How to localize a game: when translation is not enough
Game localization is the new challenge of videogames developers. Videogames are a form of art and, as such, they need to communicate their message in the easiest and most authentic way possible in order to be sure to be understood by the audience. Thus, before even starting the development of a videogame, often, is better to understand the reference market or markets. Once decided is crucial to take care not only of the lexicon and the words to be used, but also to the type of gameplay to be developed. Success of a videogame project, indeed, mostly relies on the involvement level of the gamers. And that involvement is hard to obtain if the gamer is unable to understand the game and the message it tries to pass.
Localizing a game means much more than mere translation from one language to another. Localize a game means being able to adapt and mold it trying to grasp the culture, the ways of saying and the habits of the nations where the game will be published. Companies in this sector know the importance of localizing their product in the best way possible mainly focusing the attention on the details and on the study and analysis of the various territories. Among developers and translators there should be great synergies which needs to be effective and complimentary. It is crucial that one of the people taking care of translation and/or dubbling, gets involved in the development since the beginning. This aims at having the translators have an idea about the game and gameplay. Usually, however, it drives to better results if the interpreter does not just take care of translation, but also contributes to the modeling of the gameplay, with the aim of adapting it to the preferences of the nations in which the game should be localized.
Important changes might be required on game’s graphic when referring to the Asian market. In China, for example, they tend to prefer bigger images full of light effects that have to appear after certain actions are performed or some in-game goals are reached.
Other issues are payment methods, expecially in the mobile gaming field. Before releasing the game, it is important to watch for different monetization systems depending on the country in which the game should be released. For example in Asia and South America users are not used to pay using credit card, thus it would be necessary to adopt alternative monetization methods which allow the developer to have a return as, for example, advertising or paying through telephone billing.
To conclude, localizing a game is not a simple and direct task of translation, but is part of the game and is core to the game’s success. Because of the cure needed for a game to be developed and distributed in the various countries it is possible to refere to it as a true piece of art.
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