World of Warcraft. The most famous MMORPG the world has ever known. It’s played by over 10 million people in roughly a dozen languages. Wouldn’t it be great if one of those languages was Japanese?
Just imagine logging in to check your Garrison missions, greeting your guildmates with a warm 「こんにちはー」, and getting an enthusiastic flurry of responses in Japanese. A short time later, you see in guild chat that they need one more for a dungeon -「Auchindounをします。＠１DPS。誰か行きませんか？」- so you quickly fire off an 「行きます！」and join the group. The run begins with 「よろしくー」and ends with 「おつかれさま」. Then it’s time to log off, so you send your guild a quick 「いったん落ちます」and see a few responses of 「おつです」just before you exit the game.
Pretty wild, right? To think that all those hours you spend playing WoW could also count as immersion, if only there was a Japanese version of the game and a Japanese-speaking community to play with. While there’s no telling if or when WoW will see an official Japanese release, it turns out that hasn’t stopped players in Japan from finding their own way.
In this article, I’m going to explain how they do it. I’ll show you how to add Japanese tooltips for almost everything in the game, as well as how to set up your client to support Japanese input for communicating with other players. In the next article, I’ll talk about WoW’s thriving Japanese language community and my own experience joining and playing in a Japanese guild.
Add Japanese Tooltips with WoWJapanizer – (Recommended Level: Any)
To help Japanese speakers get into WoW, a player by the name of Milai developed a wonderful addon called WoWJapanizer. This addon allows you to view Japanese translations of most quest and tooltip text in the game. This includes items, achievements, spells, and much more. The text is translated by volunteers, though new content may briefly rely on machine-translation until it can be updated.
This one’s pretty easy to get up and running. Start by downloading the addon here, then unzip it and place it in your World of Warcraft/Interface/Addons directory as you would any other addon. Next time you fire up the game, it should simply work without any additional fuss.
While this tool is primarily meant to make WoW accessible for native speakers, Milai is currently working on a “furigana mode” to help make the addon more useful for learners.
Setting up WoW to allow Japanese Input – (Recommended Level: 10+)
Most Blizzard games, as well as the Battle.Net app, allow you to use Japanese input without any special setup requirements. Unfortunately when it comes to WoW things aren’t so simple, so you’ll need to follow some additional steps to get it working.
Step 1: Fonts
You’ll need to change your fonts to display Japanese characters in-game. You can download suitable fonts here.
Unzip the newly downloaded Fonts folder, and then place it in your main World of Warcraft directory.
Please note that this WILL change the font used by various text within the game, but you can undo this change at any time by simply deleting the Fonts folder. The game will then restore its default fonts.
Step 2: System Locale
Even with a proper font, WoW only supports JP input if your System Locale is set to Japanese. You can find info on how to change it in Windows 7 here. This setting is separate from your Operating System language, so you shouldn’t notice any practical impact on your day-to-day activities. If you do encounter problems, simply follow the same process to restore your previous locale setting.
WoW doesn’t support Copy for in-game chat by default, which can make it hard to look up unknown words while chatting. You may want to install an addon (such as EasyCopy) to help with this.
Having trouble identifying tiny kanji? Try right-clicking on the title bar of your chat panel and changing your font size to something a bit larger in the settings menu.
Want to log your in-game chat for study purposes? You can use the /chatlog command to log chat on a per-session basis, or get an addon to handle it. Logs will output to your World of Warcraft/Logs folder.
So how about it? Does this make your quest text a little more interesting?
Excited to try chatting with other players in Japanese? Stay tuned for the next installment, where I’ll tell you all about doing just that.
Video game designer and lover of JRPGs.