The chronicles of Burrito's bizarre adventure into Japanese.

RPG-o-thon: Revised; OR, Keepin’ It Simple and Fluid

with 2 comments

As I mentioned a few weeks back, I’ve begun a bombardment of text-heavy JRPGs, a process I intended to keep up through the year, with a rough goal of completing one game per month. Considering my love for RPGs (and desire to play them before the Second Coming of before Ragnarök before the many-month-long waiting period known as “localization”), this seemed like a damn fine path to go down for some hardcore immersion.

And it most certainly is! There are more quality JRPGs out there than I can count on both hands, and feet, combined. In my head, I had several of these lined up in a rough order in which I intend to play through them. The plan was something like this: I’d plow through them, one after another, soaking up loads of vocabulary and grammar, improving my reading speed dramatically and giving my grey matter the kick in the junk it needs to beat this language’s お尻. All is going according to plan.

Of course, it never really works out that way, especially if you’re 俺様. Khatz wrote an excellent article recently on New Years resolutions and big goals, in general, which outlines two of the more common models of goal-setters that so many people invariably fall victim to. Personally, I’m often of the “planner” variety – grandiose pipe dreams that start out successfully but almost always run out of fuel somewhere along the lines. Although I’ve gotten worlds better over the past couple of years at not tripping this frustrating trap, old habits die-hard and I still find myself thinking up the perfect, most fail-proof methods that will absolutely carry me over the finish line toward fluency, once and for all.

I quickly realized how ill-equipped my attention span, my state of mind in general was for a project more linear than Final Fantasy XIII, especially taking into account all the other bits of immersion media I had lying around, just begging to be devoured like so many scrumptious takoyaki. While I was definitely making progress in my current game (Lunar: Harmony of the Silver Star), I was distracted by other things, other JRPGs even, and would often neglect playing it for days at a time. Eventually, other games began to overtake Lunar in terms of hours played, which forced me to reconsider my plans a bit.

Rather than confine myself to a linear course of A to B, B to C, C to D and so on, I decided to simply let my craving be my guide and play whatever the heck I feel like at any given time. Fluid and constantly moving, thriving with life, like a fertile river stream, or something. Allow me to demonstrate.
As I have the artistic ability of a tortoise with Parkinson’s, I felt it necessary to subject you, dear readers, to a few more of my famed charts, in order to really drive my (stupidly simple) point across. After many grueling nights of labor in MS Paint, I’ve come up with the following diagrams. Signed, numbered editions are available for a short time only!

The original, failed plan. If only I had more fonts, perhaps it wouldn’t have ended this way.

A good idea in theory, and it may well have worked for anyone other than myself. I should also take into account that, although my love for Lunar games is undying and eternal, I was disappointed to discover how similar this game was to the Saturn/PSX remake I had played many times before, rather than being another “proper” remake. This led to boredom less than 20 hours in, and I think we all know how pesky “the B-word” can be toward the learning process. Indeed, boredom is a bitch.

The new plan just doesn’t really give a 糞 about such alien concepts as consistency – at least, not where video games are concerned. While it would be silly to ditch my daily kanji and sentence reviewing, for example, there’s really no harm in switching up between multiple games at a time; immersion is immersion, after all. Therefore, my new RPG-o-thon model looks a little something like this, give or take a belt or zipper.

One ill-forgotten line away from looking totally metal.

“But Burrito-sama,” you utter and prostrate before my lordly intellect, rolling on the floor and laughing most certainly not on your mind, “how did this brilliant epiphany come to you?” Yeah, yeah, I know. I amaze myself sometimes, too.

That is, I’m amazed that even now, I still often neglect to keep things fluid and dynamic, when this is probably one of the most effortless things you could possibly do in language immersion. Every possible tool I could ever need, right here before me at my disposal, and yet I still fall into the same old trap.

Not to veer too far off course, here, but a wise old Zen master once described enlightenment as such: “When hungry, eat. When tired, sleep.” One may think, “well, that’s what everyone does, isn’t it?” Alas, this often isn’t the case, as most of us somehow manage to make an incredible mess out of both of these crucial necessities in some way or another, even when we don’t intend to. For such a fundamental philosophy, the implications are quite profound when you really sit down and ponder it. In many ways, the same basic principles can be applied just the same to language learning: When feeling the inkling to fire up something light-hearted and text heavy, it’s Lunar time; when in more of a mood for action and taking the reading easier (yet requiring fast and precise comprehension when needed), there’s always Monster Hunter; and the examples go on.

This particular subject is another long post in itself, and quite likely beyond the scope of this blog (and my spectacular pinhead), but it never ceases to surprise me how quickly, how easily we complicate processes that were always incredibly straightforward and simple from the start. Processes such as language learning.

Now that I have a hearty selection of games to choose from, I find myself grazing here and there where the grass is greenest, as I often do without incident when indulging in dramas, anime, blogs, literature and so forth. It’s like I have access the world’s biggest (and hopefully sanitary) buffet with an all-you-can-eat ticket in my grubby little mitts – all I need is an appetite and I am set for a long, long time. Bon appetit!


Written by ritobito

February 1, 2010 at 12:49 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

2 Responses

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  1. Hehe, funny blog post and so true!

    I look forward to more blog posts from you ^^ The beautiful thing about logging is that you can reflect on yourself more frequently. You reflect on yourself in your head pretty much every second, so any ideas or corrections you have, you forget them pretty quickly. So it’s good to have it in writing :)

    Good luck and hope you have fun with your new method (?) :)


    February 1, 2010 at 2:24 pm

  2. Great post! I wish I was that into RPGs, I’m trying to do this with books and movies, it’s a little slow going though. I might try switching between multiple books at a time though, I hadn’t thought of that. It definitely would handle the boredom that sets in for a particular book after a while.


    February 1, 2010 at 11:44 pm

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