In 1972, Magnavox Odyssey, the first video game, was launched. It was run by connecting to your television and had just a few simple game options. Even so, it was a massive success at the time. When looking at today’s video games, precisely 40 years after the release of the first one, we see enormous progress. The visuals are so realistic that playing video games feels like watching a movie. The companies and studios aim to provide their customers with the most authentic experience possible. One essential element required for this is game translation.
Game translation does not necessarily mean translating all the written texts. When a game opens up to a new market, adapting the game to the culture of the player is essential to provide customers with an authentic experience. The translator providing the game translation service has much more responsibility than simply transferring the texts in the game to the target language. The person providing the game translation service almost rewrites the game according to the customer’s profile in specific patterns.
For these reasons, the translator must also master the game. In other words, the translator must know every detail of the game’s story, characters, and atmosphere. Unfortunately, many studios do not share the game with translators for confidentiality reasons. In fact, the texts in the game are mostly shared with translators in an Excel file. This can often lead to a major disconnect when it comes to context. Therefore, it is invaluable for the translator to play the game from beginning to end to make the most successful game translation possible.
Things to Consider When Translating Games
There are some essential points that translators who want to enter this sector and provide game translation services should consider.
Consistency: Be attentive to using the same terminology throughout the translation. For example, you should use the name of an object the same way you translated it throughout the game and ensure consistency.
Instructions and Style Guide: When you receive a game translation project, be sure to ask the game studio if there are specific instructions and a style guide.
Game Tag: Be sure to get detailed information about the game. You must know the target audience or the genre, as these play a significant role in the game translation process. For example, if you are translating a game for a particular era, it is necessary to use the correct language according to this context.
Units: Be certain you are using the units of measurement valid in the country where the studio will launch the game. For example, when opening up to the US and UK markets, time and date units must be adapted to the target audience.