Translation of video games is a multi-stage process that involves not only linguists, but also experts from other fields: graphics, programming or culture of a relevant region. A proper linguistic and cultural localization of a game may be one of the determinants of its success on markets other than the domestic one.
Ask a game developer, designer, gamer or just anyone from the gaming industry and they will tell you that you could create awesome game plots with state-of-the-art graphics, but it’s always about the experience. If each player does not have an enjoyable experience, the game is bound for failure. With players and new games gaining a global audience each day, the importance of game localization is becoming vital in engaging users across geographies.
The translation of video games is a multi-stage process. It should be borne in mind that it includes not only translation of a game itself, but also all the marketing materials (website, posters and graphics promoting the game) or technical materials (specifications, manuals). Moreover, a game itself can also be divided into several elements: storyline (dialogs, narration), UI (user interface, i.e. what a player sees on the screen), subtitles, comments or live online support. In addition, there is, of course, also the technical background, i.e. the code, in which the game is written.
So, to answer the question above — is the translation of video games a sufficient process? No, it’s not.
Localization helps in situations where translation is not a sufficient process. Linguistic and cultural localization means adapting the material to a new language, cultural background, customs, traditions or beliefs. Thanks to the localization, a player can fully feel the “atmosphere” of a video game.
So, the localization includes such elements as:
- narration and dialogs, which are not only translated into the target language, but also adapted thereto (e.g. references to the popular culture or customs present in a given region, adaptation of jokes/puns, slang, dialects);
- user interface: it often contains abbreviations, and a specialist localizing them takes into account not only the specificity of a language but also the culture and community of players;
- code: assuring that all the diacritics are displayed appropriately, adjusting the code to local requirements;
- units of measure, currencies, date format — adapted to a given region;
- transliteration — in languages using a different alphabet. Whether the game authors decide to translate proper names or not, they should always be written in a local alphabet, so that a player has no problems with reading the tips and instructions;
- keywords — they can also be localized in order to optimize them for search engines or digital distribution platforms, such as Google Play or the App Store.
Localization is supposed to provide players with complete satisfaction of the experience a game offers them. If the cultures of the author and players are distant, it is important that the elements of the storyline do not seem completely unreal or making the game difficult to complete — e.g. cars moving on the wrong side of the road, payment in foreign currency, notation of proper names in an incomprehensible alphabet. Smooth gameplay has an impact on the overall reception of a game by users. Localization takes into account not only the language preferences of a recipient, but also the realities of a culture in which he or she was raised.
Localization of games often requires not only translation, but also additional services, such as multilingual subtitling (creating, synchronizing and adding subtitles), voice-over, DTP or localization of software, flash applications, animations or DTP. Therefore, in order to fully translate a game into a foreign language, it is advisable to contact an experienced language services provider.
Get in Touch
Contact us now to get started with video game localization at Summa Linguae Technologies.