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Localizing Video Games is fun

The ever growing demand for latest video games and subsequent fun associated with it has resulted into importing games from different countries to cater to requirements of the local population. The entire process of importing games for a particular region and then making it suitable for natives has made the task both challenging and enjoyable for translators and interpreters. Before going into details, we need to understand what localization of video games is. For a layperson, it may seem to be simply a translation of text in a video game, but actually, it is a lengthy and multi-stages activity. Apart from translating the text, it may involve changes in art assets, recreating audio and modifications and alterations in packaging and manuals. Sometimes, a whole section of the game has to be omitted considering cultural sensitivities and geographical locations. Additions and deletions are part and parcel of translation and localization process which is done to make it relevant for locals. The entire process of localization revolves around the fact that it must suit the local requirements and the player must not feel alienated while playing the game.

Now, where is the fun involved in localization of video games? To understand it, you need to imagine how it is going to be if you had not driven a car yourself and you are assigned a job of drafting driving manuals and instructions for drivers. The same goes with localization experts and translators. If one has to make it an enjoyable experience, one has to love playing video games, and it should come from within. You cannot compel someone to drive pleasure out of video games and then do the job. Hence, for a natural game lover, it is more fun than work to first get a feel of the game and then make necessary changes to suit the requirements. To do so, one has to play and win through each session of the game till the very end to understand the game. The translators, who are not in love with video games and do it just like another job, may often find it tough to break through the translation. Only an enthusiast gamer can understand the particular terminology and minute details which add to the fun of playing a video game. The localization expert, who lacks in background and knowledge of video games, might feel like a person as Alice in Wonderland.

As a localization expert, you need to know how the story or concept of a particular game is taking shape and evolving. To reach to the next level, you might have played and saved the initial level on numerous occasions, and eventually, you reach final stages of the game. All this makes the process of localization of video games a thrilling one for the expert. A localization expert does not merely translate the text; he or she has to research a lot to understand the local dialect and vocabulary to make the end users feel as if the game is developed for them only. One needs to give utmost care and attention to the fact that even an iota of suspicion or disbelief in the mind of the user about the game, may spoil all the efforts; and investment in localization may go in drain. No matter how simple or minute the error is, the player may find it very disruptive and a sense of non-belonging might prompt him to discontinue. Thus, the job of an expert is very challenging and demanding one to meet the end-users expectations and keep him hooked on to the game all the times.

Localization of a game depends on a lot many factors which weigh heavily on the decision of whether to localize a particular game or not. Video game industry has attained a never before success internationally and is generating millions in revenues for game developers and producers.  To maximize the return on investment, producers are increasingly making all out efforts to reach to the game lovers across the globe. In this endeavor, they turn to the localization experts to get the job done for them.  It is way beyond a process of getting the rights to the game and then translating it into local language or for that matter, in English. Economics and financials involved in localization process play a major role in deciding about it. It makes little sense if the game is not forecasted to do well in overseas markets and the producer is still going through localization. The gaming market is huge and growing by the day. The producers these days develop the games keeping a tab on the global market. The overall rating and popularity of the game are often taken into consideration before determining it. 

An interesting aspect involves the cultural sensibilities and lifestyle of the local population for whom the game is being localized. There are some examples of female characters of the games, developed in Western countries, skimpily dressed and posturing suggestively, raising objections and concerns of natives in different countries. You can refer Dead or Alive Xtreme 3, a fighting game where the women are depicted this way. The producer of the game had to cancel the plan of localization of the game. Sometimes, the producer opts to change the characters in question or else simply delete the section of the game to the satisfaction of target market. Another instance is there which compelled producers to change the title of Japanese video game “Pac-Man” which translates into “Puck Man” for Americans. The title had to be changed due to its proximity of vulgarity.  

The multiple challenges faced by localization industry may sometimes make it next to impossible to localize a game. It may range from linguistic-cultural barriers to regulations imposed by civilian governments. Here, the role of game enthusiasts comes into play. They take the things in their hands and indulge into translation and localization process unofficially. It may not be as good as executed by industry experts and professionals, but it adds to the satisfaction of the player and the enthusiast who does it out of joy and adventure. The fun part involved in the whole process remains at center stage for the amateurs, and they drive the satisfaction out of it. The bottom line is, it is the fun and mental satisfaction which drive localization experts and translators to keep doing the job for us. Moreover, as long as they are enjoying and loving it, we have little to complain, and we shall continue exploring the wonderful world of video games. 

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