A lot of people use language exchange apps like HelloTalk to talk to Japanese people, but I prefer playing games and talking casually with Japanese people. It’s completely free, less awkward, and you don’t have to teach them English in return.
Find multiplayer games with an active player base
Go to openrec.tv and look at the most streamed multiplayer games. Dead by daylight, Apex Legends, Among Us, Splatoon 2. Monster Hunter is also pretty active on Twitter. Personally I have only played Apex and Splatoon 2 with other Japanese players but your interests may vary.
Create a Japanese Twitter account
This is super important. A new Japanese twitter account without a single latin character in your name, bio, and tweets. There’s no need to mention your location, your real name, or what you look like in real life. Make up a Japanese name. Don’t overthink this. Use a common anime name like あや or an everyday object. I know people named ラーメン or even 電子レンジ. Look at other Japanese gaming twitter accounts and copy them. Keep your bio simple so you make less mistakes. For example [Insert Game Here]友達を募集中です！
Ask to join a game
On Twitter, search for the tags that people are using to look for games. They usually include the keyword 募集. For Splatoon 2 it is simply リグマ募集. For other games it is often [Insert Game Here]@1 like エーペ @ 1
The number after @ stands for the number of players they are looking to play with. Look for posts with the keywords “FF 外” which means anyone can join. The opposite of that is “FF 内” which means only looking to play with people who have followed and are followers of their’s.
Keywords for VC: 通話Discord、通話あり、通話ディスコ
Keywords that mean NOT looking for VC: 通話なし、❌ 通話
Once you find a tweet, you can simply reply FF外から失礼します。参加したいです。
If you’re too shy to speak Japanese to strangers in the beginning, you can also ask 聞き専でも大丈夫ですか which means you will go into VC to listen to their conversation but mute yourself. I sometimes do this if I want to focus on playing the game while hearing other people speak.
After they’ve agreed, open your DMs and ask for their Discord server 鯖（サバ). There’s no need to create an extra jp Discord account since a lot of Japanese people has English discord names.
Follow Online Etiquette
Follow online Japanese etiquette. Introduce yourself by saying your fictional name followed with よろしくお願いします 。Try to imitate what other people are saying. It’s part of reading the air (← TBH I still don’t understand what this really means).
If they do find out that you’re a foreigner, be honest and say where you come from and would like to play with Japanese people. Some people will refuse to play with you after that, others are pretty happy talking to a person who is making an effort speak their language.
Write a short tweet to thank them for their games
Be ready to take screenshots while you’re playing so you can post it on Twitter later to thank them for the games. This usually makes it easier to become twitter friends with them so you can join their FF内 games!
Find more friends by writing an introduction card
To add friends who’re playing the same game, search for the tag #[Insert Game Here]自己紹介カード. Simply like the tweet (pressing on the heart icon) and if they find your profile interesting they will follow you back. You can also look for templates to create your own card!
Important: Please do not join VC if you don’t have a basic level of Japanese speaking ability. I’m talking at least N3 level. Not every Japanese person wants to play games with a foreigner and I don’t want to make it harder for everyone else to do so.