María Palomares Tarí
BEYOND LANGUAGE: HOW VIDEO GAME LOCALIZATION IS PLAYED
With more than 2.5 billion video gamers across the globe, gaming has become undoubtedly a gripping domain. As a result, the demographic of gamers is booming and reaching every corner of the world.
This industry development has caused great demand for localized versions (suitable for a particular country or area) of games to capitalize on global markets.
While it is quite a simple-sounding concept, video game localization is a complex process that encompasses various linguistic and technical steps that should be carried out by professional localizers.
Let’s take a closer look at it!
Localization for the gaming industry is the process of adapting a video game to a target locale’s language, legal and regional format requirements, as well as cultural sensitivities, so that the users feel that the game was made for their particular region.
To that end, it is necessary to translate not only the language but also various different types of materials. These are technical elements (code, text operations); marketing elements (e.g. posters, packaging, website); and the game’s story elements (i.e. all the player sees and hears in the screen) -- all while maintaining the theme and tone of the game’s storyline. The process also includes altering portions to accommodate differing format requirements (currency, date, etc.).
Game localization also encompasses other additional services, such as subtitling, voice-over (voice recording), localization of animations, DTP (making graphics ready to be printed, especially instructions and manuals), graphics and Flash application.
Translation alone, on the other hand, may end up in losing hidden meanings or metaphors – hence why localization can make a big difference!
Culturalization and Internationalization
Proper video game localization cannot be accomplished without two processes that occur simultaneously: culturalization and internationalization.
Firstly, it is crucial for games to be sensitive to the target market’s cultural belief systems, religions, history, ethnicity and geopolitical reinforcements, and here’s where content culturalization takes place: it will allow gamers around the globe to engage with the game content without cultural disruptions.
Simultaneously, it is important that every game is internationalized, that is, adapted internationally without design and content alterations. The main idea of this process is to eliminate the existence of any element in the code base that differs by locale, so that the game localization can take places seamlessly.
Carried out properly by the right professionals, localization is an effective way to widen the market and reach more gamers!
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