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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Mistranslations in Practice – A Short Story

This blog post is a little different than the others.  In this entry, you will read the tale of a gamer embarking upon an adventure, an adventure through a game unlike any other…a game riddled with odd happenings and strange occurrences, a game that takes you back to games of ancient times, a game that transforms the gamer’s entire gaming experience, a game that…well, you’ll see…

 

Soda – check.  Chips – check.  Controller – That’s a given.  Shoot, where are the batteries…“Mom!!!”

Okay, now I’m ready.

The start menu pops up – a fantasy world unfolds before you, complete with elves in a wooded, magical land.  (You know it’s magical because of the fairy dust shimmering through unfurling fog.)  A white, Asian-style dragon soars across the landscape, small in the distance.  The music is a symphonic masterpiece, beautifully constructed to convey a sense of serene majesty, with the rich sound of violins and the lilting melody of flutes resonating together.

Suddenly, the music crackles like an old radio being tuned, and chanting overshadows the tranquility of the scene.  “Cha b’urrainn do bhàrd, thuirt thu, a dhualchas no a thìr a roghainn, air neo a chànain…”  A word appears, blinking on the screen “STRAT.”  The symphony overtakes the chanting for an instant, and then it continues, “…ach du choir gu robh an dìlseachd a b’àirde’s a bu shàir a bh’aige da chogais fhèin a-mhàin …”  The sound cuts out, and the screen goes dark.  The only visible object is the word “STRAT” blinking on the blackened screen.
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