About Karin E. Skoog

Karin holds a M.B.A. in International Management, a B.A. in Comparative Literature...as well as a game design diploma! Karin freelances as a marketing specialist with Language Automation, Inc. (LAI) and spends most of her days developing games. You can follow her @KarinESkoog and learn more about LAI's localization and publishing activities @LAIGlobalGame.

Which Languages Should I Localize my Game to? – Here’s an Easy Step Guide!

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Congratulations! – You made a game (or are nearly done making your game)!

Now what?!

At this stage in development, many developers wonder if they should localize their game at all, and if so, which languages they should consider for localization.

If you fall into this category, you may have done some preliminary research and found out that there are these things called FIGS (French, Italian, German, and Spanish) and CJK (Chinese, Japanese, and Korean), both of which are popular language groupings within the game industry…

…but localizing into 7 whole languages

Do you really need that many languages?

Would people in Italy bother installing and playing your game? Do French gamers even like your game’s genre? (If you’re going to shell out your hard-earned money for localization, you want to be sure it’s profitable!)

Localization is COMPLICATED!


Not long ago, developers were saying markets like Russia weren’t worth the cost of localization because your game would simply be pirated. Now, developers are finding Russia to be a viable market:

There’s a lot to learn when it comes to global markets! Did you know gamers are likely to post negative reviews of your game simply for leaving their language out?

There are a whole lot of countries in the world, and it is a tremendous amount of work to:

  1. Find out if your game’s genre is popular in country X (i.e. France).

  • “Do French gamers like shoot-’em-up zombie games?”

  1. Figure out if your game’s platform (iOS, Android, etc.) is popular enough in country X to even reach gamers.

  • “Lots of people in France must have cell phones…but do many of those French gamers who happen to like shoot-’em-up zombie games also have an iPhone?”

  1. (Optional) Decide if only individual parts of your game should be localized for country X, i.e.:

    1. UI elements only? - “Maybe I can get away with only localizing my Start/Quit Game menu? Will French gamers care if I have minor dialogue with mostly swearing in English? They won’t mind missing a few swear words, right?”

    2. Subtitles only (no dubbing)? - “Will I offend French gamers if my zombie game only has French subtitles?”

    3. Changing art, etc. so your game appeals more to the local population? - “Do French gamers – or the French government – mind the over-the-top gore in my game?”

    4. Etc.

  1. Finally, assess whether the cost of localizing language A is even worth it.

  • “All right, I did all this research. I found out X number of gamers in France will play my game on platform Y. At a price of €Z and a set cost-per-install, I would barely break even.”

  1. Repeat for each country!

  • “Ugh – all this research is so tedious. Forget localization! (misses out on large profits across the globe)”

How Can I Easily Find Out Which Languages Are Best for My Game?

There’s this new, nifty (and FREE!) app that can help you assess which languages to consider for localization – the Game Market Analyzer. It was designed by nearly 25 year old game localization and publishing company LAI Global Game Services and is powered by actual data from leading market research firm DFC Intelligence.

The Game Market Analyzer analyzes anticipated return-on-investment by language and is intended to help game developers identify key languages and markets for game localization.

(Disclaimer: I helped design this app, so I do think it’s a pretty awesome tool! Although I am an indie developer, I do freelance marketing work for the company behind this app – LAI Global Game Services.)

How it Works

Here is a step-by-step guide of how the Game Market Analyzer can help a developer looking to localize their game:

  1. My team heard that FIGS (French, Italian, German, and Spanish) and CJK (Chinese, Japanese, and Korean) are popular languages for game localization, so I assume I should localize my game into some of these languages, but I’m not sure which ones. We decide to use the Game Market Analyzer app to learn a little more.

  1. I input my game’s platform and genre. (I’m using a mobile puzzle game for this example.)

(Sidenote: I could also input my target market’s age, gender, and my monetization model if I wanted to find out about appropriate publishers and third party providers in the region.)

  • As this is a newly-released app, this feature currently contains a small but growing list of providers and is continuously updated.
  • Publishers and third party providers should feel free to reach out to us if they would like to be added to this section! – gma@lai.com)
  1. The Game Market Analyzer tool reveals the top regions for this genre.

    1. It looks like North America, Western Europe, and Asia are good regions to consider.

  1. I click on Western Europe and see that the UK is the forerunner here (25% potential market penetration), in addition to Spain (at 18%), Germany (17%), and France (12%).

    1. Hm, okay. Maybe I should localize my game into Spanish, German, and French?

  1. I click “Show Localization Costs” and input a word count of 1000 words.

    1. My game isn’t very text heavy (not like an RPG!), so I don’t feel like I need a localization review for British English.

    2. Spanish, German, and French are available for premium localization of $220 each, but I don’t know whether I want to tackle that many languages initially. Maybe there’s a better option?

  1. I’m curious to see what the “Localization Optimizer™” does, so I click on “Cart Actions” and “Localization Optimizer.”

    1. Okay, this tool will help me choose optimal languages. Let’s give it a shot. Ideally, I’d like to reach about 50% of the market, so I set the slider to 50% and hit “Run the Localization Optimizer™”.

    2. The Localization Optimizer™ shows I only need to localize into 2 languages to achieve 50% market penetration – Simplified Chinese and Latin American Spanish…and it will cost less than the 3 languages I selected before – $230 total.

  1. Let’s give this a shot then. I select “Cart Actions” and “Check Out”.

    1. I see there is a pretty good cost difference between “Standard” and “Premium” quality, so I read about the difference on the info tab. I want to make sure my players don’t notice a quality difference in other languages, so it seems worth it to stick with premium.

  1. I click “Send Localization Request to LAI” after making sure I’ll be able to speak with a representative before localizing with each of these languages. (The info button confirms this.)

  1. A representative from LAI Global Game Services gets in touch with me, and we talk over what I’m looking for from localization.

  2. Since my game is both on iPhone and Android, LAI agrees that these languages are a good fit for me, although they point out that the rules in China have become more complicated this past year and explain what is now involved in bringing a game to the Chinese marketplace.

  3. For the time being, we decide to wait on China. It sounds like a promising market, especially now that mobile revenue in China has surpassed the US, but we would have to make additional changes to our game as well as submitting our game to the Chinese government for review. We’ll wait until we get sales in other parts of the world before tackling China.

  4. We decide to return to our original plan of choosing the most popular European languages instead – European French, Italian, German, and Spanish, while still including Latin American Spanish.

    1. (We don’t want the potential negative ratings to affect our game by not localizing our game into both Latin American and European Spanish!)

    2. LAI informs us we’ll have to make a few art adaptations for the German market since the game includes a few references to World War II, but we decide it’s worth it since we won’t have to change too much in the game.

  5. We also decide to have our press kit and e-mail to the press translated into French, Italian, German, and Spanish so we get more coverage on European and Latin American mobile game sites.

The Benefits to Using the Game Market Analyzer App

While the Game Market Analyzer tool isn’t 100% foolproof, it is a fantastic FREE tool, allowing developers the chance to see more data behind their game’s platform and genre…without buying expensive reports.

We listened to the key concerns of game developers in assessing global markets. You weren’t sure whether localization could:

  1. Help you achieve market penetration in international game markets

  2. Yield the monetary return you want!

In response, this tool gives you:

  1. Estimated market penetration by region (for your game’s platform and genre!)

  2. Estimated market penetration, drilling down into specific countries (for your game’s platform and genre!)

  3. The confidence to take your game global!

The Benefits

  • App data is powered by leading market research firm, DFC Intelligence.

  • A real game localization team (with nearly 25 years of experience!) is on the other end of the app, able to answer your questions about game languages and markets.

  • Infographics by country and region with additional information. Here are a few examples from the app:

The Drawbacks

  • The app doesn’t currently drill down into specifics (Android vs. iOS, monetization model, etc.), but this is something LAI Global Game Services can help you with when you reach out.

  • It also can’t tell you current market trends that can help or hinder your entry into a given market (i.e. new regulations in China), but again, that is something you can learn by reaching out.


  • GMA is a tool that helps you see your game’s potential in different markets, clearly showing you the best case market penetration that can be expected, based on real world data. It’s a great starting point in planning your localization strategy!

  • However, we recommend that you speak to LAI to understand other factors of the target market such as cultural taboos, regulatory requirements,and monetization conventions, that could be key in making your game globally successful.

We wish you the best of luck in bringing your games to global markets! We’re more than happy to answer any questions you might have about game localization.

Check out the GMA app, now available on iPad! (iPhone release early 2017)

– GMA updates are available on both Facebook and Twitter.

Want to Release Your Game in China? Find Yourself a Quality Partner!

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By Karin Skoog (@KarinESkoog) & Michelle Zhao (@MengxueZhao)

We frequently see articles about Chinese regulations on Gamasutra and across industry sites, with talk of consoles being banned and then reintroduced. The Chinese games
market is a complicated space, particularly if you don’t have local ties to China.

If you’re a mobile games developer, you may have noticed that the market became even more complicated this past year.

Yet another regulation introduced will prohibit your mobile game from being released in China unless you navigate very carefully.

Market Opportunity in China

China represents a huge market potential, but it is likely most mobile game developers who try to enter the Chinese market in the near future will fail.

  • China is currently the “most valuable [mobile games market] in the world” according to GamesIndustry.biz.

  • A recent report from Niko Partners estimates 465 million mobile players in China by the end of 2016, generating $1.3 billion from mobile game exports, nearly doubling to $2.1 billion by 2020.

  • Just yesterday, TechCrunch posted an article stating China has surpassed the US in iOS App Store revenue, with Chinese mobile games consumption far exceeding the US (driving 75% of App Store revenue!).

Graphic from TechCrunch’s “China overtakes the U.S. in iOS App Store revenue.

An Overview of Video Games in China

To understand the new regulations, it helps to take a look at the evolution of video games in China:

Although Mario games were widely played in China beginning in the 1980s, it was World of Warcraft that kicked off computer games with its beta in 2005.

It took time for computer games to take off in China due to slow internet connections, but when they did, they quickly drew the attention of Chinese authorities, causing a number to be censored or banned. As creative products (like video games) gain in popularity in China, Chinese authorities crack down and regulate.

Now that mobile games have exploded in popularity – even surpassing PC game popularity in China – we are starting to see the repercussions. (See the graph below from our partner, DFC Intelligence, showing the rise of mobile gamers in China vs. PC gamers.)

Mobile games snuck up on Chinese authorities at an even greater rate than PC games of the prior decade – suddenly appearing and then rapidly spreading to the masses. To the government, games seemed to come with a host of problems due to their widespread popularity, including an influx of lawsuits and IP issues with international entities.

As with PC games from decades before, mobile games have entered a period of careful scrutiny, which brings us to new, present-day regulations.

New Chinese Regulations

China’s governing body of creative media (the State Administration of Press, Publications, Radio, Film, and Television) is the organization responsible for bans on select books and movies, game consoles (in prior years), excessive gore in games, and now, mobile games.

According to this new regulation, any game perceived as being a “story-based game” is subject to review by the State Administration. The approval process can be time consuming due to the limited number of people currently reviewing submissions.

This is big news because this approval process is the biggest barrier ever imposed on video game developers looking to enter China. The vast number of mobile games flooding the marketplace quickly drew the attention of Chinese authorities and led to the biggest crackdown on games in China to date.

The new regulation was put into effect in July, and since the start of 2016, only 22 non-Chinese mobile games have been released in China (according to a list updated by the State Administration on August 29th).

Among the foreign games approved and released this year, the majority were MAJOR foreign IPs, such as Temple Run, Candy Soda Legend, Angry Birds, Subway Surfers, Fruit Ninja, and Monument Valley.

When The New Regulation Comes into Effect

If you go to China and check out the App Store now, you will find thousands of unapproved games. The original plan was to pull unapproved games from the marketplace October 1st (but the deadline was extended to December 31st), meaning that any games released in China before this year are likely to be pulled if they don’t attain approval from Chinese authorities.

