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The Key Challenges for Gaming Translations and Localization Strategies

Localizing the languages used in games is necessary if the title is to be marketed to an international audience. During the last decade, many publishers and developers have learned how important quality localization which is not easy to complete.

The biggest challenges for game localization

Localization as a strategy affects both the technical and linguistic processes of a translation. Its aim is to overcome the greatest translation challenges.  Video game localization is difficult because of the following aspects: 

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  • trying to sound truly native in all the targeted languages;
  • brevity;
  • some things just can’t be translated accurately;
  • colorful language is difficult to translate so that it sounds natural in the targeted language such as slang, humor, sarcasm, swearing, etc.
  • the use of appropriate pronouns;
  • the correct use of intonation;
  • getting culture, bias, and perspective just right;
  • expansion of the text.

1. Sounding like a true native in all languages

Languages are a complex system of letters and words and there is often a lot of variation in word use and interpretation. When a story is written in one language it is often hard to convert it precisely into a second language and sound like a native. 

2. Brevity

Brevity is trying to say everything that’s required in a small number of words. Not many speakers and writers are even able to master this skill in their native language so when translating from one into a second language is even more difficult. Accuracy of a translation is often lost if the words used are fewer than would accurately translate the words used in the source language.

3. Some things won’t translate

Video games are notorious for producing untranslatable content. This is more obvious when translating from English to Japanese where the Japanese language owns many meaningful phrases that just don’t exist in the English Language. Because there are no direct translations for many phrases more words may need to be used if the right meaning is to be conveyed. 

4. The Use of Colourful languages Such as Sarcasm, Humour, and Slang

There is a lot of colorful language in video games some of which have no direct translations. When localizing video games a creative approach is required in the translation process. Literal translations of humor, slang, and sarcasm are often difficult to achieve.

5. The  Pronoun

Pronouns can bring about difficulties when translating as languages like Spanish build entire sentences based on the right use of pronouns. When translating into Japanese or Chinese languages the absence of pronouns also makes accurate translations difficult to achieve.

6. Intonation

An intonation mistake commonly made in a gaming translation focuses on the use of the word “please” in prompts. For instance, commonly seen are prompts such as “Please, press [the button]” in English but in many other languages adding a translated version of “please” would sound unnatural.

7. Culture, bias, and perspective

A video game is filled to the brim with informal language, uniquely created characters, and stories that commonly include quite subtle cultural nuances, biases, and perspectives. When translating these features it can be quite a challenge as sometimes offense, confusion, or misinterpretation can take place.

8. Text expanding

When translating a text from one language into another the translation is often shorter or longer than the original text.

When game localizing takes place, text expansion can cause a problem because it could break a user interface and layout or even occupy too much of the screen’s space. The simplest way to handle this is to write and design a game that considers text expansion.

9. Solving the Challenges of Game Localisation

The easiest way to solve the challenges is to formulate a localization strategy before designing and developing the game starts. This can be achieved by seeking out a professional games localization service or agency which has the capability to localize a game effectively and minimize the problems faced when translating and localizing a game that contains a lot of untranslatable languages. The games industry has learned how important it is to have professional translators who have accumulated translation experience in the game industry.

 

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