Staying on Top of the Game

There’s no denying that video games have become an integral part of millennial life. This is probably because they allow the gamer to lead an alternate life full of adventure and challenges. Gaming is a truly global industry today- a $60 billion one.

In 2010, a video game distributor in Brazil revealed that a game localized into Portuguese multiplied its sales 15 times! This underlines the importance of video game localization and the need for quality translation and localization.

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Despite the importance of game localization, companies make the mistake of opting for shoddy shortcuts, which are costly to repair, bring bad publicity, and hurt sales.

What are the localization mistakes that gaming companies make?


#1. Cutting corners on translation

Many video game companies think they have saved a buck by searching for machine translations or considering the cheapest translation option rather than the best.

Machines are a world away from producing the accuracy needed. Translation tools can also be a security threat by providing access to video game content to hackers via the Internet.

Also, anything typed in for translation is handed over to the translation tool provider: it becomes their data, and they can do anything they want to with it.
Translation needs to be accurate and retain the flavor and nuances of the original to breathe life into the translated version.

Mistranslation can make the game a frustrating experience for the player or make the game developer a laughing stock of the gaming world; in the worst-case scenario, it can land the developer into a legal soup.

Cutting corners on translation adds to the work and the expense. The sensible thing would be to use professional translation services wthatare not just competent and creative but discreet. Making the translation agency sign a non-disclosure agreement can help the game developer relax while the localization is in expert hands.

#2. Hard coding text into core files

This is something that video game developers with limited vision do. It is a mistake to embed text elements like the menu text, the game‘s title, and on-screen, printed dialogue into core game files. Suppose the text is stored in a separate resource file. In that case, it will be easy to incorporate a translated version by adding a new variable and providing the translation in a separate dedicated file. Is it much easier than digging through source code while cracking?

#3. Painting all game text with the same brush

Some games involve specialized terminology. Take sports games; football terminology is not the same as basketball-tall talk. Translators and localizers for such games need to do some research. The need here is for “research-oriented text.”

Games like the popular and addictive Candy Crush develop new gaming concepts. Such games are slotted as needing “creative-oriented text.”

Game developers should analyze their game content and decide which text category is suitable. The text should be tailor-made to the content, and the translator’s portfolio should match this need.

#4. Out-of-context game localization

Surely, there is little to be gained by handing over reams of text to translators and localizers who know little about the game or its content. Worse still, he is expecting someone without any idea about gaming to handle the job!

When game localization is important, the more the translator knows about the game, the better the outcome. Translators should be encouraged to play the game being developed. Discretion and security are non-negotiable requirements, of course.

#5. Ignoring Cultural Factors

Each market is steeped in its own culture. Cultural sensitivity is necessary while localizing a game, or the developer will risk alienating target audiences. This isn’t just about game content like the story, characters, situations, and events.

Consider the following:

A gaming giant had to recall 75,000 copies of a video game that used the Quran’s chanting in its soundtrack after a user objected.
The depiction of Japanese armies invading South Korea may be a slice of history; nevertheless, Seoul was offended by a game that showed just that.

Localization misdemeanors can range from showing alcohol to displaying blood and gore on screen. While localizing, video game developers will do themselves a favor by doing a thorough recce of the target market. Cultural gaffes are not to be taken lightly, and the adverse publicity surrounding them can kill the game if not the developing company.

#6. Failing to test game translations

The proof of the pudding is in the eating!
Translation does tend to change the length of the sentence. Translated strings may not fit the graphics or the elements of the user interface. Coding may also leave some lines missing. All this can be avoided if developers test-drive their games on an actual device.

On-device localization testing can let you assess the overall quality of game localization while identifying the glitches simultaneously. If the game has on-screen printed dialogue, autofitting the text to fit the text space is necessary.

#7. Poor management of translation content

Game developers must organize all the different formats and files – marketing copy, manual, packaging, app store descriptions, in-game interface text, and subtitles. The management of translations must be centralized to avoid mistranslations and duplications across the various types of content.

#8. Treating localization as an afterthought

Thinking of localization as the last step in the development cycle is a costly mistake many game developers make and miss great overseas opportunities. When copycat versions arrive in the local market, such companies find they have painted themselves in a corner. It is only then that they think of finding fresh markets overseas. Localization at this “end” stage means reworking source code and building up translation materials from scratch, all of which cost time and money.

About author

I work for WideInfo and I love writing on my blog every day with huge new information to help my readers. Fashion is my hobby and eating food is my life. Social Media is my blood to connect my family and friends.
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