The job of a professional translator need not be limited to text. Have you ever heard of video game localization? Video games are not just a challenge for expert designers and developers; in order to play them all over the world, they need to be understood perfectly and tailored to specific cultural characteristics. In other words, a simple translation will not be enough if creators want their video game to be seen as a high-quality product.
What is video game localization?
The technical concept behind video game localization entails the adaptation of digital products — like a video game or an app — to the new market where they are to be distributed.
Obviously, this includes translating menus, dialog, and other texts, but, above all, it means making it possible for a user to understand the game or mobile app perfectly in their own language.
Aspects of video game localization
The success of this process can only be guaranteed when the following factors are taken into account:
Technical localization, or adapting the software and programming to the codes of the respective territories. This is a purely technical task.
Secondly, there is cultural and linguistic localization, the task of a translator, which includes everything from adapting the names of characters to translating the instructions.
Skills of a video game localizer
Localizing a video game culturally and linguistically is no simple task. A high-quality product needs to take into account the cultural conventions of the respective country, in addition to the strict translation process. This can be more or less complex depending on the platform hosting the product and its inherent complexity.
In order for this process to be truly successful, a range of factors need to be considered:
Mastering English is a must, as it usually serves as a bridge language between the source and target languages.
It is also fundamental to have an in-depth knowledge of the world of video games in order to determine which vocabulary is necessary at any given time or in any given context.
Properly navigating the world of video games also allows the localization professional to avoid problems that interfere with the development of the game, such as the use of capital letters or italics in certain programming.
Likewise, a good localizer will know when to move beyond the text and employ maximum creativity when translating.
Last but not least, a professional localizer needs to remain faithful to the essence of the game, no matter how far they deviate from the texts to make sure it is understood.
In short, a video game is much more than an entertainment product we play to have a little fun; in order to really enjoy it, a video game localizer will have had to translate it from its original language and, above all, tailor its characteristics to our society and context.