The 12 Best Games to Learn German and Level Up Your Language Skills
Want to learn German while hunting for hidden treasure? Or slaying zombies? Or winning the World Cup?
Unless you lead an extremely exciting life, that probably sounds a bit crazy. But it’s possible—virtually, anyway.
With some fun video games and a little know-how, you can learn German while doing all of the above.
You’ll get to practice your German listening and reading skills, and with certain games, even speaking.
So get ready to harness the power of some of the best video games to learn German?
- Finding German Games on Steam
- “FIFA 23”
- “Tomb Raider”
- “The Walking Dead”
- “The Sims 4”
- “Borderlands 3”
- “Final Fantasy XIV Online”
- “Crosswords Arena”
- “Suche nur ein Weilchen” (“Search for Only a Little While”)
- “Geocaching in der Galaxie” (“Geocaching in the Galaxy”)
- And One More Thing...
Finding German Games on Steam
Steam is a well-known online game vendor offering many titles. They often hold summer and winter sales, so buying games can be affordable if you’re willing to wait a bit.
They’re also a great place to find Triple A games (games that have the highest budgets in the industry), which often feature extra language options. You can see some German-language games in the Steam store through this link.
Some titles won’t have German audio, but the subtitles will be in German. These subtitles can still act as a study aid, giving you the chance to observe how the translator tackled changing English to German.
To set your games to German, you’ll need to right-click the game’s title in your Steam library, click “Properties,” then go to the “Language” tab and set it to Deutsch (German).
Platform: PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S
The FIFA games are extremely popular around the world. They give players the chance to take a soccer team right to the top of the league! You’ll get to create a team out of real-life famous soccer players, and will then have to face some pretty tough opponents to make it to the top.
You don’t need to buy a special German version of this game; you can simply switch the language in the settings menu. The game supports German voice acting, which means you’ll hear a lot of sports-related phrases and vocabulary from the commentators. If you find yourself having trouble following the German audio, you can always turn on the subtitles.
When you’re creating your soccer team, you’ll also read a lot of German in the various in-game menus.
Platform: PC, PS3, PS4, Stadia, Xbox 360, Xbox One
“Tomb Raider” came out in 2013, and it isn’t the latest in the series, but it’s where you should start if you’ve never played the games before.
Re-imagined and revitalized by writer Rhianna Pratchett, this rendition has our plucky young heroine Lara Croft going on an adventure on a fictional island off the coast of Japan. As Lara, you’ll climb, zipline, find treasures among ruins and try to survive—all while trying to uncover the mysteries of the island’s past.
The game has German functionality, including full German voice acting. There’s a lot of lore to uncover, so you may need to take breaks along with Lara and go over everything you’ve learned so far.
“The Walking Dead”
Platform: Mobile (Android, iOS, Kindle Fire), PC, PS3, PS4, PS Vita, Switch, Xbox 360, Xbox One
“The Walking Dead” is more like an interactive visual novel than a traditional game. That means this is a very dialogue-heavy option, and every decision you make will affect the story—so this one isn’t for the faint of heart (or beginners). The story takes place in the universe of the TV show and comic, but it follows a new cast of characters.
Note that this game is episodic, which means you’ll need to buy all the episodes to get the entire story. On the other hand, each episode takes only a few hours to complete, which makes it easier to chunk your learning to fit into your schedule.
If you enjoy this type of game and can keep up with the German, developer Telltale Games has a whole catalogue of similar games to choose from, including “The Wolf Among Us,” “Batman,” “Tales from the Borderlands” and more!
“The Sims 4”
Platform: PC, PS4, Xbox One
If you’re looking to improve your everyday German or your German reading comprehension, just spend some time playing “The Sims.” Even though the characters speak a fictional language called Simlish to one another, if you switch the game’s language to German, you’ll find that all the text turns to German.
Beginners will find that playing “The Sims” in German is a good introduction to gaming in another language, as the game isn’t so focused on dialogue or a strict narrative. It also puts the language into contexts you’ll recognize and encounter from everyday life. To switch your game to German language, follow the guide on EA’s page. Best of all, this edition of the game is free!
Platform: PC, PS3, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S/X
For a game with full German support, “Skyrim” is a great option. It’s a vast open-world game (taking anywhere from 30 to 230 hours to complete!) and has tons of quests to do and locations to explore. There are many NPCs (non-playable characters) to talk to, each with multiple dialogue options. If you’re a fan of Western RPGs, it’s worth playing for the visuals and story alone.
The game’s dialogue is fully voiced, so you can practice both listening and reading. Most NPCs talk in a respectful way, using Ihr (an antiquated, formal way to say “you”) and Sie (“you,” formal). In a way, it’s good listening practice for more professional-level speech, as opposed to the more familiar talk you might hear in dubbed cartoons.
Plus, characters sometimes repeat the same few lines so you can become familiar with them over the hours of gameplay—this is where the famous memed quote comes from: “Früher war ich auch ein Abenteurer und dann habe ich einen pfeil ins knie becommen.” (I used to be an adventurer like you, but then I took an arrow in the knee.)
Items and weapons come with written descriptions, each imparting bits of world-building and lore. In addition to helping you pick up the occasional useful noun—Pilz (mushroom), for example—these texts are good reading practice.