There has been speculation over whether China’s State Administration has the resources and time to pull so many games from the marketplace. However, the new regulation made such big news this summer because many believe China will follow through on this regulation.

It may take some time for unapproved games to be pulled (possibly longer than the anticipated end of year deadline), but it is something developers should take note of, to ensure their own games aren’t at risk of being pulled from the Chinese market.

Submission Process

There are currently two types of approval processes – an expedited approval process for games without a storyline and an extensive approval process for games with any kind of a storyline.

- Simplified/Expedited Approval Process: Non-Story Based Games

Here is a brief look at what is required for the simplified approval process:

  • No storyline or an extremely simple storyline.

  • Regulations currently state that the copyright must be owned by a Chinese individual or entity.

This means you absolutely must have a Chinese publisher to assist in bringing your game to the Chinese marketplace.

  • No political, military, nationalities, or religious content.

- Extensive Approval Process: Story Based Games

All other games must undergo an extensive approval process, often taking 2-4 months for approval (in some cases, approval can even take up to 6 months!). If the studio has a good relationship with the government, it is possible to get approval within 40 days.

Here is what’s required for the approval of story-based games:

  • Submit games 20 days before launch.

  • Submit an extensive amount of paperwork.

  • Send a smartphone to Chinese authorities with a build of the game, functioning SIM card, and data plan for each version of the game (i.e. Android and iPhone).

  • Within one week of launch, submit additional paperwork and details to Chinese authorities.

Where Does this Leave Indie Devs?

Based on the games released in China this past year, many publishers in China are focused on bringing over games they know will be a hit – games that already made it big and are guaranteed to bring in the big bucks.

This means that it is increasingly more difficult for mobile game developers without an already established IP to launch a mobile game within the Chinese market. This isn’t to say it can’t be done or that developers shouldn’t target China – the Chinese mobile market alone brings in more revenue than the US!

China has already surpassed US revenue from mobile games!

This simply means that foreign developers looking to release mobile games in China must find a reputable local partner interested in publishing their games.

It is now essential for mobile game developers to work with local partners, as foreign entities are no longer allowed to publish in China. With larger Chinese publishers appearing to support only well-established IPs (i.e. Candy Crush), it may take some time to find a partner willing to publish your game, but quality partners do exist.

A Few Words of Caution

It can be difficult to conduct business in China as a foreigner. It isn’t uncommon encounter scams and to receive false information from people who claim to be looking out for your best interest.

We want to provide you with a few words of caution:

  • Be wary of scams – there are many scam artist “publishers” or “agents” who are more than willing to take your money.

  • Some people may try to convince you they are an “authorized agent” who can take care of the review process for you. This is not the case! These kinds of scams are a known problem for foreign developers trying to enter the Chinese market. Chinese authorities already released an official answer to clarify that no such “authorized agents” exist.

  • Some developers claim this entire process is one big ruse for corruption, forcing developers to share revenue with already large, local publishers. As with any part of business, don’t enter into any deals you don’t feel comfortable with!

Why is a Partner Key to Success in China?


China is a country where personal relationships (guan-xi) hold an incredibly amount of importance. Without going through ‘relationship-based channels,’ it is very possible the game you spent so much time and effort developing (and even localizing) for the Chinese market may end up never being released in China.

Find Yourself a Quality Partner

It can be challenging, to say the least, to know which companies you can trust. We would like to take the time to introduce our company – LAI Global Games Services – as we have been helping game developers navigate the global marketplace for decades. LAI has long-standing roots in China and thorough knowledge of the marketplace, as well as localization considerations for the region.

LAI’s office in China.

LAI has decades of experience in the Asian games market. We started out localizing content for Japanese companies back in 1993, and today, we have offices in China, Japan, and the San Francisco Bay Area, offering game publishing services and 35+ languages for game localization.

Due to our long-standing relationship with companies in China, LAI is in the unique position to offer game developers advice on entry into the Chinese market, as well as the best opportunity to actually launch your game in China.

How LAI Global Game Services Can Help You!

We work directly with local authorities and experts in the Chinese market to ensure games have the best opportunity to succeed. This includes:

  1. Helping your company understand the rules within the Chinese marketplace and localization considerations (such as eliminating ALL English characters in the game to diminish the possibility of rejection by Chinese authorities);

  1. Navigating the local market to help you find the most suitable Chinese publishers to match YOUR NEEDS, saving you time and money;

  1. Working as a liaison with the publisher in China to oversee and assist with any operations as needed, including:

  1. B2B business tips in China.

  2. Process interpretation.

  3. Assistance to help avoid misunderstandings, errors resulting from miscommunication/culture shock.

Reach Out to LAI!

We are always more than happy to assist with any questions you might have about current regulations or partnerships in China.

You can reach out to us @LAIGlobalGame or info@lai.com, or better yet, you can contact our CEO, David Lakritz, directly at dave@lai.com! We look forward to your questions and comments!

Visit www.lai.com for more information.

Learning Languages with Video Games!

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One of the first things I do when I start playing a game is to check the language options. I am genuinely curious how many languages developers/publishers chose to localize to, as well as which languages. (I also love testing my language skills by playing games in other languages, usually French, Spanish, or Swedish when available.)

It is usually difficult to find ample language options in games, particularly for voiceover.

Acquiring New Language Skills

Even though I haven’t studied Portuguese, I played WoW on a Portuguese server for a while and ended up picking up a fair number of words by questing with others. I typed to them in Spanish (using my rather limited Spanish language knowledge at the time), and they typed back in Portuguese. Although some words are similar, Spanish and Portuguese are very much two separate languages.

It actually didn’t take long before I was able to use some Portuguese words while playing WoW. It was a whole different way of experiencing the game, and a whole lot of fun!

How to Change the Language

It can be surprisingly tricky to find the language options for different games. In your Steam library, you may have to right click the game in your library and then select a language option, rather than being able to change the language in-game.

Even for consoles, it is possible (for some games) that you will need to turn your console’s language into the language you want to play the game in, as a select number of games don’t have a language menu option available. 

Before we move onto our list of games that are good to learn from, I want to take the time to cover UI/menus and why it can be complicated for even intermediate language learners to understand games that automatically change menu languages as well.

Complex vs. Simple Menus

Pillars of Eternity      vs.      Broken Age

In the majority of games, changing subtitle options also changes the menu text. This can make it particularly challenging to play a game in a language you aren’t already familiar with.

…And I don’t mean you’re familiar with words commonly used in modern day France or Germany

…I mean that, in order to understand most game menus, you need to understand genre and game-specific words.

This may include words like:

  • “Screen resolution,” “magic system,” “poison status,” “durability,” and “weapon repair kit”

…plus detailed descriptions of items, such as:

  • “Used for repairing steel and iron weapons”

  • “Increases relationship points with peasants and farmhands.”

This is a particular challenge in playing RPGs in other languages, especially in games where pop ups are frequent and in-game menus are extensive. It can be extremely challenging to navigate when you don’t have advanced language knowledge (or very specific vocab!).

Let’s dive into the list of games that are good to play in other languages!

5 Games to Increase Your Language Skills!

1. Broken Age

Double Fine

Subtitles: French, Italian, German, Spanish, Russian

Voiceovers: German

Good for the following skill levels: Intermediate and higher

What makes this game good for learning languages?

  • Dialogue selections don’t impact gameplay.

You have time to read each dialogue option carefully (if you wish), and after you select an option, the character repeats the selected option in English. It is an excellent way to test your language skills and learn new words!

Plus, dialogue selections don’t impact gameplay, so (as far as we’ve seen), you won’t unintentionally select an option you didn’t mean to choose.

  • Limited in-game UI.

Since the inventory menu is image-based in Broken Age, the only menu you might have to read is the option menu, with languages and the ability to save and exit the game. This requires relatively minimal language knowledge. As long as you know the word for “Subtitles,” you can easily navigate back to the English option and change any settings before continuing on with the game.

My experience playing Broken Age in other languages:

This is a game I now thoroughly enjoy playing in French because I am able to practice my comprehension and learn new vocab. Because the game has such limited UI, I am still able to enjoy the game without being a complete master in French.

I could see where it wouldn’t be as enjoyable to play with only basic knowledge of a language, but for increasing intermediate language skills, it’s a great learning tool!

Although German isn’t one of the languages I’ve studied, I gave the voiceovers a shot. If you wanted to level up your German language skills, the voiceover option is a fantastic way! You can change the voiceover and subtitle language separately, so you can have spoken German and German subtitles, English subtitles, or any other subtitle language option.


  2. Alan Wake

Remedy Entertainment 

Subtitles: French, German, Italian, Spanish, Chinese (traditional), Japanese, Korean, Polish, Russian

Voiceovers: French, German, Italian, Spanish, Japanese

Good for the following skill levels: Intermediate and higher


What makes this game good for learning languages?

  • It is possible to enjoy Alan Wake with intermediate-advanced language skills.

Even if you play with voiceovers in another language, the storyline and dialogue is relatively easier to understand than in most other games with voiceovers.

It isn’t an overly complicated storyline to follow if you don’t understand a cutscene entirely, (and if you want to understand a cutscene more completely, you can look it up on YouTube to catch what you missed). As always, it helps if you have some familiarity with the storyline already (i.e. this is your second playthrough).

You’ll notice that further down in this list, I marked another game with voiceovers as more appropriate for advanced language learners – Deus Ex: Human Revolution. This is because Deus Ex has a lot more happening at once story-wise than Alan Wake (due to multiple storylines, background dialogue from NPCs, more intense reading comprehension, in addition to complicated UI/menus).

Have a different opinion about Alan Wake and Deus Ex in other languages? Leave a comment below, or tweet us @LAIGlobalGame!

What makes this game complicated to play in other languages?

  • As with many other games, all in-game instructions are in the target language.

You may have to double check key mappings if you aren’t familiar with how to play the game. Since it had been a while since I played Alan Wake, I had to look up what the key “maj” was in French. (It turns out “maj” is sometimes used for “Shift.”)

My experience playing Alan Wake in other languages:

This is a game I can see myself playing multiple times in different languages in languages where I have intermediate comprehension. My knowledge in Japanese isn’t high enough yet to enjoy the voiceovers with the subtitles (since the voiceovers and subtitles seem to be a package deal), but it is enjoyable to play in languages where I do have intermediate language knowledge.


3. Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture

The Chinese Room 

Subtitles: French, Italian, German, Spanish, Portuguese (Iberian and Brazilian), Traditional Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Dutch, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish, Polish, Russian

Voiceovers: French, Italian, German, Spanish, Japanese, Brazilian Portuguese, Polish, Russian

Good for the following skill levels: Intermediate and higher

If you think it’s rare to find games with voiceover language options, it’s extremely rare to find an indie game with voiceover options, and the voiceovers in Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture are done extremely well!

I tweeted The Chinese Room about it, and they credited their publisher, Sony, with providing language options for players:

What makes this game good for learning languages?

  • You can change the voiceover and subtitle options separately, plus it uses an icon-based UI system!

I ended up trying voiceovers in French and subtitles in Swedish (German subtitles shown in the below image). What I didn’t catch in one language, I was able to pick up from the other. The UI is limited (and in-game posters, etc. are still in English), so you can understand the full game by changing either the voiceovers or subtitles to a different language and retaining the other in English. 

This is a game I could see myself going back to simply for the language learning value!


4. The Last of Us Remastered

Naughty Dog

Subtitles (European game version): French, Italian, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish, Czech, Greek, Turkish

Voiceovers (European game version): French, Italian, German, Spanish

Good for the following skill levels: Any

 What makes this game good for learning languages?

  • You don’t need to be a language wizard to enjoy this game.

This is one of the only games I’ve seen so far where players can separately change subtitle language, menu language, AND voiceover language. Major props to Naughty Dog for allowing users to change each of these language options separately!

What makes this game complicated to play in other languages?

If you decide to play through the game with all text in the target language, it can be challenging to say the least.

