What is the process of game localization like in reality?
Hello again! Last time, we’ve talked about what a localization is and what role it plays. Today I will explain in detail the process of localization. Of course, each game translator has their own preferred methods of translation, which can be radically different, but the basic structure remains unchanged. Some people prefer different software or sources, but the main framework of the process is the same. Let me present it to you.
What does the translator have to know when preparing to localization?
The game localization process starts with preparations. Every computer game is different, so first of all, the translator has to know what kind of product they will be working on, in order to translate the game appropriately. Each piece of information is crucial; from the target group to the aim of the product. For instance, if the translator is localizing a video game, they have to know the genre, content rating, time and place of action and the main events in the course of the game plot. Thanks to this information, the translator gains basic, yet important knowledge, allowing to localize the game better. Without this knowledge, the translator might make mistakes, like historically mismatched terminology.
Do professional game translations require a glossary?
The next step of localization process, after learning about the product, is to make a glossary. The glossaries are used in all types of translations, and this time it’s no different. It’s not an obligatory element, but if a translator decides to use it, it can help in improving the process and making it easier. It is worth checking if the game has had any prequels or other editions. If it had, it is important to continue the previously established terms and place and character names, so the players feel that the game is the part of the same universe. By gathering the key terms, the translator is able to maintain consistency and avoid confusing the player. Additionally, a glossary saves a lot of time, because the translator can just peek into it instead of searching for the right translation each time.
The translation part - what is it about?
Now it’s time for the translation itself. The translator has to translate the game in a clear and precise way, sticking to language rules, so that the outcome sounds correct and natural for the native speakers of given language. Otherwise, the localized version will look artificial and possibly confusing. At the same time, you have to focus on keeping the right language register. Another important element of a good translation is using effectively the right terminology. The localization process includes getting to know the topic, after all.
The difficulties depend on the type of the game
For instance, if you’re translating a game which takes place during the Second World War, you have to use appropriate terminology. Otherwise, if someone interested or knowledgeable about the topic notices your mistakes, they might complain about how the game is inaccurate or how the localized version ruins the experience. And you want to avoid such situations. The right localizations requires really diving into the topic.
One important element of the localization process
A part of the localization process is deciding on which elements to leave unchanged and which to adapt to the target country’s culture. In this case, although it’s not always possible, it is valuable to establish contact with the game creator. In case of any dilemmas or ambiguities, you can consult the author on your choices to verify them and receive precious feedback. Furthermore, the translator should always be careful not to translate any technical elements of the game, such as code fragments, or the game won’t work correctly.
What does localization verification look like?
Having finished the translation, it is time to verify if the results are satisfying. It’s best to do it day or two after finishing the draft. This step is extremely important and should be done very cautiously. You have to check for and delete any possible grammar and punctuation errors. You should also make some changes to the text if you notice any content-related mistakes or find a better way to translate a certain fragment. Sometimes a group of localization testers helps in looking for mistakes.
The summary of the game localization process
Now you know what the game localization process looks like. You can easily notice that the process isn’t so complicated, but rather time-consuming. It requires a profound knowledge of the product’s characteristics, as well as of both language you’re working on. Game translations require thus deep understanding of the game’s theme. A crucial element of game localization is maintaining consistency of terms, continuing decisions made in prequels.
Next time, we will look into software which proves helpful in the process of game localization.
If you are interested in having your game or program localized, click here to learn more about our localization services.
Original text: Sebastian Ludyga
Translation: Kacper Kacperski