Learning Languages with Video Games!

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!
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The Dangers of Over-Localization

Most game developers and publishers understand the importance of reaching gamers abroad by localizing game content.  Fortunately, this increased attention on game localization has opened gaming up to a broader audience, so that people around the world can experience games as if playing the original.  For the most part, game localization has vastly improved since its origins in the games of old, i.e. “I am Error.”  (View this article to learn about the current development trend of producing incomprehensible in-game text.)

If you follow gaming articles and forums, you’ll hear gamers lament about areas they perceive to be missed opportunities for localization in their favorite games, pinning down specific phrases that could have been translated differently or character names that do not directly match the original meaning.  While gamers continue to shine a spotlight on localized game content, developers and publishers work to achieve the level of quality gamers expect from localization.  Oddly enough, this spotlight has also led to a unique phenomenon in localization – the practice of over-localization.
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Is Google Translate Causing Developers to Revert Back to Mistranslations from the Days of the NES and SNES?

You may think back upon games on the NES and SNES and remember – with amusement – the first time you came across mistranslations like “All your base are belong to us” and “I am Error.”   There are an extraordinary number of YouTube videos noting the lack of time and resources game studios used to devote to game translation.  Many a gamer has come across these mistranslations and likely said something to this effect, “What were they thinking?!” (to quote the Angry Video Game Nerd).

While established game developers and publishers now dedicate the time and resources necessary to solid translation, tools like Google Translate have given rise to a new sector of poorly translated games – games from indie developers looking for the “quick-fix” solution to global game markets.  I’ve written blog posts on this topic before, and I’ll likely write on it again, as I continue to encounter increasingly larger numbers of game studios using tools like Google Translate at incredibly high rates, at significant risk of actually driving gamers in global markets from playing their games.  By using translation tools at excessive rates (and more as a translation program than a mere tool), game studios could likely end up in a new series of YouTube videos by gamers who find your translation just as amusing as English translations of the NES/SNES days – “Conglaturation!!!  You have completed a great game.  And prooved the justice of our culture.”

 

Given that over 50% of worldwide game revenue comes from markets outside the United States, it is crucial for mobile game developers not only to make their games accessible on multiple platforms but also to gamers of different linguistic markets.  Would you take your Unity code that you developed for your iPhone game, simply use it to build an Android version, and release it – as is – for the Android market?  No!  Of course not!  With the varying interfaces, input methods, and other capability differences between Android models, it is essential to test for bugs and correct them, adapting your game to various Android devices.  The same is true with releasing your games for foreign markets.  If you don’t take the time to adapt your game to other audiences, you run the risk of your game simply not working within those markets.
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The Top 5 Myths & Facts about Video Game Translation & Localization: What Every Game Developer Needs to Know (Part 4 of 5)

Fact: Over 50% of worldwide video game revenue comes from markets outside the US.

 

Despite the importance of making games available in a variety of languages for gamers across global markets, translation and localization is still a source of confusion for many developers.  Due to the number of easily-avoided issues encountered by game translation and localization companies on a regular basis, we realized the value to the entire development community to dispel common myths regarding the localization process, thereby perpetuating a network of informed developers to ultimately enhance decisions regarding game translation, producing a global library of games with quality localization.

 

Part 1 taught you that switching localization vendors can have a negative impact on your company’s financial statement.  Part 2 revealed the quality issues that distinguish one vendor from another, and part 3 showed you how to avoid paying threefold unnecessarily by effectively using prior work.  In this post, we cover one of the most common mistakes made in video game translation and discuss how it, too, can have a significant impact on the quality of your game.  Be sure to check back this Friday, November 16th, for Myth #5.
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The Top 5 Myths & Facts about Video Game Translation & Localization: What Every Game Developer Needs to Know (Part 3 of 5)

Fact: Over 50% of worldwide video game revenue comes from markets outside the US.

 

Despite the importance of making games available in a variety of languages for gamers across global markets, translation and localization is still a source of confusion for many developers.  Due to the number of easily-avoided issues encountered by game translation and localization companies on a regular basis, we realized the value to the entire development community to dispel common myths regarding the localization process, thereby perpetuating a network of informed developers to ultimately enhance decisions regarding game translation, producing a global library of games with quality localization.

 

In part 1, you learned how switching localization vendors can have a negative impact on your company’s financial statement, and in part 2, we discussed the core quality issues that set one vendor apart from another.  Thus far in our “Top 5 Myths & Facts” series, we have covered

-          Myth 1: A translation is a translation is a translation – In the long run, cheaper is better for my company’s bottom line, so I should always be searching for vendor alternatives.

-          Myth 2: Translation vendors are all built the same.  There’s no difference in one agency versus another.

This brings us to Myth #3:
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The Top 5 Myths & Facts about Video Game Translation & Localization: What Every Game Developer Needs to Know (Part 1 of 5)

Fact: Over 50% of worldwide video game revenue comes from markets outside the US.

Despite the importance of making games available in a variety of languages for gamers across global markets, translation and localization is still a source of confusion for many game developers and publishers.  Due to the number of easily-avoided issues encountered by game translation and localization companies on a regular basis, we realized the value to the entire development community to dispel common myths regarding the localization process, thereby perpetuating a network of informed developers to ultimately enhance decisions regarding game translation, producing a global library of games with quality localization.

 

 

LAI – Obliterating Translation Errors for Nearly 20 Years.

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