There are a lot of letters scattered throughout the game, and they can be rather long and dense (filled with words beyond a regular language learner’s intermediate vocab), but if you’re willing to spend a little extra time, it is a rewarding game to play in another language. (You can always switch the text back to English if needed, although it does take some time to restart the game.)

Before playing The Last of Us with Swedish subtitles, I had no idea how to say words like “infected” or “explosive,” but even made up words like “clicker” (“clickare” in Swedish) were easy to follow. A lot of the new vocab you pick up in games isn’t necessarily the most useful for everyday life, but you certainly learn a lot of useful vocab along the way too.

Crafting can also be complicated to understand the first time you see it in another language. I don’t think language teachers are likely to teach students words like blade, binding, rag, or explosive. Fortunately, the text for the crafting system is rather limited (and includes icons), so it doesn’t take too long to pick up.

My experience playing The Last of Us in other languages:

Since it’s harder to find games that include Scandinavian languages (the majority of Scandinavians prefer to play games in English), I thoroughly enjoy the fact that Naughty Dog offers both Uncharted and The Last of Us in Swedish (at least, in European versions of the games).

I don’t have the most advanced knowledge of Swedish, but I was able to get the gist of most in-game letters on my second playthrough of The Last of Us. Some, I could even read in their entirety. There were some though, where the words baffled me.

I asked a Swede why the word “dagar” (days) became “dar” in one of the letters (“dar” was a word I’d never seen or heard before). It turns out some of the text uses shortened versions of words people use only when speaking, not writing.

It’s a little like how people bunch words together in English when speaking. Instead of distinctly saying each word, “What do you want?” it can become “Whaddya want?” (A dictionary is unlikely to have spoken slang or shorthand (i.e. “whaddya”), so it can be an extra challenge as a second language learner.)

I had a lot of fun playing through The Last of Us again with Swedish subtitles. As I mentioned, the UI can be a major hurdle, but if you’re patient with a dictionary, have a bilingual friend to play with, or can find the same text online in English, it can be a great way to pick up new pieces of a language fast!


Voiceover Options++

The following game will test your spoken language knowledge, as well as written. It can be rather difficult to find games that have a lot of voiceover options, as it is more common for games to have subtitle options only or limited voiceover options.

5. Deus Ex: Human Revolution

Eidos Montréal

Subtitles: French, Italian, German, Spanish

Voiceovers: French, Italian, German, Spanish

Good for the following skill levels: Advanced

UI note: If you change the game into a language you don’t know and try to get back to the menu option to change, it can be challenging to say the least. There are a couple layers of menus you need to go through to find the language selection option.

What makes this game good for learning languages?

  • This game will really test your knowledge!

As far as I can tell, there is no way to separate voiceover language from subtitle language. If you change the game into Italian, your Italian should be at a pretty advanced level already in order to fully appreciate Deus Ex.

That being said, it is less common to find games with localized voiceovers in so many languages. If you played through Deux Ex at least once already (so you are familiar with the story and won’t miss anything!) and have an intermediate skill level in French, Italian, German, or Spanish, you can really up your language skills by playing through it again in one of these languages.

My experience playing Deus Ex: Human Revolution in other languages:

I haven’t played Deus Ex all the way through in another language yet, but this is one game I plan on returning to multiple times to boost my language skills!

Thanks for Reading!

We’re a nearly 25 year old game localization and publishing company here at LAI Global Game Services, and we are passionate about giving gamers the option to enjoy video games in their own languages.

With people now playing games all over the world, it is becoming more commonplace to offer games in a variety of languages, and we are glad to be a part of helping to make games more accessible to a global audience!

Have a different opinion about playing these games in other languages or have other games to recommend? Leave a comment below, or tweet us @LAIGlobalGame!

All language option information (subtitles and voiceovers) gathered Fall 2016. Broken Age, Alan Wake, and Deus Ex were tested using Steam. Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture and The Last of Us Remastered were tested using the European PlayStation console versions.

Pokémon: A Localized Journey

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Video game localization is one part of game development that often remains enshrouded in mystery. Why was place name X changed in the German version of a game? Why did that character’s name become something entirely different? It isn’t always immediately clear to gamers why localization teams make the decisions they do…

Sometimes it has to do with a direct word translation sounding too much like a pre-existing product in another region of the world. Sometimes one possible version of translated text makes no sense in Spanish or Japanese and needs to be adapted to fit within cultural context.

It is even possible a part of a storyline may bear too much resemblance to an actual historical event within, say Asia, and large sections of the text need to be entirely rewritten so the game isn’t banned within the region.

Localized Pokémon Names

Since Pokémon GO has been making such a big splash worldwide, we wanted to take the opportunity to discuss game localization using real world examples. While Pokémon names may not contain particularly historical or culturally-heavy implications, that doesn’t mean their localization is straightforward.

Pokémon characters are a good example of how localization can be accomplished in many different ways. Some Pokémon names are alliterations, whereas others resonate more with the character’s appearance. This means that Pokémon names are a good example of how video game localization teams sometimes use creativity to develop unique names in other languages.

Translation Example

In English, Grimer is a Pokémon name that doesn’t seem to have a particular meaning, although the name may bring to mind a grimy or dirty creature.

However, in French, translators took the opportunity for the name to directly reflect the Pokémon’s slimy appearance. Grimer’s name becomes Tadmorv in French, literally meaning “pile of snot.”

It isn’t always necessary for translators to retain the original meaning of a Pokémon from one language to another, with Pokémon characters receiving different names across English, French, German, Korean, Chinese, and Japanese.


Some names were localized to sound like what the creature is or the noise it would make (an onomatopoeia). One example of this is the English Pokémon Golduck becoming “Akwakwak” in French.

Conveying Meaning through Translation

Other translations describe the Pokémon’s key characteristics. For example, Charizard becomes “Dracaufeu” in French, with “feu” meaning “fire” and “dracau” conjuring an image of a dragon-like creature.

Quite a number of Pokémon translations retain a very literal image of Pokémon. In the below infographic, you can see a number of these examples in Chinese, including Fearow (literally, “big mouth sparrow”) and Bulbasaur (literally, “wonderful frog seed”).

Pikachu & Localization Controversy

Pikachu is one of few Pokémon whose name remains recognizable across all languages. The romanized (Pinyin) version of Pikachu in Chinese is Píkǎqiū. However, earlier this year, there were protests in Hong Kong over a proposed name change to Pikachu.

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of Pokémon, Pokémon Sun and Moon are set to be released in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and mainland China in both traditional and simplified Chinese.

While Pokémon names differed throughout these regions, Nintendo made a move to “unify” the region through localization by creating one translated version. The issue with this is that Mandarin and Cantonese are separate languages, and by “unifying” Chinese versions of Pokémon names, players felt Nintendo was not respecting their history with the Pokémon brand.

There were protests in Hong Kong following the release of a list showing that most Pokémon names would retain the Mandarin versions of the names rather than the Cantonese. Among these names, the originally named “Bei-kaa-chyu” (比卡超) for Pikachu, became “Pei-kaa-jau” (皮卡丘).

This was unacceptable for Pokémon fans in Hong Kong, where people protested with signs “No Pei-kaa-jau, give me back Bei-kaa-chyu.”

Pokémon Localization Infographic

We hope you enjoy the infographic below showing some of the localized names we find interesting between different language versions of Pokémon. If you have suggestions for future infographics and blog posts you would like to see, feel free to send us a Tweet @LAIGlobalGame.

Video Games & Global Valentine’s Day Traditions, Part 1

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A Brief History of Valentine’s Day


To-morrow is Saint Valentine’s day,

All in the morning betime,

And I a maid at your window,

To be your Valentine.

Then up he rose, and donn’d his clothes,

And dupp’d the chamber-door;

Let in the maid, that out a maid

Never departed more.

-          Hamlet


Valentine’s Day is already here! To some people, it means doing something romantic for a loved one. And to some game developers, it means adding holiday-themed content to their games. This may mean adding hearts, Cupid arrows, and pink items, such as in Angry Birds Seasons, or it may mean letter and gift deliveries depending on relationships with in-game characters, such as in Animal Crossing.


The holiday, as we know it today, is said to have its roots in 14th century England. According to scholars, February 14th first became associated with love and romance thanks to Geoffrey Chaucer, the “Father of English literature” and notable poet of the Middle Ages. Chaucer’s writing supposedly incorporates the first written record of Valentine’s Day:


For this was on seynt Volantynys day

              Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese his make.

-          Parlement of Foules (1382)


There are many legends and stories associated with the birth of this holiday, including feasts that gave rise to courtly love and the belief in the Middle Ages that birds actually paired couples together. Over the centuries, Valentine’s Day evolved into a day to express love to others via flowers, candies, and cards, spreading from Medieval England to other parts of Europe and, more recently, to Asia, which is often attributed to the spread of American pop culture, as some Valentine’s Day celebrations didn’t begin until just a couple decades ago.


Although this holiday is now in many countries around the world, it certainly doesn’t mean the day is celebrated uniformly throughout. While many people globally are familiar with the way Americans celebrate Valentine’s Day, that doesn’t mean gamers in every country know of American Valentine traditions or would even appreciate the integration of these customs in local video games.


In this multi-part article, we will cover the different ways Valentine’s Day is celebrated internationally and how game content based on real-world traditions necessitates adaption (or localization) for each given market:



Age-Old Tradition of Romance – China

China’s equivalent of Valentine’s Day stretches back many centuries to the Han Dynasty (a dynasty lasting from 206BC to 220AD). This celebration is known as the Qi Xi Festival, and it takes place on the 7th day of the 7th month of the Chinese lunar calendar (this year on August 2nd). (It is also called the Magpie or Double Seventh Festival.)


There are multiple legends surrounding this holiday. These legends speak of two lovers, the Cowherd (Niu Lang) and Weaver Maid (Zhi Nu), who are only able to cross the Milky Way once a year in order to be together. One legend says that the Weaver Girl came down from heaven to marry the Cowherd and have children with him, but when the God of Heaven realized this had happened, he ordered Queen Mother of the Western Heavens to return Zhi Nu back to the heavens. Another legend says that Niu Lang and Zhi Nu were fairies on the opposite sides of the Milky Way, and when they were together, they would neglect their work, so the Jade Emperor of Heaven only permitted them to meet once a year.


Game Examples

There are many aspects of Chinese legend and history that game developers can draw upon when creating game content for the Chinese market, and Chinese gamers respond positively to this cultural content. Thus, numerous games have been created for the Qi Xi Festival. Perhaps a more well-known game example is from Google. Last year, Google released a Google Doodle game for the Qi Xi Festival, where users create a bridge of magpies so the two lovers can meet.


Larger games, like MMOs, also work to incorporate local content when possible. There is an MMO set in ancient China, Conquer Online, that had a Qi Xi quest a couple years ago, where players gathered items and summoned the magpies to bring “happiness to the Herd-boy and the Weaving-girl.” This kind of culturally-focused content tends to have positive effects on sales, as gamers appreciate game content that incorporates local traditions.


While it is now common for women to receive chocolate or flowers on White Day, in some parts of China, traditional aspects of the Qi Xi festival are still celebrated, with girls displaying their domestic skills. Common celebrations in the past for girls included competitions for threading needles under low light conditions, praying to Zhi Nu for wisdoms, reciting prayers, and wishing for a good future husband. In addition to competitions for young girls, the Qi Xi Festival was also a time of celebration for newlyweds. Young women would also place fruit, flowers, tea, and face powder out for Niu Lang and Zhi Nu, throwing half of the face powder onto the roof and using the other half amongst themselves, signifying shared beauty with Zhi Nu.



Beware! – Not Everyone Celebrates Valentine’s Day

When bringing Valentine’s Day-themed content to other countries, it is crucial to keep in mind that there are a number of countries that do not permit Valentine’s Day celebrations, due to religious beliefs and/or political parties. This is because some people believe Valentine’s Day has associations with Christianity or is symbolic of the penetration of Western culture.


