video game localization

What is video game localization?

The gaming industry is a fast-growing business that affects billions of people around the world. With the ongoing pandemic and the continuous lockdowns, revenue for the gaming market has skyrocketed to almost $160 billion last year, 2020. Mobile gaming accounted for a large part of the 2020 projected revenue and it has increased by a staggering 13.3% since 2019. Aside from mobile games, tech companies have also been striving to release top quality consoles such as the newly introduced Play Station 5. What does translation have to do with the gaming industry? Everything.


Why do people play video games?

One main reason of why people play video games is because of novelty. Humans have the tendency to look for something new, exciting, and fresh in their lives. Online games have the thrill of playing with and against other people, of winning, and of leveling up. Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) games such as League of Legends and Valorant can facilitate a role-playing environment that has become popular over the years. Moreover, it is rewarding to gain competence and mastery of anything and yes, video games do have that effect as well. Sportsmanship and friendship are significant life values that can be gained from the gaming experience as well. Additionally, there are plenty of video games that have been proven to reduce stress and induce relaxation.

Video game localization and translation

The rewards of the gaming business can be overwhelming, but it is a competitive market with thousands of companies developing and improving video games. With the potential to globalize, companies would greatly benefit from translation services. According to research, people are more likely to enjoy and purpose a video game if they encounter it in their native languages. To gain prominence and edge in the game market, video game localization aims to establish trust, boost rankings, and increase sales. With translation, a gaming company can accomplish the following:

  1. Higher ratings: the more players a game has, the higher the ranking it can obtain. Lack of translation may cause decreased ratings and negative feedback. Positive ratings translate into more downloads which is then converted to revenue.
  2. Global market potential: a localized video game can break down social barriers among users. Companies are likely to respond with praising reviews.
  3. Gamers’ comfort: the translator serves as the middleman between the developers and the gamers.
  4. Increased downloads: game applications generate revenue through the number of downloads they gain. The larger the market, the greater the chances of getting downloads.
  5. Faster translation:  Games are launched fast, and it puts the company ease from the rush of multilingual translation.
  6. Game and Culture fusion: translator can adapt the video game to the country’ culture. The games become more meaningful and unforgettable for the users.

Challenges of video game translation

While people enjoy the luxury of playing video games, translators strive to make it a pleasant experience for them. Little do they know that the job entails a lot of challenges to overcome. Translators have to keep the translations short, coherent, and concise. Sentence constructions, languages, styles, and tones matter a great deal as they immensely contribute to the user experience. Certain words and pronunciations can produce various results. It is the translator’s responsibility to ensure that the dialogues are culturally aligned with the country’s culture. Slang words are beneficial, but they must be used with caution as it might set off the wrong impression if used incorrectly.

Gaming translators are not always required to be objective in their translations. They can be creative in the language that they use but they would also have to balance it with the technicalities of the video game. Moreover, companies would prefer local translators with interest for gaming. The gamer-translator’s edge I that he has a deeper understand and enthusiasm for the craft. Testing the game translation would also allow the stakeholders to know what can be improved. Simply put, translators play an essential role in the growth of the gaming industry.

Best practices for video game translators

Translators must keep a close eye on the possible rooms for error within the video game. The earlier they spot the loopholes, the faster the final process will be. Computer Assisted Translation or CAT tools are important in storing proper words and terms, easing the difficulties of translation, and syncing information from one document to another. It also helps if the translator educates himself about the culture and politics of the country and check if there is an audience to market the video game.

Video game translation also entails the involvement of the gaming company. They must aid the translator by providing them with context about certain areas of the game. This would greatly benefit them as it saves time, energy, and costs. With effective collaborations between developers and the translator, the value and appeal of the video game will be increased. Therefore, both parties must be open to communication about improvements, errors, and suggestions. A successful video game is something that has been conceived by the minds of the developers and amplified by the skills of the translator.


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