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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Readers Comments (10)

  1. For me, it depends on the time of day. When I am gaming in the middle of the night when the rest of the house is sleeping, subtitles are crucial. If it’s the middle of the day, I prefer to listen. It all depends on the kind of game too. Like Halo 3, sounds is crucial.. if you have proper surround sound hooked up, you can tell what direction an enemy is coming from before you can see anything.

  2. In some games the way a word is said, does not help me with the spelling. If Oblivion did not have subtitles added in their game, I would not know how Kvatch is spelled.

  3. Revenge of The Sith = The Backstroke Of The West.

    Funny thing is I actually kinda like the backstroke title better.

  4. “Indiana Jones, the famous archaeology.”


  5. As far as games go, if a JRPG had english sub-text and menus I would be importing all the time. I prefer the original Japanese language and it would reduce the time myself and many other gamers would have to wait for certain games, or the ones we never get at all.

  6. in games I prefer to have subtitles – more out of tradition and because I’m not a native speaker and play most games in English – it’s nice to have a subtitle if you don’t understand a word.

  7. the time waiting for some JRPGs in the states is unbearable. Hell..sometimes the best games never make it here. I think with DC options etc, there’s no reason we shouldn’t be able to get the titles sooner. It would be very easy for them to create content we could download.

  8. Hi there, I fell lucky that I located this post while browsing for japanese music. I am with you on the topic of ese Gamers Would Rather Read than Listen. Ironically, I was just putting a lot of thought into this last Thursday.

  9. go jhon letter me ugly red car kitchen england wood

  10. QJBCdA hi! hice site!

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