Fact: Over 50% of worldwide video game revenue comes from markets outside the US.
Despite the importance of making games available in a variety of languages for gamers across global markets, translation and localization is still a source of confusion for many developers. Due to the number of easily-avoided issues encountered by game translation and localization companies on a regular basis, we realized the value to the entire development community to dispel common myths regarding the localization process, thereby perpetuating a network of informed developers to ultimately enhance decisions regarding game translation, producing a global library of games with quality localization.
Part 1 taught you that switching localization vendors can have a negative impact on your company’s financial statement. Part 2 revealed the quality issues that distinguish one vendor from another, and part 3 showed you how to avoid paying threefold unnecessarily by effectively using prior work. In this post, we cover one of the most common mistakes made in video game translation and discuss how it, too, can have a significant impact on the quality of your game. Be sure to check back this Friday, November 16th, for Myth #5.
Myth #4: My friend/relative/significant other/guy down the street speaks (insert language), I’ll just have him/her translate my game.
Good plan, in theory. However, there is a reason translators spend years earning their qualifications, despite their fluency in more than one language. Due to the long hours spent training, preparing for their future careers, there is a significant difference in the quality of translation between a professional translator and a bilingual off the street.
If you were developing a massive RPG, you probably wouldn’t want novice writers creating the multiple, overarching storylines that define your game’s genre. You would want established writers who have a deep understanding of the intertwined web of fully-constructed characters, their complex relationships with one another and the rest of the world, plus the development of an incredibly intricate society, complete with new races and relevant languages, backstories for all aspects of the civilization (including origin) and the creation of different cultures, among a host of other complex components. There is a layer of depth that will likely be lacking in the hands of someone who has not spent years training and practicing their creative writing abilities under the supervision of highly experienced and studied mentors and, besides that, has no professional writing experience of which to speak. Just as a RPG with the depth of Skyrim cannot hope to achieve a similar immersive experience by writers with little to no experience writing on a similar scale, quality translations cannot be wished into existence by bilinguals who may not have a clear understanding of translation, creative writing, and/or game terminology. You wouldn’t want your original text to be written by someone without a thorough understanding of creative writing and video games, so why would your thought-process change when it comes to the translation of your game?
Professional translators have a thorough understanding of the intricacies of languages and what makes a quality translation. Translations cannot be sufficiently handled by machines because translation is not a straightforward process and there are multiple ways to translate even seemingly simple words. There are subtleties in meaning, idioms and words without direct equivalents, and the reinvention of character names, equipment, places, items, etc. that make game translation incredibly complex. While an unstudied translator may be able to handle certain pieces of your game, you don’t want to compromise the overall quality of your game by entrusting its complete iteration into another language to a novice translator. Remember – your game and company brand are at stake, and gamers know what they want when it comes to quality.
Read the full post on LAI's blog.
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