It is important to keep this in mind and to learn which countries do not allow the celebration of Valentine’s Day, as often the sale of red items, romantic cards, flowers, and other such gifts is banned (such as in Saudi Arabia). There have even been reports of protesters and volunteers in some countries attacking couples and burning Valentine’s Day cards (such as in India). Despite the widespread animosity toward the holiday in some areas of the world, some couples in these countries may celebrate Valentine’s Day in the privacy of their homes, buying flowers and gifts on the black market or vacationing in a country like Dubai in order to celebrate the day.


It follows that Valentine-related content would not go over well in countries where there is unrest surrounding the holiday. Instead, game developers that typically create holiday-themed game content (such as Rovio) find other ways to stay relevant across global markets. It was reported last year by IGN that Rovio is studying the Middle East in order to effectively communicate stories from the region. As Rovio’s COO, Harri Koponen said, “There is a long Arabic history and lots of interesting stories that need to be told in the region, like One Thousand and One Nights. We are always developing more local content – we have been focusing on themes recently.”


While Valentine content could cause intense problems when released in certain parts of the world, there are ways to pay homage to historical traditions without unintentionally making a cultural or political statement with the inclusion of the Western version of the holiday in games. For example, game developers looking to integrate local traditions related to love and romance may look to ancient India, where the Kamadeva, the Lord of Love, was celebrated.



In the next part of this article, we will take a closer look at other global traditions surrounding love, romance, and Valentine’s Day.

LocaLAIse This! – Interview with Executive Director of the IGDA, Kate Edwards

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LocaLAIse This! (pronounced “Localize This”) features an interview with Kate Edwards, Executive Director of the IGDA. Kate has worked extensively as a geopolitical strategist and localization expert at leading companies such as Google, Amazon, and Microsoft. She has worked on numerous AAA titles, including the Dragon Age series, Modern Warfare 3, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Mass Effect 3, and Halo 4.


In this episode, Kate discusses emerging markets, proper culturalization of games, and her work consulting on AAA titles. You can check it out at this link, or download it for free from the iTunes Store. 


Translation Conferences January-October 2014

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It’s a job and a half finding all of the industry conferences and events happening around the world, so we made life easier for you by providing a comprehensive list of relevant translation conferences and locations/dates.  Also check out our earlier post with video game conferences and which ones we will be attending.

If there are any conferences we missed, please let us know @LanguageAutoInc.  We greatly appreciate and encourage feedback!

Sign up for our newsletter to receive monthly conference updates.  Enjoy!


January 9-10, 2014 Colloquium “Performativity and Translation” at the Hong Kong Baptist University and City University of Hong Kong in Hong Kong

January 9-12, 2014 The American Name Society (ANS) in Minneapolis, Minnesota

January 9-12, 2014 129th MLA Annual Convention at the Chicago Marriott and the Sheraton Chicago in Chicago, Illinois

January 21-23, 2014 USAN 2014 at Stellenbosch University, South Africa

January 23-25, 2014 10th International Congress on English Grammar (ICEG)

January 30-31, 2014 Translation in Transition: Between Cognition, Computing, and Technology at the Copenhagen Business School in Frederiksberg, Denmark

January 30-31, 2014 The 6th Riga Symposium on Pragmatic Aspects of Translation “Translation, Quality, Costs” at the University of Latvia in Latvia

January 31, 2014 2nd Durham Postgraduate Colloquium at Durham University in Durham, UK

February 6-8, 2014 30th South Asian Language Analysis Roundtable at the University of Hyderabad in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, India

February 10-11, 2014 Rhizomes VIII: Surviving and Thriving in Multilingual Spaces at the University of Queensland

February 13-14, 2014 XXXIV International VAKKI Symposium in Vaasa, Finland

February 24-26, 2014 Localization World in Bangkok

February 27, 2014 Subtitling and Intercultural Communication, European Languages and Beyond at Università per Stranieri di Siena

February 28-March 1, 2014 L’Humour, le ludique, le rire: Approches interdisciplinaires at l’Université de Victoria in Victoria, BC, Canada

March 5-6, 2014 The Fourth International Conference on Religious Texts and Translation in Marrakech

March 5-7, 2014 DUT International Language Symposium: Developing Africa through a Harvest and Reinvestment of Multilingualism at the Durban University of Technology

March 6-8, 2014 The Ethical and the Violent International Interdisciplinary Conference at the University of Sousse

March 7-9, 2014 Second Asia Pacific Corpus Linguistics Conference at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University in Hunghom, Kowloon, Hong Kong

March 13-14, 2014 International Conference on Translation and Accessibility in Video Games and Virtual Worlds at Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain

March 13-15, 2014 Conference on Baltic and Scandinavian Studies at Yale University in New Haven, CT

March 20-22, 2014 Identity and Conflict in the Middle East and Its Diasporic Cultures at the University of Balamand in Lebanon

March 20-22, 2014 Groupe d’étude et de recherche en anglais de spécialité (GERAS) at l’Université d’Aix-Marseille in Aix-en Provence, France

March 21, 2014 5th Biennial Graduate Student Conference, Packaging Meaning: Culture and Concepts in Words and Grammar at the University of Texas in Austin, Texas

March 21-22, 2014 Translating the Voices of Theory: Intercultural Passages, Resistances, and Audibility in Paris, France

March 24, 2014 From Ethics to Censorship: Constraints in Translation and in Translation Studies at Concordia University in Quebec, Canada

March 24-26, 2014 Eighth Students’ Conference of Linguistics in India at Kashmir University in Srinagar, India

March 26-27, 2014 I Coloquio Hermeneus: Los Estudios de Traducción e Interpretación Basados en Corpus in Soria, Spain

March 27-28, 2014 Interdisciplinary Approaches to Translation (InATra) in Bydogoszcz, Poland

March 27-29, 2014 Language in Focus: Exploring the Challenges and Opportunities in Linguistics and English Language Teaching in Antalya, Turkey

March 28-29, 2014 The Translation and Localization Conference in Warsaw, Poland

April 3-4, 2014 (RE)Visiting Ethics and Ideology in Situations of Conflict in Madrid, Spain

April 3-5, 2014 New Tasks for Legal Interpreters and Translators in the Enlarged Europe in Krakow, Poland

April 3-5, 2014 32nd International Conference of the Spanish Association of Applied Linguistics (AESLA) at the University Pablo de Olavide in Seville, Spain

April 3-5, 2014 The American Translation and Interpreting Studies Association (ATISA) VII: Where Theory and Practice Meet at New York University in New York City, New York

April 4, 2014 General and Specialist Translation/Interpretation: Theory, Methods, Practice in Kyiv, Ukraine

April 7-8, 2014 Empirical Methods in Linguistics (EMLS) at the University of Lodz in Poland

April 10-11, 2014 TAUS Executive Forum in Tokyo, Japan

April 11-12, 2014 Words and Music II in Portoroz, Slovenia

April 11-12, 2014 XII Symposium on Translation and Interpreting the Myths of Translation and Interpreting at the University of Tampere in Tampere, Finland

April 14-16, 2014 Global Translation Flows, 5th Annual Translation Conference in Doha, Qatar

April 14-17, 2014 Certificate in Collaborative Translation Training in Auckland, New Zealand

April 16-18, 2014 8th International IDEA Conferences: Studies in English at Sitki Kocman Mugla University in Mugla, Turkey

April 17-19, 2014 The 2nd International Symposium on Languages for Specific Purposes at the University of Alabama in Birmingham, Alabama

April 25-26, 2014 War and Peace in the Life of Language at the University of Nottingham in Nottingham

April 26, 2014 Human in the Loop: Workshop on Humans and Computer-Assisted Translation (HaCat) in Gothenburg, Sweden

April 26-30, 2014 The 14th Conference of the European Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics (EACL) in Gothenburg, Sweden

April 29-30, 2014 Key Cultural Texts in Translation in Leicester, UK

April 30-May 4, 2014 35th ICAME Conference at the University of Nottingham in Nottingham

May 1-4, 2014 AICW Biennial Conference, Writing and Translating Culture: Bridging Differences Together in Montreal, Canada

May 2-3, 2014 Budapest 2014 in Budapest, Hungary

May 7-9, 2014 TISLID ’14: 2nd International Workshop on Technological Innovation for Specialized Linguistic Domains – Lifelong Learning on the Move at the University of Salamanca in Avila, Spain

May 8-9, 2014 ASLA Symposium: Language and Identity/Språk och identitet in Stockholm, Sweden

May 8-10, 2014 Political Linguistics III: (Re)construing nationhood in ‘(un)doing Europe’ today? in Warsaw, Poland

May 15-17, 2014 3rd International Conference: Language and Law in Social Practice in Italy

May 20-21, 2014 Mediating Translation in Europe from the Early Modern Period to the 20th Century: Translation Studies and Transnational Literary Histiography at Ghent University in Ghent, Belgium

May 22-23, 2014 Traduire le sacré dans les langues et littératures de l’Orient at Université d’Artois in France

May 22-24, 2014 6th International Conference on Corpus Linguistics at the Universidad de las Palmas de Gran Canaria in Spain

May 22-24, 2014 The 1st International Conference on Food and Culture in Translation at the University of Bologna in Italy

May 23, 2014 TAUS Translation Automation Roundtable in Moscow, Russia

May 26-28, 2014 27th Conference of the Canadian Association for Translation Studies (CATS) at Brock University in Ontario, Canada

May 29-30, 2014 The International Conference: Representing, (De)Constructing and Translating Borderlands in Krasnogruda, Poland

May 29-31, 2014 International Conference on Economic, Business, Financial, and Institutional Translation at the University of Alicante in Alicante, Spain

May 29-31, 2014 2nd International Conference on Non-Professional Interpreting and Translation at Mainz University in Germersheim, Germany

May 26-June 6, 2014 Nida School of Translation Studies (NSTS)

May 29-June 1, 2014 20th Anniversary of IQLA and Journal of Quantitative Linguistics (JQL) in the Czech Republic

June 2-7, 2014 Translation in Russian Contexts: Transcultural, Translingual, and Transdisciplinary Points of Departure at Uppsala University in Uppsala, Sweden

June 3-5, 2014 International NooJ 2014 Conference at the University of Sassari in Italy

June 4-6, 2014 Localization World in Dublin, Ireland

June 4-6, 2014 On the Border of Language and Dialect at the University of Eastern Finland in Joensuu, Finland

June 5-6, 2014 1st International Conference on Translation Studies – Translating Asia: Now and Then in Bangkok, Thailand

June 5-7, 2014 Second IATIS Regional Workshop: Collaborative Translation – From Antiquity to the Internet in Paris, France

June 12-14, 2014 9th International Conference on Third Language Acquisition and Multilingualism at Uppsala University in Uppsala, Sweden

June 13-15, 2014 3rd International Conference on Itineraries in Translation History at the University of Tartu in Estonia

June 15-18, 2014 Sociolinguistics Symposium 20 in Jyväskylä, Finland

June 17-19, 2014 XXVI FILLM International Congress: Languages and Literatures Today in Ningbo, China

June 18-19, 2014 Innovation in Language Learning: Multimodal Approaches at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona in Spain

June 18-20, 2014 Languages and the First World War in London, UK

June 19-20, 2014 East Asian Translation Studies Conference in Norwich, UK

July 2, 2014 FIT XXth World Conference in Berlin, Germany

August 16-17, 2014 2014 International Conference on Translation Education at City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

August 21-24, 2014 Translate in the Laurentians in Estérel, Quebec

September 10-12, 2014 Discussing Translation: Art, Meditation or Professionalization? in Murcia, Spain

September 11-13, 2014 International Conference on Community Translation 2014 in Sydney, Australia

September 16-18, 2014 Technical Communication UK in Brighton, United Kingdom

September 18-20, 2014 Art in Translation 2014 in Reykjavík, Iceland

October 2-4, 2014 IV International Conference Translating Voices, Translating Regions in Durham, United Kingdom

October 23-24, 2014 2nd International TTT Conference in Bled, Slovenia

October 29-31, 2014 Localization World in Vancouver, British Columbia

October 30-November 1, 2014 TRANSLATA 2 in Innsbruck, Germany



Video Game Conferences January-October 2014

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Check out our new podcast on iTunes – LocaLAIse This!


