The world of video games is creative beyond imagination; quite literally so! The PlayStation, Game Boy or even a smartphone is like a portal that opens into an astonishing universe. But what is most astonishing is that irrespective of country, creed, colour or language, gamers the world over are playing the same games.
How is that possible?
Translation and video game localization make it possible for these electronic delights to rule over the gaming world’s varied populace.
Video game localization
Video game software and hardware need to be transformed to make them accessible to new regions.
Consider the following names: Masaya Matsuura, Hironobu Sakaguchi, Satoshi Tajiri, Hideo Kojima, and Shigeru Miyamoto. Do you know that these five Japanese gentlemen are among the top ten video game designers? Games like Metal Gear and the all-consuming Pokémon are universal phenomena because of the magic of video game translation and localisation.
The why, when, how of localization
Economic factors drive decisions to localize games. The by-word is profits. Considerations of financial viability dictate how much to localize.
The first level is to avoid localisation altogether. This is possible if the makers feel that a game has a potential market in a new locale with no changes.
The second level is to just localise the packaging and manuals but not the game itself. This is possible if the target market has a fair
understanding of the original language or if the game does not carry much text or story.
The third level involves translating game text while retaining the original audio files, thus making the game understandable in another language without the additional cost of hiring actors for voice-overs. Sub-titles will help the game along.
The final level is the Big Job of localisation where ALL the game’s assets will be translated and localised- box packaging, game text, manuals, graphics, audio, etc.