Since I’ve started learning Arabic I’ve been looking for video games to play in the language as a more interesting way to practice Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) also known as Modern Written Arabic, or simply “Fusha” (meaning “pure”) Arabic.
As far as I can tell the only stores where you can easily find the supported languages for each game on PC are Steam and GOG, which thankfully list them. Though you won’t find Arabic games with them, since their search functions don’t support it 🤦♂️. Other game distribution platforms for PC like the Epic Game store, Origin and UPlay do not seem to support Arabic or searching by language at all.
On game console it looks even more bleak. You’ll find it impossible to find out which languages are supported by the games at all, for example on Playstation 4, unless you buy the games. For mobile game the situation is very similar – the only option is to switch your entire phone’s language to Arabic.
Overall it’s been an immensely frustrating experience trying to find videos games to play in Arabic. What’s the reason for this?
My personal hypothesis is that it’s simply too hard for many developers to deal with right-to-left text in videogames and even on websites, mostly for technical reasons. It’s often an afterthought at best, and not being thought about at all seemingly in most cases.
I can definitely understand that not all games provide Arabic audio for dialogues and such. After all, there are dozens of spoken Arabic dialects, and no one actually speaks MSA. Also as a German I’m used to having to put up with terrible voice actors or having no German audio at all.
But I would have hoped that at least for written text game publishers invest a little bit into more than just the same old FIGS (French, Italian, German, Spanish) on top of English. Of course, in the last decades the big publishers started also offering more and more translations for “exotic” languages like Brazilian Portuguese, Russian, Chinese and Japanese, because they are large markets. However, somehow Arabic seems to be a huge blind spot, despite having nearly 600 million potential players in the Middle East and Northern Africa alone.
Anyway, right now it seems I’m limited to randomly stumbling over games that actually do support Arabic. Currently I’m still looking for a nice turn-based RPG like Final Fantasy that I can play. But at this point basically any kind of game will do – beggars can’t be choosers.
My first stroke of luck was “Horizon Zero Dawn” which had on my list for a while, since it’s generally considered an outstanding game. Imagine my surprise and bliss when I found out that the game actually allows you to switch the text language to Arabic! 🥳 Big thanks to the nice folks over at Guerrilla.
I hope I will find more gems such as this that I can play in Arabic. But so far my list is depressingly small.