It’s a job and a half finding all of the industry conferences and events happening around the world, so we made life easier for you by providing a comprehensive list of video game conferences and locations/dates.  We even included relevant Twitter pages so you can stay up to date on the latest conference news and updates.  You can find the conferences LAI will be attending by looking for the events highlighted in purple.

This list may not be complete and may not reflect the most recent information available.  Please check the relevant webpages to learn more about these conferences.

If there are any conferences we missed, please let us know @LanguageAutoInc.  We greatly appreciate and encourage feedback!  We also have a Twitter list of 70+ video game conferences.  Subscribe now to easily stay on top of conference updates.

Sign up for our newsletter to receive monthly conference updates.  Enjoy!


January 7-10, 2014 International CES in Las Vegas, Nevada @IntlCES

The International CES is the world’s gathering place for all who thrive on the business of consumer technologies, serving as the event for innovators and breakthrough technologies for more than 40 years. Registration opens October 1st. On-site registration fee begins January 2nd at $200.

January 22-23, 2014 Mobile Games Forum and Social Games & Virtual Goods Forum at Novotel in London @GamesForum @VirtualGoodsUK @VGSummit

The definitive global event where over 400 of the industry’s most influential stakeholders, 120 speakers (including 29 of the top 50 developers in the world, 30 sponsors and key media converge to set the agenda on the hottest issues in mobile entertainment. Attendees are able to plan meetings ahead of time through access to a meeting planner. Early bird business pass available until December 20th at £1999, conference pass at £999, thereafter £2999 for a business pass and £1299 for a conference pass. Developer pass available for 25 studios at £499.

January 23-27, 2014 Taipei Game Show in Taipei, Taiwan

Last year’s Taipei Game Show was the largest gaming event in Taiwan, with over 300,000 visitors and 400 booths. Check website for pricing information.

February 4-6, 2014 DICE Summit at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, NV @DICESummit

DICE Summit 2014 is an exclusive high-level conference, gathering the brightest and most creative minds dedicated to exploring approaches to the creative process and artistic expression. Past speakers have included Shigeru Miyamoyo, creator of Mario and The Legend of Zelda and Gabe Newell, co-founder and managing director of Valve. Active business member early bird fee available through November 8th at $2050, general fee through December 20th at $2300, and late fee through January 24th at $2575. Non-member early bird fee available through November 8th at $2775, general fee through December 20th at $3050, and late fee through January 24th at $3400.

February 7-8, 2014 Winter Nights Mobile Games Conference in St. Petersburg, Russia

The Winter Nights: Mobile Games Conference is an international mobile game development and marketing conference, with over 800 decision-markers, developers, publishers, and other professionals from over 300 companies. Early bird registration ends January 17th, with standard passes available for $250, premium passes for $350, and premium+ passes for $400.

February 11-13, 2014 Casual Connect Europe at Beurs van Berlage in Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Casual Connect is the premiere event for the casual games industry with over 6500 professionals attending Casual Connect each year. Early bird registration of €350 ($450) until January 18th, standard registration of €350 ($450). Premium pass available at an early bird rate until January 18th at €500 ($650), thereafter €575 ($750).

February 14-16, 2014 IndieCade East in New York City, NY @IndieCade

The IndieCade Festival is the only stand-alone independent-focused game event in the nation and includes festival workshops, keynotes, family-focused activities, meet-and-greets, and hands-on gameplay. All access available on site at $450, festival plus at $300.

February 17-19, 2014 Digital Kids Conference in New York City, NY @DigitalKidsCon

The 8th annual conference is a “must-attend event” for professionals engaging with children online and on digital devices. All access super early pass available through November 15th at $595, early rate through January 17th at $695, online rate through February 7th at $795, and on site at $995.

February 21, 2014 Play4Agile in Johannesberg, Germany @Play4Agile

Play4Agile provides an open playground to inspire each other and to learn how using serious games can help us achieve our goals. Sold out.

February 27, 2014 Hamburg Games Conference at Bucerius Law School in Hamburg, Germany

This conference informs attendees of how to protect themselves against hackers and cyber threats. Check website for pricing information.

March 1-3, 2014 Guangzhou Game Show at China Import and Export Fair Pazhou Compex in China  LAI will be attending!

This conference brings together worldwide professionals across the digital interactive game industry. Check website for registration and fee information.

March 10-12, 2014 GAMEON-Asia in Singapore

GAME-ON brings together researchers and games industry professionals from Asia and abroad in order to exchange ideas on techniques and research findings. Check website for registration and fee information.

March 17-19, 2014 Game Connection America at the Sir Francis Drake Hotel in San Francisco, CA @The_GameCo

Buckle up for another year of record-breaking attendance, and join more than 1800 attendees, 200 exhibitors and 250 certified buyers to engage in networking, business, and lively conversation. Check website for registration and fee information.

March 17-21, 2014 Game Developers Conference (GDC) at Moscone Center in San Francisco, CA @Official_GDC @IGFNews

Be a part of the world’s largest and longest-running professionals-only game industry event, with over 22,500 attendees, the Localization Summit, the Independent Games Festival, and the Smartphone & Tablet Games Summit. Early bird all access pass available until January 31st at $1475, main conference pass at $995, summits/tutorials/bootcamps pass at $695, expo pass at $195. Early bird regular pass available until March 12th at $1975, main conference pass at $1350, summits/tutorials/bootcamps pass at $795, expo pass $250. Early bird onsite pass available at $2100, main conference pass $1475, summits/tutorials/bootcamps pass at $895, expo pass at $250. LAI will be attending!

April 3-7, 2014 Foundations of Digital Games (FDG) in Ft. Lauderdale, FL

FDC 2014 is a focal point for academic efforts in all areas of research and education involving games, game technologies, gameplay, and game design. Registration is now closed.

April 7-8, 2014 Cloud Gaming Europe in London, UK

Cloud Gaming Europe is Europe’s largest video game network and cloud gaming event, bringing together senior level decision makers from publishers, developers, network architecture companies, and investors. The super early bird business pass is available until January 17th at £995 (£1395 thereafter), and the super early bird basic pass is available for £695 (£995 after January 17th).

April 11-13, 2014 PAX East at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center (BCEC) in Boston, MA  @Official_PAX

PAX East doubled in size each year since its start in 2004 until venue capacities were reached, and when PAX expanded from Washington to Boston in 2010, tens of thousands attended. With tournaments, concerts, a handheld lounge, and widely attended speaker sessions, there’s something for everyone at PAX. Individual day passes available at $40, three day passes available at $75.

April 14-15. 2014 VentureBeat Mobile Summit 2014 in Sausalito, CA @VentureBeat

The mobile industry’s top 180 influencers meet at the VentureBeat Mobile Summit to discuss how to accelerate adoption, engagement, and monetization. Check website for registration and fee details.

April 22-24 & 26 Games for Change in New York City @G4C

Games for Change is the largest gaming event in New York City and the leading international event uniting games for change creators with those who believe in the positive power of digital games. General admission available at $550, nonprofit/government admission available at $450, student admission available at $150.

April 23, 2014 Game Marketing Summit (GMS) in San Francisco @GameMarketers

The Game Marketing Summit (GMS) is the must-attend annual event for marketing professionals in the interactive game business. Check website for registration and fee details.

April 23-24, 2014 Festival of Games in Amsterdam, Holland @NLGD

The Festival of Games unites game development professionals, hosting a pitch and match session to connect organizations. Check website for registration and fee details.

April 23-24, 2014 Feria andina de juegos de azar/Andern Gaming Trade Show (FADJA) in Columbia @FADJA_COLOMBIA

FADJA connects game industry professionals in Columbia and abroad. Check website for registration details.

April 23-24, 2014 East Coast Game Conference 2014 (ECGC) at the Raleigh Convention Center in Raleigh, NC

ECGC 2014 is in its 6th year and remains the largest gathering of video game professionals on the East Coast. Early bird conference passes are available until December 31st at $125, and early bird premier passes are available until December 31st at $270. LAI will be attending!

April 23-25, 2014 EvoGames in Granada, Spain

This event focuses on new computational intelligence or biologically inspired techniques that may be of practical value for improvement of existing games or creation of new games, as well as an innovative uses of games to improve or test computational intelligence algorithms. Regular pass available until March 31st at 410 GBP, 535 GBP thereafter. Student pass available until March 31st at 205 GBP, 300 GBP thereafter.

April 24, 2014 F2P Summit in London @F2PSummit

The F2P Summit features a top notch line-up of speakers with vast experience in designing free-to-play games, analytics gurus, monetisation experts, and player behaviour specialists.

April 26-27, 2014 Reboot Develop 2014 in Zagreb, Croatia

Reboot connects game industry professionals across the Adriatic region through an event organized by Reboot Magazine. Attendance fee available for 85.00€.

May 5-6, 2014 Mobile Gaming USA in San Francisco @MobileGamingUSA

The video game industry’s biggest players including Kabam, SGN, Supercell, King, Glu, Unity, Perfect World and many more will come together to tackle the industry’s burning questions and provide your business with the perfect platform for mobile gaming success. Basic pass is available at $1195 until April 25th, $1295 thereafter. Business pass is available at $1495 until April 25th, $1595 thereafter. Diamond pass is available at $2995 until April 25th, $3095 thereafter. LAI will be attending!

May 7-8, 2014 NeuroGaming Conference and Expo 2014 at the Metreon in San Francisco, CA @NeuroGameConf

The NeuroGaming conference is where mind and body meet gameplay, featuring neurogame developers’ work on the latest emotional, cognitive, sensory, and behavioral technologies to create radically compelling experiences to engage and entertain gamers worldwide. Early bird full conference passes are available until January 15th at $650 (indie developer price $250), regular full conference passes are available until April 7th at $850 (indie developer price $350), and late full conference passes are available at $1150 (indie developer at $550).

May 7-8, 2014 GameHorizon at The Sage in Newcastle, UK @GameHorizon

GameHorizon aims to be Europe’s most relevant forward-looking games industry event, with a combination of inspirational sessions, debate, and networking. Tickets are available for £180 or £270.

May 14-15, 2014 Game Monetisation Europe 2014 in London

Europe’s only summit dedicated to monetization. Check website for registration and fee details.

May 15-16, 2014 DevGAMM! in Moscow, Russia @DevGamm

Mobile, online, and indie game conference for developers and publishers. Indie registration at $95, and business registration at $150.

May 16-18, 2014 INTERGAME 2014 at the Estonian Fairs in Tallinn, Estonia

A wide spectrum of gaming professionals is anticipated from across Europe. Check website for registration and fee details.

May 20-22, 2014 Casual Connect Asia in Singapore @CasualConnect

The Casual Games Association connects professionals at conferences around the world and provides educational resources and community support for those involved in creating games for the mass market consumer. Standard registration available at an early bird price of $300 until April 26th, $350 thereafter. Premium registration available at an early bird price of $450 until April 26th, $650 thereafter.

May 21-23, 2014 Nordic Game Conference in Malmö, Sweden @NordicGame

The Nordic Game Conference engages global speakers and has a pitch and match sessions to connect businesses – a combination of a targeted audience, online meeting system, and personal matchmaker. Check back for registration information.

May 25-27, 2014 Ottawa International Game Conference (OIGC) @OIGConf

Founded and managed directly by Ottawa’s fast-growing gaming industry, the events focus on building business relationships, sharing best practices and continuing to establish the city as an emerging development centre with international and local speakers, a showcase of games and technologies, and an opportunity for new talent to connect with studios. Space is limited – reserve your tickets ASAP! Early bird conference pass available at $300 Canadian dollars plus a small fee. Regular conference pass available at $400 Canadian dollars plus a small fee. Indie dev pass available at $250 Canadian dollars plus a small fee. Early bird student pass available at $175 Canadian dollars plus a small fee. Regular student pass available at $210 Canadian dollars plus a small fee. Other passes available on the OIGC website.

