How Video Game Translation Differs From Other Types of Translation

At Language Automation, Inc. (LAI), we focus specifically on the translation and localization of video games and ensure all of our translators have experience within the video game industry.  Why is this important?

Well, have you ever tried to explain a video game to your parents, grandparents, significant other, anyone who isn’t a gamer?  Assuming both of you are fluent speakers of the same language, as soon as you launch into World of Warcraft jargon, you may as well be speaking an entirely different language.  

For example, in the comic above, this avid gamer is screaming about a graveyard, mobs, runs, Taurens, and tanks.  Now, unless your mom is leveling her own toon in WoW, you may as well be speaking Martian.  And, chances are, unless your translator’s accreditation program had a class focused specifically on the translation of key vocabulary in MMORPG’s (unlikely), your run-of-the-mill translator will have no idea how to translate words like “pull,” “mob,” “run,” “Tauren,” and “tank,” much less the host of other WoW-centric words including “rez” and “drop.”  By now, WoW has a rather extensive library of words used for the various language packs available to players, but many games don’t have that luxury.
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Insights Learned from Indie Game Developers in Latin America & the Middle East

Introduction

For nearly 20 years, Language Automation, Inc. (LAI) has been tracking global video game markets in our mission to make games accessible to a wide array of players through our extensive network of worldwide game translators. While statistics and reports provide fantastic overviews and targeted data for these markets, we set out to gain a more detailed and deeper understanding of regional players and their perspective of the industry at the local level.

Through research and analysis of game industry trends around the world, we discovered gaps in game development that a handful of game developers and publishers are now filling – the creation of culturally-sensitive games that maintain an extraordinary level of local relevance – a.k.a. culturally-focused and regionally-inspired games. While large players in the US, Europe, and Asia focus on the development of games that will achieve high sales in proven markets, game creators in developing regions of the world see a need for a new type of game, that addresses the lack of games made specifically for their regions – regions in which individuals pour more money into gaming and have tremendous market potential.

To paint a fuller picture of the potential of video games in Latin America and the MENA region (Middle East & North Africa), we will first provide an overview of the two markets. (This overview is also outlined in the introductions of our two video interviews. Please check out our interview with Mexican developer Phyne Games and our interview with Lebanese-based developer Game Cooks). We will then share with you the insights of organizations that were largely successful due to their targeting of developing regions via culturally-focused and regionally-inspired games, and finally, we will provide highlights of our new interview series in which we speak with game developers that create games in this emerging genre.
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What’s the Video Game Market Like in the MENA Region? Check out our EXCLUSIVE Interview!

New this month is an interview we conducted with Lebanese-based game developer Game Cooks.  After describing the state of the video game market in the Arab region, we sat down with Lebnan Nader, General Manager at Game Cooks, to learn more about the company’s regionally-inspired games and his take on MENA gamers.

We discussed topics critical to developing a deeper understanding of the cultural nuances and preferences of local players.  Central to the discussion was the importance of localization and the need for culturally-sensitive video games.

INTERVIEW BELOW!  Some hot topics include:

  • How much of your games were influenced by the Arab region, and how have players responded to the integration of Arab elements?
  • What music was selected for Birdy Nam Nam and Run for Peace, and why was that music chosen?
  • What is the video game market like in the MENA region, and how has it evolved?
  • Are other game developers in the region creating culturally and regionally-focused games, and would you like to see more developers within the MENA region and around the world create culturally-focused games?
  • What do you think about the way in which AAA developers portray Arabs and Africans in video games?
  • Do you believe MENA gamers prefer locally-produced games or games made abroad and then localized for your region?

Check out our three part video, and be sure to sign up for our company newsletter to stay up-to-date with future interviews, blog posts, and industry conferences & updates!

Part 1: An Overview of the Video Game Market in the Arab World

Part 2: An Introduction to Lebanese-Based Developer Game Cooks and the Integration of Arab Game Elements

Part 3: An In-Depth Discussion of MENA Gamers, Local Preferences, Regionally-Inspired Games, and AAA Developers’ Portrayal of Arabs and Africans