Video Game Localization: More than Creative Translation
The video game industry saw its biggest year to date in 2020, with an estimated market value of 159.3Bn and an expected 7.7% annual growth rate by 2023 according to Newzoo’s figures. Suffice to say, localization is becoming increasingly relevant, not only for game developers and publishers but for gaming and language enthusiasts around the world.
In the last few years we have watched as new university courses, online webinars, and industry events, such as Game Global, have heightened their focus on video game localization. As a consequence, video game localization is getting more standardized and even those who are not familiar with game development and localization are starting to see that there is a lot more to localizing games than a bunch of geeks translating their favorite game into their native language.
While it’s true that video game localization entails a lot of translation of the creative text, a true expert knows that there are several other critical elements. Below our Game Localization Master Class teacher, Francesca Sorrentino has drawn up the top five things to keep in mind as a localization expert when approaching video game localization.
Video game localization is a process and each phase is important
Usually, those who approach video game localization come from a linguistic background and are primarily focused on translation, suffering together with the linguists who translate their favorite games and are at the forefront of a never-ending battle for quality. The truth is, translation is only part of the localization process. Depending on your position within your localization team or the broader game development team, it might not be your first priority.
Pre-production is key
In order for the localization process to be successful, it needs to be thoroughly planned and diligently budgeted. Have you ever heard of internationalization (I18n) and culturalization? They are the bread and butter of any localization manager who works closely with the game team. Preparing the game code for localization and analyzing the markets you want to localize for are only a few of the steps involved in the pre-production phase.
To QA or… to QA? There is no question!
Quality Assurance (QA) is one of the most important phases of the localization process and should never be skipped. During QA, testers get the chance not only to play the game (one of the biggest perks of being in this industry!) but to see the localized text and audio in context and help deliver the best quality of the product.
Know thy (desk) neighbor
As in any other process or business relationship, communication should never be neglected. No matter where you are in the video game localization chain, it is important to be aware of what is happening around you: knowing what your colleagues in the product team or marketing department do will give you more context to better understand the game and the purpose of your job, saving you from a lot of unnecessary (and frustrating) emails with needed last-minute changes.
Technology is here to help
No, machine translation (MT) won’t be the end of the translator species! It must be embraced as part of a suite of productivity tools to make our lives easier and improve quality across the board. Localization technology is constantly evolving, with more gaming companies adopting the latest content management systems (CMS), translation management systems (TMS), and project management tools.
If you want to know more about the video game localization process, sign up for our next Game Localization Master Class.
About the Author
Francesca Sorrentino has been in the video game localization industry since 2010, covering various roles: from marketing intern and translator for online games at Wooga and Bigpoint, to Senior Multilingual Localization Specialist at Electronic Arts managing large, multilingual titles such as FIFA, to Program Manager for the Games department at Alpha CRC.
Having experienced both the client and the service provider side of the industry, Francesca recently decided to become a freelance translator and consultant and is currently working as Conference Manager for Game Global, a conference dedicated to video game localization and QA, which is continuing to give her the chance deepen her knowledge about processes, challenges and best practices in the gaming industry.
Francesca holds a B.A. in Translation and an M.A. in Conference Interpreting, which she obtained in Italy, and has spent the last 10 years living and working first in Germany and now in beautiful Barcelona, Spain.
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