May 27-30, 2014 The Android Developer Conference (AnDevCon) at the Sheraton in Boston, MA  @AnDevCon

AnDevCon is the world’s largest Android Developer Training Conference, serving as a technical conference for software developers building Android apps. The full conference plus pre-conference tutorials pass is available through January 17th at $1195, February 14th at $1295, March 21st at $1345, April 18th at $1395, May 16th at $1495, and $1795 thereafter. Full conference passes are available through January 17th at $945, February 14th at $995, March 21st at $1095, April 18th at $1195, May 16th at $1295, and $1595 thereafter.

May 28-29, 2014? Game Connection Asia in Shanghai, China

Game Connection Asia features back-to-back meetings, a streamlined meeting application, and classes. Check back for registration details.

May 2014 Flash GAMM in Moscow, Russia

The conference gathers representatives of leading social and flash game companies, small studios, and independent developers. Check back for exact dates and registration details.

May 2014? GameConnection Asia

May 2014? Kontagent Konnect @Kontagent

May 2014? Russian Game Developer’s Conference (KRI)

June 2-7, 2014 Computex Taipei in Taipei, Taiwan @computex_taipei

Computex Taipei is the largest computer exhibition in Asia and the second largest in the world. Check the conference website for pricing information.

June 5, 2014 Web Game Conference in Paris, France @WebGameConf

The Web Game Conference is the conference for leaders and innovators of the web, social and mobile game industry, organized by the SNJV, France’s Videogame trade Association. Early bird registration available for €75.00 until May 1st.

June 10-12, 2014 E3 Expo at the Los Angeles Convention Center in Los Angeles, CA @E3Expo

E3 is the world’s premier tradeshow for computer games, video games, and related products, drawing tens of thousands of professionals to experience the future of interactive entertainment. Expo pass available for $795 through April 27th, $995 thereafter.

June 10-13, 2014 The Gamification Summit @GSummit2014

Over 4 days, hear from 50+ expert speakers and engage in workshops covering gamification, customer loyalty, employee engagement, and behavior science. Even earn a Certification in Gamification Design in GSummit’s limited space workshop on June 10th! Early bird conference only pass available until January 24th at $595. Early bird conference pass with Advanced Gamification Certification Workshop available until January 24th at $1795. (Special prices available for alumni.)

June 12-13, 2014 Social Casino Gaming Summit at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, NV

Discover what strategies the major offline operators are pursuing and insight into the mobile development strategies from the top 10 in the social casino space. Basic pass available at $1,095 until April 25th, $1,295 thereafter. Business pass available at $1,395 until April 25th, $1,595 thereafter. Diamond pass available at $2,895 until April 25th, $3,095 thereafter.

June 16-17, 2014 Games for Change (G4C) @G4C

Games for Change is the largest gaming event in NYC and brings together funders, NGOs, corporations, government agencies, and educators seeking to leverage entertainment and engagement for social good with leading game developers. Check back for registration information.

June 18-20, 2014 Games for Health Conference 2014 @GamesforHealth

Games for Health is the leading professional community in the field of health games, bringing together the best minds in game development and healthcare to advance game technologies that improve health and the delivery of healthcare. Tutorials & Communities Day pass available for $199. Games for Health Core pass available for $499. Games for Health Total pass available for $599.

June 23-25, 2014 Canadian Gaming Summit in Vancouver, British Columbia @CDNGamingSummit

The Canadian Gaming Summit is Canada’s premier annual conference and exhibition for gaming professionals. Gaming Delegate pass available at $745 until May 16th, $845 thereafter. Charitable Gaming Conference Delegate pass available at $445 until May 16th, $545 thereafter. Charitable Gaming Conference/Gaming Delegate pass available at $795 until May 16th, $895 thereafter.

July 8-10, 2014 Develop 2014 in Brighton, UK  @DevelopConf

Europe’s leading developer conference where the community meets to learn, share experiences, be inspired by experts and network. 1 day pass available at £285 until May 7th, £315 until June 4th, and £385 thereafter. 2 day pass available at £465 until May 7th, £495 until June 4th, £640 thereafter. 3 day pass available at £545 until May 7th, £595 until June 4th, £745 thereafter. Audio pass, indie dev day pass, and academic passes also available.

July 14-16, 2014 Social Casino Summit at the Hyatt Regency in San Francisco, CA

ScS discussions will bring established social casino leaders and those aspiring to defy them to explore the next opportunities in product design and innovation, licensing, metagames and partnerships. Super early bird rate available at $1,399 until April 25th ($1,599 for a GiGse Pass or $1,999 for a combined pass). Early bird rate available at $1,599 until May 30th ($1,799 for a GiGse Pass or $2,249 for a combined pass). Standard rate pass available at $1,699 until July 11th ($1,899 for a GiGse Pass or $2,349 for a combined pass). Onsite rate available at $1,849 until July 12th ($2,049 for a GiGse Pass or $2,499 for a combined pass).

July 17-19, 2014 Videogame Cultures & the Future of Interactive Entertainment at Mansfield College, Oxford

This inter- and multi-disciplinary conference aims to examine, explore, and critically engage with the issues and implications created by the mass use of computers and videogames for human entertainment and focus on the impact of innovative videogame titles and interfaces for human communication and ludic culture. Check back for registration information.

July 22, 2014 Serious Play Conference in at USC in Los Angeles, CA  @SeriousPlayConf

The Serious Play Conference is a leadership conference for professionals who embrace the idea that games can revolutionize learning. 3 day conference professional pass available at $550 plus a fee through May 30th. Other student and faculty passes available on conference website.

July 22-24, 2014 Casual Connect in San Francisco, California  @CasualConnect

Casual Connect is the place to learn more about an industry which entertains over a billion people each month. Standard early bird pass available at $500 until June 21st. Standard registration pass available at $575 until July 12th. Standard late registration pass available at $650 until July 19th. Premium and VIP passes also available.

July 24-26, 2014 Christian Game Developers Conference (CGDC) at Concordia University in Portland, Oregon

The Christian Game Developers Conference brings together developers interested in creating games inspired by Christianity. Check back for registration information.

July 28-30, 2014 19th International Conference on Computer Games: AI, Animation, Interactive Multimedia, Virtual Worlds & Serious Games (CGAMESUSA 2014)

CGAMESUSA is an excellent chance to network with people in your field, as it connects people intent on advancing the theory and practice of computer games development. Early bird registration for IEEE members available at $400 until April 2nd, non-IEEE members at $450. Regular registration for IEEE members available at $500 after April 3rd, non-IEEE members at $550.

July 31-August 3, 2014 ChinaJoy 2014 - The 12th China Digital Entertainment Expo & Conference 2014 in Shanghai, China  @ChinaJoyExpo

The 12th China Digital Entertainment Expo & Conference 2014 (ChinaJoy 2014), a platform for the comprehensive development of Chinese electronics products, with roughly 180,000 visitors, exhibitors, and professionals and 10,000 journalists, making it the largest trade show in China’s digital entertainment field. Checking conference page for registration information.

August 11-13, 2014 GDC Europe in Cologne, Germany @GDC_Europe

The Game Developers Conference Europe is the largest professionals only game industry event in Europe. Early bird all access pass available at 695€ until July 16th. Regular all access pass available at 795€ until August 6th. Onsite all access pass available at 895€. Independent Game Summit and student passes also available.

August 13-17, 2014 gamescom in Cologne, Germany @gamescomcologne

Over 340,000 visitors meet in Europe to talk about the game industry. Day ticket available for 29.00 EUR until August 12th. 3 day ticket available for 57.00 EUR.

August 20-22, 2014 Unite 2014 in Seattle, Washington

At Unite, you’ll learn how to mine Unity tools for more power and flexibility and get a sneak peek at upcoming product features and services. Super early bird tickets available at $300 plus a small fee. Student conference pass available at $180 plus a small fee. Training day pass available at $100 plus a small fee.

August 27-28, 2014 PAX Dev in Seattle, Washington @Official_PAX

PAX Dev is about elevating the art and creating a place to share, debate, and learn. Early bird pass available at $279. Student conference available at $229.

September 8, 2014 DMW Games – NY Games Conference in New York  @DMWEvents

Hundreds of industry leaders gather at the New York Games Conference to network, make deals, and share ideas about the future of games and connected entertainment. Early bird passes available at $299 plus a small fee until June 2nd, $599 plus a small fee thereafter.

September 13, 2014 Boston Festival of Indie Games (BostonFIG) in Boston @BostonFIG

The Boston Festival of Indie Games celebrates independent game development in New England and neighboring regions. Check back for registration information.

September 23-24, 2014 D. I. C. E Europe in London  @Official_AIAS

D.I.C.E. is an exclusive high-level conference, gathering the brightest and most creative minds dedicated to exploring approaches to the creative process and artistic expression. Early bird pass available at £1495 until August 22, and £1695 thereafter.

October 9-12, 2014 IndieCade in Culver City, California  @IndieCade

The IndieCade Festival is the only stand-alone independent-focused game event in the nation and includes festival workshops, keynotes, family-focused activities, meet-and-greets, and hands-on gameplay. $445 early-bird pass available, $495 standard pass, $525 at the door.

October 19-21, 2014 GDC China in Shanghai, China @GDC_China

With support from major local and national government entities, GDC China aims to advance the state of digital entertainment in China by incorporating GDC’s top-quality content and worldwide community reach. Alumni all access pass available at ¥4200 before July 5th, early bird pass at ¥5250, and regular pass at ¥6550. Alumni main conference pass available at ¥3200, early bird pass at ¥4000, and regular pass at ¥5000. Summit and tutorials pass also available.

October 21-22, 2014 Digital Kids Summit in San Francisco  @digitalkidscon

Digital Kids Summit gives you what you need to know to create best-selling kids digital entertainment and learning products. Early bird all-access pass available at $395 until September 19, regular pass at $495 until October 17, and onsite pass at $595.

October 29-31, 2014 Game Connection Europe in Porte de Versailles, Paris

Having added over 100 conference sessions and Master Classes to its successful formula over the previous three years, Game Connection Europe is back with a brand new edition and is looking for talented and experienced professionals interested in sharing their expertise. Conference passes available at 90€, and business passes available at 1990€.

October 31-November 2, 2014 PAX Aus 2014 in Melbourne, Vic @PAXAus

With tournaments, concerts, a handheld lounge, and widely attended speaker sessions, there’s something for everyone at PAX. 1 day pass available at $55. 3 day pass available at $150.


Check back for an updated list as more video game conference dates and details are announced!

The Regional Differences of Languages and Their Impact on Game Localization: Exploring Spanish Localization across the Americas

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Localization is one of the few parts of the production process where you know you’ve done a good job when no one ever mentions it.  A good localization isn’t intrusive and should make the player feel that no matter what language they’re playing the game in, that is the original.

-    Capcom’s blog for Dragon’s Dogma


I recently returned from DevHour, an incredible industry conference in Mexico City.  The organizers have done a fantastic job of bringing together game development talent from states across Mexico, making DevHour the largest conference specifically for game developers in Latin America.  As a result, the conference is gaining more traction from organizations abroad, this year including talks by the IGDA, King.com, YetiZen, and TechBA Vancouver.


Since very little has been written about the nuance of game localization, particularly for languages outside of Japanese and English, I interviewed Language Automation’s Latin American localization team and gamers from the region, in addition to scouring gaming forums.  This article reflects the compiled information – how linguistic differences across 20 Latin American countries affects immersion in games and how translators are able to compensate for these linguistic variations.  I’m publishing this article in follow up to my DevHour presentation about game localization, in which I spoke about the complexities of global markets and why proper localization (and culturalization) is key.


