As the Polyglot Conference looms ever-nearer, and my trip to Greenland even nearer than that (one month from today, actually!), it occurs to me that I had to thin my outline in order to make room for what is likely to be many, MANY questions from the audience
To that end, one thing I’d really like to write about is what sort of channels devoted to playing various games (and beyond) have provided me with significant entertainment.
Keep in mind that (1) these are based on the sample size of languages that I have had deep experience with (2) as a general rule, these tend to come from the developed world and (3) any channel that I am subscribed to is, in my opinion, 100% created by winners!
I’m not rating these based on how much these channels have helped me learn languages, I just want to express that (otherwise I would have to rate them completely differently under that metric).
You can for a list, and here it is!
- Streview (Israel)
Primarily focused on reviewing video games in Hebrew, this channel also serves to highly Israeli gaming culture as a whole (something that, for obvious reasons like being stuck in class during a lot of the day, I never got to experience in detail).
What’s more, Streview also shows a colloquial Hebrew that they don’t teach you in the Ulpan, one with enough English words to make your Hebrew school teachers cringe.
If you’re anywhere in the Gimel/Dalet level in the Ulpan or above (B1/B2), I highly recommend you get to experience this channel:
- Sami Hartikainen (Finland)
While Sami does tend to do some series on major commercial games, like Sonic Mania and Super Mario Maker, Sami also brings a significant amount of unpredictable Indie Games into the mix which makes his channel super-fun for me to turn to time and again.
His videos really helped me hone my Finnish-language accent as well as get regular exposure to the language’s more casual registers in a way that other sources, even TV and music, weren’t really doing.
Sami’s voice is also very theatrical as well but not overdramatic:
- TheGerald39 (Poland)
For some odd reason his voice sounds like that of a radio announcer coupled with that of a storyteller. Also, one thing you can use “Let’s Play” ‘s for is simultaneous translations (e.g. because a lot of games are localized in the world in English, especially outside of select Western European countries or the Americas or East Asia, a lot of people ad-lib translate all dialogue into their native language. It actually really helps to train you to think in your target language and it is supremely helpful).
The Gerald literally does this better than ANYONE I’ve ever seen, in ANY language. Even if you don’t speak a word of Polish or any other Slavic language, have yourself a listen:
- Lasse Vestegaard (Denmark)
Great production values, a great voice and a fantastic array of games and other side-video projects make this channel one of my favorites for Danish practice whenever I need it.
What’s more, the fact that he uses a lot of browser games in his Let’s Play videos is very refreshing (and I’ve discovered A LOT of very interesting programs because of him!)
Here’s an extremely interesting video in which Lasse tries his hand at an Airport Control Tower simulation. Does he have what it takes to become an air traffic controller in real life? Have a watch!
- Matboksen – Tommy & Marthe (Norway)
This channel has a very homegrown and genuine quality to it that other channels are significantly lacking. The Norwegian used on the channel is suitable for learners of all types and I’ve found many of the videos on this channel helpful for rehearsing my Norwegian regularly when I’m not up to watching heavy-duty TV or reading complicated articles.
What’s more, Tommy and Marthe tend to ad-lib translate the dialogues from the many games they play (esp. from the Zelda series) with just the right amount of personality.
Surprisingly I remember their ad-libbed Norwegian voice-overs more vividly than any actual dialogue from the games themselves!
- Domtendo (Germany)
The owner of a voice you never truly forget, Domtendo has proven to be such a success in the German-speaking world that he also expanded to narrating video game news. As you could guess, his channel does focus a lot more on Nintendo games and virtually every game I’ve seen him play has been localized into German as well.
My prediction is that Domtendo will hit 1 million subscribers in 2018, and for good reason: a lot of genuine reflection coupled with moments of “rage” and usage of the German language in its colloquial form as genuinely as it comes. Extremely helpful to many learners of German and highly recommended:
(Watch the final scene of this video for something extremely Schadenfreude-worthy):
I don’t really know what makes this channel so interesting for me at all, to be honest. I just know that I really like it.
Yn Chwarae (Welsh)
Donkey Kong Country in Welsh. Because why not.
Senkou Jimmy (Hungary)
The most smile-causing voice acting I’ve ever seen in Let’s Play videos, period.
And now the #1 slot goes to…
- ZetaSSJ (Chile)
While not particularly helpful from a language-learning standpoint, ZetaSSJ’s channel is my overall favorite gaming channel as of the time of writing.
He does focus a lot on Super Mario Maker, but he’s probably the best player of any Mario game I have EVER seen. And watching him play through levels on Super Expert (which, for those unaware, are collections of levels that have been failed nearly 99% of the time) provides more tension than the scariest horror films.
He also includes a lot of pop-culture phenomena in his videos, including editing soundbites from well-known internet memes onto the gameplay videos (Including the Titanic recorder piece and “Surprise, Motherfucker!” with significant regularity).
Watch this now. Even if you know absolutely nothing about Mario at all, or don’t speak Spanish or a related language, you won’t regret it in the slightest: