I wrote a blog post roughly two weeks ago give or take a day. It was called “Seeing the Light in the Monster” and it related to a very popular video game called Monster Hunter portable, for PSP. If you’ve never lived in Japan, you might not realize how popular this game is, but it’s up there with Pokemon and Metal Gear Solid. That said, when I was living in Japan I was trying to motivate myself to believe that “one day I would be able to play a Japanese video game”. So I went to Shibuya a few times, walked around trying to find an “easy” game to play. Problem was, I couldn’t read any of the game covers, any of the Japanese explaining the games, and I had no idea what the games were about… so I just grabbed the cheapest one I could find, which was Monster Hunter Portable 2, as you can see below.
So just two weeks ago, emboldened by things I wasn’t aware of, I tried to actually play the game. The first time I tried this in Japan, it was an EPIC failure. I could barely navigate the menus much less figure out where to go. So two weeks ago, I very patiently tried playing the game. I was surprised that I could read more than I realized, but I still had a very very low vocabulary. However, I was able to at least chat to one character in the village before burning out.
What happened Today
I was pretty shocked by what I am able to read after just two weeks of doing new vocabulary. At the first part of the game, a character is saying something like
“Wake up man? You are the hunter that killed the dragon eh? Time to get out of bed” (this is a bad, very, very, VERY loose translation) but I was able to see what they were saying.
This is the same picture I posted two weeks ago. I couldn’t really read it, but now I am see that the guy I’m talking to is saying something like if I find items I can bring them to him, and he will always be standing where he is. I mean this follows the common theme of a RPG, there is a sleazy guy who will buy contraband, a crazy town guy who will send you on a “quest”, and a place you can shop and so on. I ran around to a few shops and was able to read through a good bit of different conversations before burning out. What is killing me is vocabulary. I honestly just don’t know what some words are, and I cannot figure them out in context yet. But some words are immediately clear (these are words that I’ve learned in SRSing the Core2000). So my original observation, about learning tons of words and sentences is starting to prove itself. After two weeks of almost maddening drills and repetitions.
Another thing I noticed.
I idly glanced at this the other day, and found that I could read and understand almost all of the information on the warning label. I was also able to get an “idea” of what the story on the back was saying. This is MAJOR. Simply because I could NOT in ANYWAY read this say… four to five months ago. What’s even more bizarre is that like I said, I have only started learning new vocabulary over the last two weeks or so, previously, I was only operating from a point of “identifiable comprehension” where I was listening merely to listen, not to understand. Now that I am combining the two, I am starting to see results. Today I listened to about an hour of Japanese political commentary from a DVD I have while I was doing some video editing, and I was pleased to hear tons of words I studied in the Core2000 step three about governments and elections and so on.
So can I play the game yet?
Functionally, no. I can navigate some of the menus, I can see how to get from place to place, but i am not entirely understanding what the characters are telling me yet, which means I am not sure exactly what to do. Of course, I “could” just skip through what they are saying, run around and figure it out painfully in steps. But i’d rather learn a few hundred more sentences, come back to it and see if its easier to follow. I am sure when I reach two thousand or three thousand sentences (on top of extensive reading) I should be able to navigate the game a lot better.
But it’s only been two weeks
So I need to keep things relative. Just the few stories and manga i’ve read have drastically helped me understand a lot of basic grammar. This is why I was able to now read through a lot of the dialogue without feeling off, but my head started hurting after a while when I got lost in a sea of Kanji. However, if this is me at two weeks, where will I be in three months? That to me is the really important question.
So I’m using Monster Hunter as a gauge for my reading comprehension on top of other stuff. The more I can play monster hunter, I’m assuming is the better I’m getting at vocabulary and grammar. I think it will be an interesting experiment and a nice way of tracking my abilities while I am actively studying. I am also looking forward to writing about my first month of active SRS study and my results. I am hoping to hit at least step 7 of Core2000 by the end of the month, which should put me at about 1500 sentences of reading ability.