Muchísimas gracias a todos ustedes al DevHour por 2 años maravillosos a la conferencia en DF.  Espero que disfruten este artículo explicando más de las idiosincrasias de su mercado.  Si pueden escribir de sus opiniones y experiencias con los juegos localizados en español, por favor, lo escriben debajo por los otros desarrolladores aprender más de la importancia utilizar la localización de una buena calidad (¡y con espero, recibir más juegos buenísimos en español!…a menos que prefieren los traducciones como “Yo soy cola, tú pegamento.” : ) ).


A Brief Introduction to the Wide Distribution of Spanish, French, & Portuguese

My first experience with regional differences in a language for which I wasn’t native was when I spoke Spanish with a Venezuelan.  Until that time, I spoke Spanish exclusively with Mexicans, so it surprised me to hear the Venezuelan say, “¿Qué?” (“What?”) in response to not having heard what I said.  I learned very early on when speaking with Mexicans that “¿Qué?” is often considered rude in that context and that “¿Mande?” should be used instead.  When I asked the Venezuelan why he used “¿Qué?” instead of “¿Mande?,” he asked in response, “What is ‘mande?’”


When that conversation is contextualized within the field of game localization, it puts a new spin on the localization of video games for widely translated languages like Spanish, French, and Portuguese.  After all, Spanish is spoken from Mexico down to the tip of South America, Europe, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and throughout the U.S.  French is spoken within Canada, Africa, Europe, and parts of Latin America, among other locations.  While Portuguese may immediately bring to mind Portugal and Brazil, it is also spoken in parts of Africa and even Southeast Asia and India.


Due to the wide geographic spread of these languages, it isn’t as simple as merely translating an English or Japanese-based game into Spanish, French, or Portuguese.  Even if Spanish is pared down to Spanish of the Americas, translators are likely to encounter problems with in-game jokes or words that don’t easily translate across the entire region.  (For a detailed description of the differences between translation vs. full localization and culturalization, see our previous blog post “When to Forgo the Culturalization of Video Games: Contextualizing Globalization within the Mobile Marketplace.”)  Even the Harry Potter book series was localized from British English to American English!  Why do you think the American Harry Potter books refer to scotch tape, as opposed to the British “sellotape” and wastebaskets as opposed to “bollards?”


Word use vastly depends on context, such as in the instance of “qué” and “mande,” wherein “qué” is understood and used in Mexico (depending on context) but “mande” is not widely used in other countries.  There are instances in which words and phrases that make sense in other countries would throw Mexican gamers off-guard – a main component to be avoided within localization.  (After all, games are localized specifically to give international players the opportunity to experience a game like players of the original version and certainly to avoid jarring experiences that would remove the player from the gameplay experience.)  Although game companies may translate products into Spanish, French, & Portuguese for Europe and separately into Spanish, French, & Portuguese of the Americas, there are an incredible number of linguistic variations in any of these languages throughout the Americas.  So exactly how are game translators able to account for these regional differences, maintaining an immersive experience consistent throughout an entire region?


Location Does Impact the Evolution of Language!

Often, languages spoken in Europe are influenced by languages within close proximity.  In Latin American Spanish, “computadora” is used for “computer,” whereas the European Spanish equivalent evolved from the French word for computer “ordinateur,” resulting in “ordenador.”  (Microsoft Windows uses the “region-neutral term” “equipo.”)  The same phenomenon occurs in parts of the US, where even Spanish speakers who don’t know English use English terms like “park” as opposed to the longer “estacionar” (to park) or “estacionamiento” (parking), just as “mall” is frequently used in lieu of “centro comercial.”  Spanish words from the US down to South America can vary rather drastically due to the influence of the English language, historical linguistic factors, etc.  While Spanish speakers in the US, border states of Mexico, and even countries like Venezuela may use “carro” as opposed to “coche” for car, in other regions, “carro” brings to mind an old carriage, a horse-and-buggy.  Even for basic words, translation can get complicated very quickly.


Even though Canadians and people from France can speak French and understand one another, there are significant differences between their vocabulary and even grammar.  European French often anglicizes words, whereas Canadian French elects to use terms that sound more French-rooted.  For example, France uses “firewall” or “pare-feu” rather than the Canadian French “barrier pare-feu,” and France uses “serveur proxy” rather than “serveur mandataire.”  Despite the ability for Canadian and European French to communicate together (barring major differences in spoken French), a game or game support documentation translated into French but not localized for different regions may come across in a bad light, possibly putting-off a select portion of the French market.

These differences may seem minor to those with limited knowledge of these languages, but the use of region-specific words (or lack thereof) can make the difference between a localized game that is highly praised and one that people simply will not buy. 


The Impact of Linguistic Differences on Spanish Localization Efforts

If you want a clear picture of how linguistic differences can affect gameplay, take a look back at news segments regarding Microsoft’s Kinect.  The Kinect is an Xbox add-on, allowing users to play games with a motion sensor as well as with voice commands.  Just as Google Translate sometimes produces incomprehensible translations between languages, the Kinect didn’t always properly register certain dialects…or even entire languagesIn an article from 2010, El País cited the inability of the Kinect to register Spanish spoken with a Spaniard accent, as it would only have the capability of speaking English, Japanese, and “Mexican” at that point in time.  Castilian was unsupported until the spring of 2011.  Just because the Kinect could supposedly understand English, that did not necessarily mean English across the globe.  At the end of 2011, Aussies rejoiced when the Kinect could finally understand them.


To get a better sense of the broad range of games in Spanish from seamless localization to the poor, I scoured gaming forums to learn how gamers respond to localization ranging across a broad spectrum of dialects:


Halo 2 Localization

Halo 2 had the worst rap among gamers from Spain for its localization into Spanish.  As opposed to localization in Spain Spanish (Castilian) or even neutral Spanish (also referred to as universal or standard Spanish), Halo 2 was done in Mexican Spanish.  This was problematic for many reasons: Spaniards couldn’t fully enjoy – or immerse – themselves into the game as would have been possible with a Castilian localization.  Plus, Spain’s trailer for Halo 2 was actually dubbed into Castilian Spanish, leading gamers to feel they had received a false advertisement.  A trailer flawlessly dubbed into the region’s dialect inevitably caused gamers to believe the entire game would be released in their local dialect of Spanish.


While the game may have been translated into Spanish and read by native speakers, Halo 2 was not localized for the market in Spain, resulting in Halo fans of the region perceiving the game to be a subpar gaming experience.  Games are typically dubbed at least into Spanish for Spain’s market and sometimes given a separate dubbing for Latin America, due to regional preferences and what would give gamers in both regions the best possible gaming experience.  (Wouldn’t you be disappointed if the first Halo game was localized perfectly for your native language and you were led to believe the 2nd installment would be just as immersive, but suddenly, the entire cast was speaking in an entirely different accent (or dialect) with jokes that make little to no sense in your country and with words that don’t even exist in your own language?!)


While many games are currently made with the North American gamer in mind (whereas games are not always localized for Latin American gamers), let’s say Halo was available only in British English and not localized for American gamers at all (putting aside for the moment the fact that Halo is based upon the US).  While you yourself may be fairly knowledgeable about the linguistic variations and differences in humor between England and the US, there are plenty of Americans who would be entirely unaware of the meaning of British words (especially the younger gaming audience who may never have traveled abroad nor had much exposure to British English apart from Harry Potter).  In fact, here is an extensive list of words that differ between British English and American English, such as “articulated lorry” for “trailer truck,” “naughts and crosses” for “tic-tack-toe,” “The Plough” for the “Big Dipper,” “tea towel” for “dish towel,” “bonnet” for “hat,” and “torch” for “flashlight.”  If these words were used in Halo, it could entirely change the meaning of how the player perceived (s)he should try to interact with the environment.  What about in Left 4 Dead, if you were told to turn off your “torch,” as opposed to your flashlight?  While you may able to gather the intended meaning, that doesn’t mean it would be any less jarring to hear people say, “Turn off your torch!”  After all, you aren’t playing Tomb Raider, where you are using torches to light your way…you are using a pistol with a handy flashlight attachment.


World of Warcraft Localization

Some localization decisions ostracize gamers since they cater the game to one specific region or country, and some localization decisions have players rolling their eyes and frustrated over disengagement from what should be an immersive experience.  A prime example is the tendency for speakers of Castilian Spanish to prefer literal translations of proper names and places.  This resulted in the translation of Stormwind reading as a command rather than as a place, with the translation “Ventormenta” essentially reading as “Come here, storm!”  Horde didn’t receive it much better, as the translation for Undercity (“Entrañas”) reads as “Entrails!”  If you’re expecting an immersive fantasy setting, there goes that sense of immersion if your map says “Come here, storm!” or, worse yet, “Entrails!”


A tricky aspect of Spanish localization is the sheer number of words with offensive meanings in countries of the same region.  While I won’t write out the incredible list of words with double meanings here, these words are available online if you’re interested.  The sheer number of food-related words with offensive meanings in certain countries could mean that cooking-related games may end up blocked by parental controls or even outraging parents in a given country.  Are you a fan of pico de gallo sauce?  Be sure to order something else in Chile, since pico is slang for the part of a male you probably wouldn’t want to eat (with gallo meaning “rooster”).  Do you enjoy the traditional Peruvian shell stew dish?  Don’t try to order that dish in other Latin American countries, as its literal meaning is often something very different, so different in fact, that I’m not going to include it within this article.  Let’s just say you are likely to upset parents if you include this particular dish in a cooking game distributed across other Latin American countries.


Regional Differences Aren’t Just Limited to Spanish!

The idiosyncrasies of localization across other languages may seem more complicated than English simply because English doesn’t have a plethora of words with offensive double meanings across multiple countries.  However, this doesn’t mean English is devoid of linguistic and cultural variations.  In an interview with Emma Watson (Harry Potter’s Hermione Granger), she discusses the language barriers that made life in America a bit more challenging, including the time she ran around with a bloody finger, asking for a plaster (Band-Aid).  I, myself, faced communication barriers simply by moving from the West Coast of the US to the East Coast – the first time classmates were talking about getting hoagies and grinders, I thought they were talking about some kind of food that only existed out there.  Plus, when my teacher talked about going to UConn for the weekend, I was unimaginably confused, picturing a quick trip way up north to the icy Yukon.  Likewise, I assumed a trip to Washington meant a cross-country trip to Washington state as opposed to Washington D.C., as I had only ever heard the state shortened as Washington and the capital shortened as D.C.  It took a while to (in a sense) reorient myself to the English language based upon my physical location.


Beyond the vocab variations and differences based on locale, I even discovered communication difficulties based on accent.  People on the East Coast couldn’t understand my pronunciation of the word “tour” (a pronunciation difference I can’t even begin to describe), and when the word “idea” inevitably arose during classes and meetings, I mentally checked out due to the frequent addition of the “r” sound at the end of the word, effectively changing “idea” to “idear.”  (Talk about a jolt from a setting in which my attention should have been held!)  While accents and seemingly minute linguistic differences may not seem like a significant problem in theory (such as “idea” versus “idear”), this can result in a hugely jarring experience for gamers if not accommodated for correctly.


Creating an Immersive Experience across Borders

Many video games use a neutral Spanish that can feel stiff and emotionless to Latin American players.  This form of Spanish is perceived to be the best solution in encompassing broad linguistic differences, as it is the lowest common denominator of all Spanish variants and eliminates idioms and regional mannerisms.  However, since the entire point of localization is to make a player feel as though a video game was created specifically for their enjoyment, how would neutral Spanish serve as an effective solution?


Although neutral Spanish is understood by speakers across Latin America and certainly costs less than adapting a video game to every linguistic variation (since, after all, games are a business and business decisions ultimately come down to anticipated ROI), there is also a tradeoff to consider in the quality of localization: with neutral Spanish, the game is not truly being localized for given markets, which often results in a less than immersive experience.


