Japanese Would Rather Read than Listen

In a survey taken by game journalists in 2007, it’s discoveries about Japanese gamers inspired me to write about it. Ever notice that most games made in Japan have subtitles? (and not because they’re in Japanese, wiseguy) Well that’s because the Japanese would rather read than listen. Is that the developer’s choice to not include audio? some video game analysts say “no”. “It’s hard to emphasize certain points of the game.” Sure, you can show a character angry, but you can read ‘What’s he doing here?’ two ways”. Without a voice I would read the sentence as it’s written. But without a voice it would be difficult to know that he meant ‘What’s HE doing here?’, adding emphasis on the word he. My capitalization may or not make sense, thus my need in audio.

The Japanese dislike listening to video games, and could be a reason why Japan made games are developed quicker. When you add another element to a game, it produces an overhead that subtitled games do not. Call it culture or call them efficient, but their gaming and movie habits are identical.

On the other side of the globe in America, subtitles in games are rarely used when there’s audio. American’s in general rather listen than read. It’s is no coincidence that the US sales for “Audio Books” is in the billions.

In 2005 cassette-tape sales made up roughly 16% of the audio book market,[1] with CD sales accounting for 74% of the market and downloadable audio books accounting for approximately 9%. In the United States, the most recent sales survey (performed by the Audio Publishers’ Association in the summer of 2006 for the year 2005) estimated the industry to be worth 871 million US dollars. Current industry estimates are around two billion US dollars at retail value per year.

Personally I’d rather read and listen. I’ve watched some movies that have Spanish speaking parts, with American subtitles and said “That’s not even close to what he said”. Subtitles, in my opinion, are entered in by the lowest form of a typist. They read a script, and interpret it into what they believe is the correct word. Check out below for some really bad caption from Star Wars in Mandarin, subtitled back into English.

After speaking with many gamers from other websites, their opinions vary. There is no right or wrong answer but your preference.

If you’ve ever run accross an incorrect caption or subtitle, let us know.


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