One of the great things about learning a new language is the amount of things you can do guilt-free.
Maybe it’s my upbringing, but for whatever reason, I feel guilty doing a lot of normal things. Take writing a blog post after work hours are over. Like, couldn’t I be doing something better or more productive? Yeah, the work day is over, but the fact that I’m still in the building means I should probably doing something to benefit my workplace. Sure, technically I’m still here because I’m waiting for a teacher to get back to talk to, but there must be something else I can do. I’m just not very creative.
Also, staying after school, even if you’re not working, is a great way to build workplace relationships. But that’s neither here nor there.
Guilt. It’s stopped me from doing things. Ironically, it’s pretty much always a bad thing. Paralyzing. Instead of doing something pointless, it’ll make me do nothing at all.
Guilt: “You’re going to play that game? But you already beat it.”
Me: “But I’ve got nothing else to play…”
Guilt: “There are thousands of other games out there! Play one of those.”
Guilt: “And stop ending your sentences with ellipses. You’re embarrassing yourself.”
Me: “[. . .]”
Okay, he’s back. But we’re both in the teacher’s room, and it’s dead quiet in spite of there being six people, myself included. I don’t really want to talk in the middle of everyone, as it’s more common Japanese practice to bring up a topic 1-on-1 with a lot of separate people. When it comes to important decisions, they need to be made on a bunch of small scales before anything public happens.
So I’m waiting for him to leave the room so I can sneak attack him with a 1-on-1 convo.
Oh, the decision? The thing I want to talk about? It’s kinda secret, but it basically amounts to trying to find time at the elementary school to show English television programs.
Anyways, back on topic.
On Choosing Games
So I play games every day. I now wake up and play games before I start my day. I play games before going to sleep. And ever since I enacted a rule years ago stating that I couldn’t have more then two “main” games going on at the same time (a rule made so that I would finish games instead of just getting to the final boss and not finishing), the decision of what games to play is semi-important.
A long time ago, I hated flash games. I thought they were the basest form of gaming.
Then I found Mardek.
Now I’m level 38 on Kongregate.
In the same vein, I hated replaying games I’ve already beaten. I thought that there were so many games out there that playing one I’ve already finished was a waste of my time. Didn’t I already have memories of it?
He’s just sitting there.
Oh, man, he got up.
Uh, but it’s just to talk to the vice principal. Real business and stuff.
He’s going back to his seat now. He looks tired. Not sure if talking makes sense anymore. I want to catch him in a good mood after all. But Japanese people are often tired. Will there ever be a good time?
The Guilt Banisher: Language Learning
And we come to the main point. There’s a cool aspect to language learning: so many things that cause me paralyzing guilt now don’t because they are improving my Japanese.
One thing that always gives me guilt: reading fantasy for fun. Especially manga. Well, now that’s out of the way. No more guilt there when I pick up another volume of Shingeki no Kyojin. That’s my textbook, bro!
Not to mention—
He got up!
To go to wash his cup. It’s in another room, but still connected to this one through an open door. Do I go?
Nah, too slow. He finished already. Damn my writing!
Anywho, he seems ready to go. Just closed his computer and all that. I got the eyes of a hawk. I’ll go intercept him outside.
Well, I’m back, and unfortunately, I semi-failed in my mission. I mean, to avoid seeming suspicious in my waiting position, I just talked about weekend plans. His were だらだら (leisurely, not doing much), according to him. I didn’t know that word, but apparently jisho remembers me looking at it in the past. Like, I really don’t remember this word at all. Hopefully this time will be the charm. Probably not though.
Get On With It
Okay, sorry, back. So, language learning basically means you can do whatever you want as long as it’s in the language.
- Bad youtube videos? If it’s in the language.
- Playing hack-and-slash video games? The attack button doesn’t say “attack” in English, does it?
- Eat chips and ice cream? How would I know how to open the container without reading all the Japanese on it.
- Watch an old movie for the ten thousandth time? Hell, you’re not even taking a break! You’re studying.
- Kill a man? Wait, what?
And for me, I can finally play those old games again. Incidentally, it’s not just the language that makes the games different. Like an old book you read in grade school, seeing it again changes the experience so entirely that it’s like a new experience again.
Right! The most important part!
If it’s a game from Japan, for instance, and you first played it in English, then it’s a perfect tool to learn Japanese! Not only do you know the story and what to do, allowing you to focus on the language, but you also get to see how the plot was originally conveyed. You don’t have to be a hipster to appreciate the fact that an original source is exactly how the game was envisioned.
Now go replay some old games in Japanese!