Changing the language of your favorite game is a great way to learn a new language or just play in your native tongue. How can you change the language of a PC game?
The easiest way to change the language of your PC games is to simply switch to a new language in the Windows language menu. You can also change languages in the Steam client or even change individual games in their own menus. There are also translation mods available if the language you’re looking for isn’t officially supported.
PC game translation is more popular than ever before and we’ve got some translation tips you should check out.
How Games Support Multiple Languages
You might think that changing a game’s language is an automated process, but there’s actually a lot of work that goes into it. You need a team of linguistic experts that are fluent in several languages in order to get the job done.
Here’s a quick overview of how games support multiple languages whether they’re big budget or a community effort.
AAA games have a lot of money behind them and that often means having localization teams.
The localization team will be fluent in both the language that the game is already in as well as the target language they’re looking to translate to. The localization team will be responsible for making sure that the game still makes sense after it’s been translated.
Localization is incredibly important because even minor differences between languages can take things from understandable to total nonsense and no time at all.
Indie games often have a lot less money. This means that they typically have more limited options when it comes to the languages that are available in.
It’s pretty common for a lot of indie games to only be available in one or two languages. This is typically English, as well as another language. This is especially the case if the game was made by a team that is fluent in multiple languages.
Translation and localization work is expensive and indie games often don’t have the budget for localization work.
Another way games get translated and localized is through modding.
Modders can change the language that a game is in by creating a custom mod for the game. This lets you switch to a language that the game can’t normally support.
Modding also allows people to correct a bad translation or fix UI elements that don’t work when rendered in a different language.
The Easiest Way to Change Your Game’s Language
This one easy way to change the language of your game that’s not going to take much time at all.
All you need to do is head to the region & language settings on your Windows PC and switch to the language that you want your games to be in. This should change most games over to the language you select.
For best effect, it’s worth changing two different settings: the region (or country), then the language:
- Expand the Start menu.
- Open Settings.
- Select Time & language.
- Open Region.
- Pick the Country or Region.
Next, click on “Language” and see if you can choose the right language for you under “Windows display language”. If the right language isn’t listed here, click on “Add a language” instead:
Click Next to choose that new language as your default in Windows.
Note: This is going to have some other effects that you should keep in mind. This is going to change more than just the language in your games. It’s going to change the system language which will affect most of the installed programs and apps.
Annoyingly, it also might not change the language of your game! Only some games are able to pick up on the system language and change accordingly. It all depends on how they were programmed. Bigger AAA games are more likely to pick up the Windows language than smaller indie games.
Don’t worry, we’ve got some more tips if you don’t want to go as far as changing the language for your entire PC.
Other Tips for Changing Your Game’s Language
If you don’t want to change the entire language of your PC, we’ve got some other options you should check out.
Change the Language in Steam
You can often change the language for individual games inside the Steam client itself (and you can use similar strategies to change the language in other game clients as well).
All you need to do is right click on the game you want to change and pick a new language in the properties menu:
- Open your Steam Library.
- Right click the game title and click Properties.
- Open the Language tab.
- Select your language.
- You might need to download new language files before the game can be played, although this often takes 1-2 minutes max.
Change the Language in The Game’s Menu
Another option you have for quick changes is just to select the new language inside of the game’s menu.
Games often ship with the ability for you to change the language inside of the game itself. This is a great choice if you’re playing a game that’s not on Steam, or you’d rather work with the game’s menu rather than Steam’s menu.
You’ll often find this and either the language or audio menu in the game settings. You might need to explore a little since there’s no standard place to put the language options, plus not all games will offer this as a specific setting (preferring to use Windows’ language settings instead).
Download a Translation Mod
What should you do if you can’t find an option to put the game in the language that you want?
Translation mods are popular ways for games to get localized into regions that are not officially supported by the development team. Translation mods exist for popular languages as well as more obscure ones.
You can find translation mods for most AAA titles as well as a bunch of Indie hits. If the game is a popular title, there’s a good chance that someone’s done a few translation mods for it. Oblivion is a good example of a popular modded game, and it has various language-related patches available:
Can Changing the Language Change Your Game?
Changing the language that your game normally runs in might have some surprising effects on your play experience.
Let’s take a look at a few of the most common ways that changing the language of your game changes how you play.
The speedrunning community is always looking for ways to cut in milliseconds off of the total play time for their runs. One of the easiest ways to quickly cut a few seconds off of a lengthy game is to switch the language to Japanese.
The Japanese language uses fewer characters than the English alphabet. This means that text boxes are smaller and you can scroll or click through dialogue much faster.
This might only save you a few seconds over an hour-long speedrun, but in the world of speed running, every second matters.
Changing the language that your game normally plays in can also have some graphic issues. These aren’t very common, but it’s still worth flagging up.
The text boxes and user interface for your game were probably designed for only a few languages. Changing the language of your game can create some awkward situations when text overflows a UI element or looks awkward and a text box.
There can also be cases where certain letters don’t render. If a game is using a bespoke font it might not have a character in place for letters using an umlaut or tilde.
Lore and Story Changes
Changing the language isn’t as simple as swapping one character for another or even one word for another. Each language has its own way of phrasing things that can change the lore and story of your game when you switch languages.
Changing the language of a game isn’t as simple as translating one word to another. Developers often have localization teams that work to make sure the game is translated fluently into the local language rather than a clumsy translation.
When you switch languages, it might cause some minor changes or it might even rewrite entire characters’ story arcs, depending on how the localization team approached this particular linguistic change.
No matter how you look at it, changing the language of a game is going to have some interesting impacts on how you play.