How do native Japanese speakers recognize similar looking kanji on handheld game consoles?

It’s no secret that some Kanji do look very similar. With enough memorization, you’d be able to tell 牛 from 午 or 水 from 氷 on a large screen, but what if you’re playing a video game on, say, the DS, GBA or PSP?

These screens are just so tiny that it’s hard to make out the fine details. So what I want to know is, how do Japanese gamers do it? Are they so fluent in Japanese that they just know? Or do they just have to look at it, say “hm this could be one of these kanji” and then figure out what it is based on the context of the sentence? But what if both words would fit given the context?

It’s a problem that the translation team of a particular Chibi Robo game on the DS ran into, because sometimes, they just couldn’t agree on what kanji the screen was displaying. And it’s definitely a problem that I’ve run into as I play games on these older consoles. So I’m wondering, is this just a problem that people less familiar with the language like myself run into, or do Japanese gamers also encounter this problem?


Both of those. You just kinda know the shape of it, and context fills in the rest. Usually you don’t even realize you’re reading something that would otherwise be unreadable.

There was an interesting survey it took awhile back about kanji recognition, where it had certain kanji pixelated in words and asked you what they were. Felt super easy and was wondering what the point was after a few goes, since any literate person would have had 0 problem with them. Turned out different kanji were blurred into being the same exact image, and the point was how the shape is more of a starting point and it kinda ends up looking like what we expect to see. So despite being the same exact image, my brain thought they looked different based on context, basically.


Probably lots to do with context and familiar kanji that come up in games I’d guess…


It’s the same reason you can read weird and messed up catchas, blurred words, mispelled words, etc.




It happens to the best of us

wait misspelled takes TWO s ?

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And me.


You could read it, couldn’t you?


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