Platform: iOS, PC, PS3, PS4, Switch, Xbox 360, Xbox One
The “BioShock” series of games is story-driven, making it better for more intermediate learners. Enter the world of Rapture, an underwater paradise gone sour, and use guns and questionable performance-enhancing drugs to fight against crazy splicers, mad scientists and the occasional terrifying Big Daddy.
The audio and captions are synced up so that you can rely on both to help you figure out the meaning of what’s being said. Most characters speak in a familiar way, either being chummy or just plain antagonistic, so you’ll be able to see and hear contractions and slang.
“BioShock” is a classic FPS and is wonderfully atmospheric. Even if you’re not a fan of the genre, you may still want to give it a try.
Platform: PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S
This is another FPS that features a compelling narrative, but is more driven by on-screen action. Although it’s the third game in the series, “Borderlands 3” is a good place to start if you’re unfamiliar with the series since it features a new story arc and a new cast of characters. Join Zane, FL4K, Amara and Moze as they travel through the borderlands of the planet Pandora, looking for loot and powerful guns while trying to take down a cult led by the powerful social influencer twins, Troy and Tyreen. (Too real!)
The game has German audio as well as German text overlays. The German dub features full voice acting, giving you the chance to hear some pretty common language, considering the oddly prescient topic. Every character responds to conversations differently and says different things when interacting with the world, so you can keep learning by playing through the game with different characters.
Plus, there’s a multiplayer option so you and your Kumpel (buddies) can battle things out together!
Platform: PC, iOS, PS4, Switch, Xbox One
“Deponia” was created by Daedalic Entertainment, a German game development company that’s been dubbed the “Lucasarts from Germany.” That’s a pretty prestigious name to live up to!
This point-and-click adventure game follows Rufus, who lives in the bottom rungs of a futuristic society. When a woman from higher society literally falls off the rich floating islands into Rufus’ trash heap of a home, he hatches an insane plan to escape from his miserable life in the slums.
“Deponia” features full German voice acting but, more importantly, it’s based around puzzles and has lots of text. Not only will this force you to read and think in German, but it’s also great for picking up nouns and verbs.
To top things off, the game’s writing is stellar and very funny. Here’s a taste of the game’s sense of humor: In one of the early scenes, Rufus tries to grab a toothbrush, only to see it scurry off. He deadpans, “Die Zahnbürste ist weggelaufen.” (“The toothbrush has run away.”) In that one sentence, you get a useful everyday vocabulary word and practice with using sein (to be) for movement-based verbs in the past.
Not bad for a silly joke!
“Final Fantasy XIV Online”
Platform: PC, PS3, PS4, PS5
This entry into the Final Fantasy series stands apart from the main games: It’s an MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game). This means that you can join other players online and communicate with German speakers “in the wild” as you play through the vast story and its expansions. To do so, join one of the game’s EU servers, where some of the players are German. As of this writing, Shiva is the unofficial German server.
You’ll get real-life German conversation practice as you explore the world and communicate with other players or collaborate to defeat big bosses. Chatting to other gamers online is an incredibly fun, engaging way to hone your German speaking skills with native speakers.
Of course, if you haven’t chatted a lot with native German speakers before, you’re bound to run into a lot of unfamiliar slang and chat acronyms. You can prep for your online gaming sesh by using FluentU before you boot up the game.
FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
Platform: Web browser
Here’s a fun twist on vocabulary practice! This game is similar to Scrabble, only with German words. It offers German support and can be played as a multiplayer game directly on your browser.
If the idea of playing a word game against a native speaker strikes fear in your heart, don’t worry: The game offers modes where you can play against the computer, featuring simulated opponents like Shakespeare, Ma rk Twain, Elvis and a few other fun options. There’s even a leicht (easy) setting for beginners, although you’ll still need a fairly robust vocabulary to piece together German words from the jumbled letters.
“Suche nur ein Weilchen” (“Search for Only a Little While”)
Platform: Web browser
If you enjoy visual novels, or just getting swept up in prose, then you’ll likely enjoy interactive fiction, or games where you participate in the story as it unfolds. “Suche nur ein Weilchen” is a scavenger hunt game with puzzle elements.
It requires text input, so you’ll practice reading and responding to written German. For example, you might have to type rechts (right) to navigate.
Luckily, the game features a “Mentor” who’ll help you out if you get stuck. It also includes a guide on how interactive fiction works in general, which is helpful for newbies to the genre.
“Geocaching in der Galaxie” (“Geocaching in the Galaxy”)
Platform: Web browser
If you’ve never geocached before, it’s a scavenger hunt-type game involving GPS coordinates. Geocaching is usually an in-person game, but this is a computer game built around the idea.
It’s a beginner-friendly game since you don’t need to input any of the text yourself. All you’ll need to do is click around, choosing between different linked options. There are lots of pictures to help you understand the context, as well.
So, there you have it—gaming can be productive! If you think carefully about your choice of game, you might be surprised by how much it can help improve your German. Once you become more fluent, you’ll find that it can even help you develop your gaming skills.
What are you waiting for? Time to switch on your console and get to work on your German!
And One More Thing...
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