Getting Started as a Freelance Translator in Game Localization

If you’re fluent in more than one language and have a passion for gaming, you may have a bright future as a game translator.

Post preview getting started as a freelance translator in game localization

After all, any time a web based game, PC game, or console is sold in a foreign market, a video game language translator must ensure it is ready for new audiences.

If you’re fluent in more than one language and have a passion for gaming, you may have a bright future as a game translator. After all, any time a web based game, PC game, or console is sold in a foreign market, a video game language translator must ensure it is ready for new audiences.

This includes translating the game content into new languages. In addition to video game translation, there’s also something relatively new to consider. That’s game localization. If you’re interested in picking up freelance translation jobs, here are some tips for getting started.

Assess Your Skills

Localization is essentially a form of transcreation where you ensure that translated content has meaning for audiences in new locations. Modern games are full of historical and pop cultural references. Many use slang and other types of idiomatic speech. Simply translating them is not enough, because that doesn’t guarantee the game will be relevant enough to the new audience to be fun and engaging. It’s also important to avoid including elements that could be offensive. Here are the skills you need to do that:

  • Language fluency including dialects

  • Creativity and insight

  • A passion for video gaming

  • Cultural understanding

  • An understanding of the game design process

The last one is important as there are many cases when the video game localization and translation process begins while the initial game is being designed.

Understanding The Job

The job of a game localization freelancer can vary. You may be localizing in-game dialogue and other content. You may be localizing supplemental and instructional materials. A localization professional may work directly with a design team helping with character and script development, and testing out localization efforts. That’s interesting work.

On the other hand, there will be times when the work is much like any other translation work. You’ll receive documents, the languages and countries involved, and instructions from the customer. Then, you’ll simply translate and localize based on that.

Finally, remember that not all game localization involves translation. For example, if an American game production studio plans on marketing their game in a country where most people speak English, they might opt to localize the content to make it meaningful to local audiences, but skip the translation process.

Getting a Foot in The Door

There are several ways to get started as a translator of games. One option is to get on with a smaller game developer as a localization tester. Many choose to simply enter the field of translation, and then include game localization as one of their specialties. If you are fluent in a couple of languages, this may be your best option. This guarantees you will have access to more work as well. If game localization jobs in your languages are in low demand, you can supplement by working on other translation projects.

Most importantly, don’t lose your passion for gaming. Game developers are drawn to freelancers who understand the industry, and love gaming. Stay on top of things, and make a name in the community. Volunteer your services for open source gaming projects. Read and write for gaming publications. Participate in online gaming and become active in gaming, community forums.

Conclusion

Imagine working in a field you love. If you have language skills, an understanding of gaming, and the ability to make content relevant to new audiences, this may be a career for you.

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