Video Game Localization: Aspects and Challenges

If you are not from this millennial generation, there is a high chance you have played video games in another language as well as with cultural elements different than yours.

Post preview video game localization aspects and challenges

Nowadays, though, the obstacles that might have emerged due to video game translation errors or cultural and linguistic barriers are solved, or at least handled, through video game localization.

What is game localisation?

Firstly, the localization process is not unique to digital games; any company that thinks about selling a product to the international market has to think about this. Hence, to a certain extent localization occurs as a consequence of the globalized and capitalist world. In the context of gaming, due to competition and new markets, game developers are compelled to have their products adapted to a particular location as well as possible. Still, in order for this to happen, it is necessary to keep in mind not only linguistic aspects but also intrinsic parts of culture that may affect the game itself.

For example, when considering shooting games, some countries allow blood (like the U.S.) while others do not (such as Germany). So, when making this type of game developers must think about these peculiarities, otherwise, they can potentially lose an entire market. In more practical terms, game localization assists in the sense that these issues are dealt with optimally and that, in the end, you have a product “customized” per se for a particular location. This not only makes the player identify more with the game but also facilitates its understanding as a whole.

Video game localization is not just translating

Although the translation is part of the localization process, it is not the only concern since it involves a cultural adaptation as well. Such perception is something that professional video game localization service must take into account, often by brainstorming ideas of how to go inside a video game as such. The idea of adaptation goes beyond simply translating from one language to another, as many people think.

In other words, in addition to language translation (text and voice), localization also includes content modification to meet the standards of that particular marketplace – regulations regarding violence, vulgar language, and sexual content, among other things.

Process of video game localisation

There are a few basic steps around the process of game localisation:

  • Translation Structuring: convert everything into a format which is easy for translators to work with;
  • Translations: text translation and voice-over translation;
  • Integration: integrate content into the game and;
  • Tests: double-check any functional or linguistic errors.

Essentially, the last part englobes the overall verification of errors but when thinking about functionality errors, it means all kinds of bugs that the localization process might have caused – like the “overflow” of text, for instance.

Alternatively, linguistic errors are those related to misspelled and grammatically incorrect text or improper reproduction of voice-overs, among others. In this case, it is really important to have a native speaker review the text since they will be able to spot translation errors much more easily.

Read also: Choose a trusted localization service for your software.

Video game language translators

In the gaming industry, each sector has sub-divisions in which several professionals are involved. As an example, within the sphere of localization, there are the translators, proofreaders, editors, functionality testers, linguists, art directors and even actors at times.

As a major competence, it is necessary that the localization professional is utterly comfortable with both the target language and the source language. Plus, he or she also need to understand about games, the terminology, its context of the game, and the general gaming culture. In addition, it is key to grasp the technical vocabulary, as well as have some literary skills to adapt characters according to a particular game theme.

We often think about localization as an aspect of translation but it is much broader than that and, particularly in the case of game localization, it involves techniques and a lot of visual languages, like symbols and character behavior. Moreover, it involves the adaptation of time zones, measuring units, currencies...

Ultimately, localization is an area that covers an array of professionals and where there is plenty of room in the market, all you have to do is explore.