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MMOs are an incredibly popular way to pass the time. Why not learn a language while you're doing so? This article outlines how to learn and practice German by playing some German language MMOs.
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What Is an MMO?
The world of MMOs is a large one, so here's a quick primer. MMO, or MMOG, stands for Massively Multiplayer Online Game. Tens, hundreds, even thousands of players all play at once, all connected via the Internet to each other and to the same dynamic world. Depending on the MMO, they can explore, fight, buy and sell products—all is left to the considerable imagination of everyday Internet users.
The variety of genres is immense, spanning everything imaginable, from fairy-happy fantasy to dark sci-fi dystopias, and can accommodate a wide variety of playing styles, from independent soloists to social butterflies. There's an MMO out there for everyone and anyone.
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Learning German Through Gameplay
Learning the nitty-gritty mechanics of a language is, for many people, the most difficult part of a language--actually sitting down with those repetitive grammar and verb exercises and just pounding through them. Keep in mind that MMOs are not a way to replace this sort of learning: MMOs provide an immersive environment in which one can casually learn vocabulary and some conversational language.
The first big thing about learning German through MMOs is simply navigating the menus and command systems. They will all be in a foreign language, and while they might seem familiar, you might not be able to easily translate their exact meaning. Misunderstanding the very game play provides a very frustrating hurdle. However, once you've got the basic vocabulary of German MMOs out of the way, you've got not only some words under your belt that probably aren't taught in most textbooks, but a very everyday feel for their use.
The other thing about MMOs that can help with learning German is the immersive environment with other users. While, yes, many players just resort to a variety of Denglish or even English itself, with a little care to which MMO you choose, you can find yourself in a real, genuine immersive environment for German from the safety of your own desk. Social interaction with natives within the game play of the MMO will help work on your conversational and slang skills, both very important parts of learning any language.
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German Made MMOs...
While most MMOs are first and foremost English creations, there are a few German-made MMOs out there to check out.
A good example of this is Metin2. While it has English support as well due to its popularity, many Germans still play Metin2, with plans to continue moving into the English MMO market, and it's hard to play for too long without running into some good Deutsch—or at the very least, Denglish—with other players.
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...and MMOs Made German
Of course, there still aren't that many purely German MMOs out there. Another option is to simply set the MMO, otherwise in English or some other more-or-less standard language, to German support. You'll still get the influx of new vocabulary words, if not necessarily the German interaction with other players. Also, even many non-German MMOs have a considerable regiment of German players, who will often form their own communities and speak German within the game.
Rappelz is a good example of this. While it was originally English, it also offers German support (and a corresponding German community) with which anyone can practice their language skills while playing in this dark fantasy MMO.
Cabal is another MMO auf Deutsch. The vast majority of its users are, in fact, German. Cabal also provides English support for those so inclined, but expect plenty of German.
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Forum Environments and Beyond
German players will often form their own forum communities outside of the MMO itself with the premise of discussing the MMO—but often going off into discussing very everyday things. It's a wonderful opportunity to interact with your fellow gamers in their native language, connected by the MMO, and work on your language skills.
Graal in particular has a remarkably strong German community, with its very own forum board. It's quite common to see a bit of English seeping into many forums, but this one manages to attract more proper German speakers.