portal 2 for example, only have text translated. Then you have the rare Japanese developer, ie SquareEnix, where the titles are actually originally in Japanese. As shown in the picture below, you can always check this before purchasing a title, or even try a demo if one is available.

The * indicates languages that also includes voice acting. Notice 日本語 isn't starred. Watch out for these!

The * indicates languages that also includes voice acting. Notice that 日本語 is present, but isn’t starred.

This is a really great source of games for people learning Japanese, not only because of the lack of a region lock, but also because delivery is instant. I remember looking in the mailbox every day in hopes of my order of 二の国 for PS3 being in there. With Steam, you can be enjoying the time sucking vampire that is The Sims 3, in Japanese, within minutes.


If you need some titles to get you started, here are a few I’d especially recommend, along with how Japanese they are.

  • Skyrim (Full voice acting, all text and menus translated)
  • The Sims 3 (Voices are in Simlish as always, all text and menus translated. You need to do a little hack to get Japanese to show up though.)
  • Civilization V (English voices, all text and menus translated)
  • Portal 2 (English voices, all text and menus translated)
  • The Last Remnant (Demo available, full voice acting, all text and menus translated.)

Being able to get Japanese games on Steam without having to worry about region locks or even shipping has made my gaming time skyrocket. May it do the same for you!

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