In fact, it has been echoed by many gamers that Mexicans prefer English dialogue with appropriate Spanish subtitles, even for movies (with the exception of those for kids), whereas Spaniards prefer a full localization – Castilian-style, an accent that often sounds grating to Latin American speakers.  Perhaps this would not be the case if more games implemented localization effectively but, far too often, the Latin American market receives games with “sloppy” localization, inevitably turning players off of so-called “localized” versions (not far removed from the translations English games used to receive on NES/SNES titles…can you “proove” the justice of our culture?).  This is due to the history of Latin American games receiving subpar dubbing via voice actors without formal training.  Subsequently, gamers in Latin America are prone to instead buy American versions of games.  Martina Santoro, co-founder and director of Okam Studio in Argentina, cited both subpar Latin American voice acting and games featuring Castilian Spanish as the reason gamers in the region often buy English games from the US:


 “[Since] gamers, especially hardcore gamers, preferred to buy games in English directly from the US [when] big studios did their marketing research, the results said that Latin Americans weren’t spending money on games.  But the fact was they were; they were just spending it in the US market.”


Fortunately, voice acting in select Latin American versions of games has vastly improved, leading gamers to highly praise games such as Uncharted 3 and Killzone 3.  This is key, as The Game Localization Handbook states, “More gamers are likely to buy a game that is localized specifically for their native language […] Gamers might not purchase it if it is not in their native tongue, resulting in a direct sales loss” (8).  In fact, in LAI’s upcoming article “How to Approach Game Localization for Scandinavia,” I cite the importance of at least adding subtitles to games, even for countries with the world’s highest rates of English proficiency.  It follows that games should be localized for Latin America, given the region’s reportedly low rates of English proficiency.


Just as neither British English nor American English works for every localization project (as it greatly depends on context), neutral Spanish nor country-specific Spanish will work in every instance in which developers seek to broaden or narrow game localization.  What does that mean?  Well, in Final Fantasy XII, the English localization decision for the word marquis resulted in an ongoing headache for the localization team long after the game was released.  It was decided to use the pronunciation “mar-kwis” (as opposed to “mar-kee”).  Why would an incredible localization team such as the one at Square Enix elect to use a British pronunciation for an American release, particularly when other dialogue was voice-acted using American pronunciation?  Localizers intentionally selected the “mar-kwis” pronunciation to reflect the linguistic influence of the British in that part of the fantasy world.  While some gamers appreciated the effort after learning more about this localization decision, this ultimately resulted in a decreased immersive experience for the American audience – the complete opposite intent of localization.  This parallels the experience many Latin American gamers have when playing a game with Spain dubs:


“There are some truly great actors like those used in Uncharted, I enjoyed the Spanish version almost as much as the English even though I probably laughed at some things that were not intended as comedic just because they said them with [a] Spaniard accent.”

-        ilfito’s comment on an IGN article


Consumers in the Americas may understand and accept specific linguistic variants (such as the British use of “bloody”) and reject others (such as “marquis” in Final Fantasy), but the key to perceptive localization is to know when cultural context allows for the use of other dialects.  Localization professionals well-versed in both game culture and the target region will not only be aware of the current vocab specific to games (ex. mage, spell, raids), but they will also remain up-to-date on slang and other linguistic trends pertinent to the successful localization of your game.  Immersion into the gameplay experience can be severely stunted by those who don’t agree with stylistic choices or understand the nuances of the localization effort.


As translators behind titles such as Final Fantasy, Apollo Justice, and Vagrant Story said at PAX 2011, it’s about doing service to the original:


“You want to bring out everything that’s good about the original [and] that requires constructing a style that’s true to that world [...] Style is very language-specific [and] that can mean many different things, and of course, you’re drawing from yourself as well.”


How LATAM Translators Account for Linguistic Variations across the Region

With 20 countries in Latin America spanning numerous dialects and distinct cultures, how can one translator ensure that every single word and phrase within a game makes sense across the entire region?  After all, not even all Americans are aware of common words used in different parts of the US across the West Coast, East Coast, Midwest, and South, and Mexico alone has ten different variations of Spanish.


US vocab pop quiz! – Can you tell me what a bubbler is?  How about an alligator pear?  Where would you put jimmies?


Just how are Latin American translators able to make sure they use words that make sense to all and don’t offend a particular segment of the market?  A key resource is proper education.  If you are using a certified translation team, years of specialized training prepares that team to effectively use Neutral Spanish.  In addition, translation courses educate native speakers on the tools necessary to double-check that words aren’t too local or too broad.  Our translation team cites Google Trends as an immensely helpful tool, since it shows the popularity of the word across locales, compare its usage, etc.  However, Google Trends is currently unable to provide alternative solutions and is therefore solely limited to the insight of the translator.  By coupling research via Google Trends with tools such as Diccionario de la Real Academia Española (DREA, an online dictionary), translators are armed with the information necessary to achieve a greater understanding of whether a word works (or doesn’t work) across an entire region.  In addition, qualified translators are knowledgeable about industry-specific forums and online groups, allowing them to reach out to peers who have faced similar localization issues or are more familiar with a given part of Latin America and are able to provide possible solutions.


Why might a fully-qualified translator need to use tools like Google Trends and DREA?  Well, one major aspect of localization is using consistent terms.  That is why quality localization vendors create (or build further upon) a terminology database – a list of commonly used words and their translations within a game (or game series).  Translators are expected to maintain this consistency in order to suspend the player into immersive game worlds.  After all, it would be oddly unsettling and confusing for characters and key items to change names throughout a game or between sequels.


Imagine a character whose name was translated differently across multiple countries.  Then, imagine some translator who is supposed to localize a game featuring that character for widespread release across those different countries.  Here’s a good example: The character Strawberry Shortcake received at least three different translations in Spanish – “Rosita Fresita” in Mexico, “Frutillitas” in South America, and “Tarta de fresa” in Spain.  Hopefully, the game developer or publisher sees the value in localizing games separately for the market in Spain versus the market in Latin America, but even so, there are at least two different variations of the name to choose from.  (Fortunately, there seems to be less confusion over the necessity of localizing games into Spanish separately for Europe and the Americas, whereas there seems to be more confusion among developers for languages like French.)  Instead of arbitrarily selecting one of these possible names for Strawberry Shortcake, a qualified translator would likely consult a tool, such as Google Trends, to determine which name is most popular: 



Fortunately, the translator is able to analyze the three terms side-by-side and note the drastic difference in the popularity of these terms.  In addition, the map view clearly shows the translator which countries use which terms.  For example, these two maps show the difference between “Rosita Fresita” and “Tarta de fresa”: 



The left table shows the widespread popularity of “Rosita Fresita,” and the right table shows interest in “Tarta de fresa” localized primarily to Spain.


Both Google Trends and Diccionario de la Real Academia Española can reveal the regionalisms of specific words.  This is useful in determining which word would make the most sense across the entirety of Latin America or perhaps ensuring the use of a regional word for a character who is supposed to be from a given country.  (After all, even different states of Mexico have their own distinct, just like in the US where the use of the word “pop” or “soda” is telling in where a person is from.)  Pretty much anyone who has taken a Spanish class or two can tell you the word for “skirt” is “falda,” and it is true that term is used across Latin America.  However, in both Argentina and Uruguay, the word “pollera” may be used instead:


The word “pollera” is clearly popular in Panama, but the word doesn’t have the same meaning as it does in other countries, referring instead to the typical national dress of the country.  This is where DRAE can clear up the actual meaning of a word by country or region:



DRAE gives each definition of the word, along with the regionalisms that range from someone who raises and sells chickens to someone who transports people to the US to the definition unique to “Pan.” (Panama), where “pollero” consists of a dress with a flowing skirt and blouse.  (In contrast, Google Translate simply defines “pollero” as “poulterer” or “poultry dealer,” encapsulating none of the other definitions.)  Experienced translators are able to use respected industry tools to ensure the best possible translation is being produced.  It is far too easy for inexperienced “translators” to entirely change the meaning of a game or to even outrage parents by not taking into account regionalisms.  (Remember the food-related examples from earlier in this article?  Pico de gallo sauce is not something you’d want to order in Chile, just as the traditional Peruvian shell stew dish is best ordered only in Peru.)


What it comes down to is that translation is no easy task!  With such nuance across languages, it is essential to use certified translators, as poorly translated games run the risk of causing massive PR problems on a global scale.  Everyone loves a good laugh when it comes to mistranslations…but if you’re a game developer, you certainly don’t want people laughing at the expense of your game!  Tools like Diccionario de la Real Academia Española and Google Trends aid translators in ensuring translations won’t include fatal mistakes that may cost millions of dollars in damage control and rebranding.  Certified translators are set apart from the average bilingual through careful training, experience, and overall expertise, utilizing specialized toolsets and industry practices specific to their niche.


When quality is built into the overall localization process, you end up with phenomenal localizations such as the incredible care taken with Epic Mickey 2 and Ni no Kuni across multiple languages.  Qualified translators are able to properly utilize tools to ensure your game is the most immersive it can be for players in a given region.  One person cannot possibly know every single linguistic and cultural idiosyncrasy across 20 countries.  However, proper education and collaboration with other specialists throughout the region aid in sculpting the most appropriate translation possible.  This ultimately results in localization that transcends the translations that remove players from the gameplay experience like using “Ventormenta” for Stormwind (essentially “Come here, storm!”) or “Entrañas” (Entrails) for Undercity.  With localization (or “full” culturalization), gamers are able to enjoy the game in their language as if it were the original, resulting in higher reported satisfaction overall.


Since Latin America is reported as one of the key emerging markets in the world, game developers don’t want to ruin their reputation within the region by utilizing subpar localization efforts.  After all, the region is expected to reach $624 million in virtual good sales by 2014.  Plus, Pyramid Research states the mobile market in the region is far from saturated, with Latin America expected to reach 130% mobile penetration by the end of 2015 and Newzoo revealing this year that Latin American and the Asia Pacific have the highest regional growth in game spending.


By giving gamers a chance to fully immerse themselves into games through the appropriate use of linguistic nuance, you are allowing the player to build a deeper relationship with the game world and its characters.  The reputation you build with gamers through localization does, in fact, impact your bottom line – The Game Localization Handbook specifically states that a game not available in multiple languages directly results in a loss of sales (8).  And poor localization is even worse, as it damages the brand and makes the player more likely to actively criticize that game and future games to other potential players.  In contrast, gamers will actively praise and promote games that have stellar localization, even when they perceive the overall game to be subpar for other reasons.


Quality localization is beneficial to gamers, game developers, and the industry as a whole.  After all, we want to make games available to a broader audience on a global level, giving everyone the ability to enjoy games as if playing the original.  There are entire movements of gamers dedicated to bringing games from Japan to the US, Europe, and other markets.  If we don’t continue to advocate for games to be given quality localization (not only for ourselves but for other markets as well), business decisions will continue to be driven by perceived market demand as opposed to actual market demand.


  • Gamers – Make sure your voice is heard!  Check out Operation Rainfall and other advocacy groups dedicated to bringing games abroad.  (Disclaimer – We are now partnered with oprainfall, so we’re a bit biased!)
  • Game developers – Stay focused on building a presence for your games…but not only in English-speaking markets, or you’ll miss out on over 70% of the potential worldwide market!*  Check out the IGDA to stay connected with the industry globally.



We at LAI would like to send a special thank you out to our Latin American Spanish translation team for contributing to this article and the DevHour coordinators/attendees for teaching us more about the game industry in Mexico, as well as Rossana Triaca and Juan Rowda, plus the members of the LinkedIn group “Meet Latin American Game Developers” for their assistance, specifically the commentary and opinions provided by Alvaro Gonzalez, Mayra Donaji Barrera Muchuca, Pedro Pimenta, Ignacio Bettosini, Sergio Rosa, and Rick Castillo.


Please comment below or tweet us @LanguageAutoInc (or the author @KarinESkoog) with examples of the linguistic differences in Spanish localization efforts and across other languages.  Your examples could make it into our subsequent articles!  Check back on LAI’s blog for future additions, and ensure you stay up-to-date with new articles and our upcoming podcast by subscribing to our monthly newsletter.


* Only 27% of the world speaks English.