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Playing Video Games in Japanese: Motivation, Language Learning, and Navigation


Playing Video Games in Japanese: Motivation, Language Learning, and Navigation

Smith, Gabriel Edward (2014) Playing Video Games in Japanese: Motivation, Language Learning, and Navigation. Masters thesis, Concordia University.

Text (application/pdf)
Smith_MA_S2014.pdf - Accepted Version


This qualitative study explores the phenomenon of people who play Japanese video games but neither read, speak, nor understand Japanese. The research questions include: What motivates people to play a video game in a language they do not understand? What do people learn from playing games in a language they do not understand? How do they navigate the game without being able to understand the language? In the study, three participants were observed playing the Japanese action role-playing game Tales of Rebirth first released in 2004 for the PlayStation 2 and then interviewed about their experiences. Data was summarized and then analyzed using a three-level approach based on grounded theory. The study showed that the participants played Japanese games due to the lack of comparable games in their native language. They were motivated by in-game rewards and may have been conditioned to succeed in the games through years of playing video games at home in their native languages. The participants learned little if any Japanese from playing these games; they could play the game and succeed at it without knowledge of the language. Participants leveraged prior experience with games to navigate through games in the absence of language because the gameplay was linear. Participants used trial and error as well as icon and character recognition to navigate the game. Although participants did not learn Japanese vocabulary, the evidence suggests they learned other skills, such as computer literacy and Japanese character recognition.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Education
Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Authors:Smith, Gabriel Edward
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:M.A.
Program:Educational Technology
Date:1 April 2014
Thesis Supervisor(s):Carliner, Saul
Keywords:video games, language learning, navigation
ID Code:978419
Deposited On:26 Jun 2014 20:43
Last Modified:18 Jan 2018 17:46


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