Summary: if you play videogames and want to learn Russian, you’d be stupid NOT to start playing Russian video games 🙂 They’re great for your Russian, and are also a pleasure to play.
When I was younger, I played a lot of video games. Now I’m more busy, and feel it’s a waste of my time. There is one exception though…
Playing video games in Russian.
A quick overview why they can help a lot with your Russian:
- you hear correct Russian
- you can easily spend a lot of time playing them (and practicing your Russian)
- you can turn on subtitles and get both visual and audio cues (subs + sound in Russian). This helps a lot with understanding if you’re intermediate in Russian.
- they’re fun to play.
- you can finally play video games without guilt, since you’re being productive 😉
For me it was a combination of all of those, but maybe especially the last benefit.
Later in another article, I’ll elaborate more on these reasons, but for now let’s dive into some cool games you can play:
Witcher 2 and 3
These games are great. You play a monster hunting mutant, who roams wild lands. Cliche aside, the games quests, missions and gameplay are very good. And especially the 3rd installment looks beautiful as well.
The main benefit for you?
It’s a Polish game, so the atmosphere and people are also closer to Russians than to Western culture. And because the game has so many interesting missions, the dialogues really grab your attention. Everyone also speaks in a clear manner, so it’s great to practice your understanding of spoken Russian.
If you’re a beginner: play with English subtitles
If you’re more advanced: try with Russian subtitles.
Metro 2033, Metro Last Light and Metro Exodus
The beauty of these games lies in the fact that they’re all from a Russian gaming company. The plot is based on a best-selling Russian novel. In the book/games a new world war causes all countries to attack each other with nuclear missiles.
The only people surviving in this ruined world are the 40.000 people or so that took refuge in the Moscow Metro.
The games are breathtaking, and show you a complete different world. With mutants monsters and nuclear waste. But still in the familiar setting of Moscow and the Moscow metro.
If you’ve been to Moscow, it’s so cool to see places you’ve been to in real life, back in a game.
Just like with the Witcher series, the game is action packed and has a good story. And the dialogues are also very grabbing.
What I really like about these games is that they’re relatively short. If you have other things going on, you can immerse yourself in the game for an hour per day for 2 weeks. Without the open-ended slog that some other games on this list have.
S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Shadow of Chernobyl
This game is a little older. It’s about treasure hunters who go to Chernobyl to hunt for treasures in the radiative zone. Of course there are mutant monsters and other hunters there that they need to fight.
I didn’t think the game was as good as the Metro 2033 or Witcher series, but it still deserves a place here.
This is a weird game, that’s also from Russian origin. In a town, there is a strange plague going on, and you need to solve where it’s coming from. I haven’t played the game myself, so I’ll let the game speak for you:
Skyrim! If you like playing RPG’s, you’ve likely spent a lot of time playing this game. Again you play a hero fighting with monsters in an open ended landscape.
It’s an American game, but I found out not long ago that there are Russian patches. So if you’ve played this game before, you can play it again with Russian sound. That would also be a good practice for your Russian, since you already know the plot more or less.
P.S. If you want to improve your Russian on 'autopilot', my best recommendation is to just listen to 1 single Russianpod101 podcast per day (about 15 minutes). Ideally you do this when commuting to work to create a lasting habit. You can also take a daily walk. I did this for about 6 months, and it's the reason my Russian improved so quickly. There's a free 7 day trial with just an email address, so you're not risking anything. Give it a try and see how fast your Russian skills improve.