When you can suddenly read a kanji
without having actively studied it
– that’s such a great feeling!
IF YOU LOVE A GAME
NO LANGUAGE BARRIER CAN STOP YOU!
Know Your Level
I personally recommend having a basic knowledge of Japanese grammar before you start reading games. But I also know people who just started with basic kana knowledge or others who waited till the intermediate stages – it’s up to you.
Extensive vs intensive reading
Extensive reading describes reading for longer sessions at your level or even below your level. In theory you shouldn’t need to look up a lot, but rather read for reading’s sake, not exactly for learning.
Intensive reading is – well intense. You choose a text that is actually a bit too difficult for you or that you study really intently, by trying to understand every single word and analyse every single grammar construction.
I personally don’t pay much attention to this distinction, but play whatever game I want to – if I love a game, no language barrier can stop me!
There are a lot of helpful dictionary (apps).
Most famous is probably Jisho.org,
For Apple users I recommend that as well, as it comes with the native function to draw kanji – rather than looking up by radicals.
For Android users I recommend Takoboto Japanese dictionary. For one single reason: you can make word lists (nothing special) and can DIRECTLY export them to AnkiDroid and that was a complete game changer for me! In one second you have all your flashcards with reading, pitch accent and example sentence ready to be learned! (And can later add screenshots of the game to the card to make the learning even more engaging)
implicit vs explicit learning
Is immersion learning better than textbook-learning?
Not necessarily, no. It’s just a different approach, that comes with its own benefits and disadvantages.
One huge difference is how you learn with immersion. When you learn a language by immersing and reading, you learn passively, without necessarily cramming grammar. You learn like small children do, without noticing, but also probably without being able to explain, why a grammar structure feels right, but rather knowing it intuitively. Personally I think this is more advantageous the more advanced you get.
And this scratches only the surface of the world of immersion learning.
One favourite resource especially for playing on PC is the learn Japanese the Moe way community.
And of course you can add your spaced repetition system to your learning schedule and even add screenshots of the game sentences to the Anki cards (if you playing on consoles and you can’t apply the Moe approach).
But above all:
Don’t forget to enjoy yourself!