How to Become a Video Game Localizer?
Talking about professional video game localization may sound like Greek to us. Even more so because the basic skills to work in this field are not something everyone knows. In this post, we are going to discuss these basic skills and solve some of the doubts that may arise: if we need to know how to code, if you have to be a gamer, what languages we need to know, how to become a professional localizer, and so on.
Year by year, the offer of video games is growing and varying for all types of audiences. As a result, the number of video games being produced and subsequently translated is increasing. In fact, more and more people, regardless of age or gender, are investing their time in gaming — mostly during the last months with the pandemic.
Due to this boom, the demand for professional translators specialized in video games has grown. Similarly, this field could be one of the most attractive for new younger translators who have spent several moments of their childhood or adolescence enjoying and laughing while playing a video game alone or with friends.
But how to become a good video game localizer? Read on to learn:
I. Be Accurate to the Target Audience
First of all, the localizer must be able to adapt all texts to the target culture. This is the exact reason why it is called video game localization and not simply video game translation. Playing the game should make you feel that it has been developed in the country where it takes place. You have to be accurate to the target audience, not to the original text. Gamers will identify with the video game characters. Because of that, they will have fun precisely because they speak with colloquial expressions they can hear in everyday life. Ideally, do not use artificial phrases that sound like a literal translation of the original.
II. Master the English Language
English is the main working language and so game localizer must learn it. Even if the game is not originally in English, most translations start from this language. This means that even if the original version is in Japanese or Chinese, it is most often translated into US English first. It is only later that it is rendered in the main European languages (such as French, Italian, German or Spanish). The reasons are not a mystery: it’s cheaper, it’s easier to work with a translator that has this combination, and it also ensures uniformity in some aspects (in many cases the names of the characters are kept in English). This is not to say that you can’t translate from other languages. However, if you do it from English, the chances of finding a job in video game localization are higher.
III. Become a Gaming Expert
Specialize in this field by gaming. A specialized training is always advisable, but in this case it is best to learn to distinguish different languages and situations by playing different types of games. You do not have to be a gamer, but it is not recommended that you have never played a video game before. As in everything, the ideal is a middle ground. Gradually you will discover references or similar terms in games of the same theme and your creativity will develop. It is essential to use all our imagination to add value to the content of the videogame we are translating.
IV. Gather Technical Knowledge of Game Localization
Technical knowledge of localization is a must-have. Video game translation shares several aspects related to software localization, so if you are proficient in this field, it will not be too difficult to face the technical challenges of video game localization. You must keep it under control in order to adapt the game to the target culture while maintaining the possible variables, limitations and different codes in each case.
These are just some of the recommendations we can make if you are considering how to become a video game localizer. If you are really passionate about gaming and video game localization, do not hesitate! Start working to dedicate yourself to the interesting video game localization. If you do not meet all the requirements, there is always time to continue training: as in everything in life, learning is daily.
Translated by: Ana Mª Fariñas Ramos.
Edited and adapted by: