What is game localization and why is it important?
Hi! Welcome to a new series of articles revolved around the topic of localization. Most of you probably have no idea what is localization, even though we all have encountered it somewhere. All game and program versions in a language different than the original one are products of the localization. Today we will focus on explaining that exactly game localization is and why it is needed.
What is game localization?
Let’s start with the basics, and that is, what is game localization about? Hearing the word “localization” we imagine a location or a place, which is not such a bad guess. Globalization and Localization Association (GALA) has establish the following definition of localization: “the process of adapting a product or content to suit given country, environment or market”. The aim of localization is to make given product, like a game or software, suitable for a specific market or country. The localization process involves mostly translating and here’s when another question arises: How are translation and localization different? While both involve translating, in the case of localization we also adapt all cultural and legal elements to the market, so that the users feel natural seeing their own language and understand any cultural references.
When localizing a game translation, you have to make sure to adapt the technical elements of the game. For example, the UK and the USA use miles, whereas other countries use kilometers. The role of the localization is to present the information in units understandable for the user. That’s how translation and localization are different. Translation only explains the information in a different language, but localization suits the information format to the target market. The language is not the only thing to consider, as the cultural aspects count too.
Why localize a game?
Having figured out what localization is, time to answer another great question: why localize? The biggest reason to localize your products is making them accessible for more clients. Not every person knows English well enough to comprehend the content as intended. Moreover, even if someone does know English well, they often decide to sue the product in their mother tongue. It is worth noticing, that new games and programs are not only created in English, but also in Korean, Chinese, or even Polish. In the case of video games created in such languages, localization is crucial, as otherwise the product is trapped on a small area, without access to most of people. Games with translations are found more easily by people from the whole world.
What does game localization involve?
In the first part I mentioned the use of different units. This is another great reason for the importance of software localization. A brilliant example is that most of the world’s countries use kilometers and Celsius scale, but the USA uses miles and Fahrenheit scale. This is why, when releasing a game, you have to ensure that everything is presented in units understandable for the recipients. Localization allows to avoid a situation in which the user is feeling lost and confused, which would happen without localization.
What does game localization look like in practice?
The next reason to localize your product are the cultural elements. A lot of films and games include cultural references understandable only for specific regions or single countries. That’s why translating a game must consider if a given market will understand the reference or if it is needed to replace it with another one causing a similar reaction. Otherwise, the client won’t be able to get the gist of a reference or a joke, which are a vital point of each game. This way, the effect designed by the game creators won’t be achieved. The game might sometimes be received in a completely wrong way. Throughout the process of localization, it might turn out that some elements of the game have to be skipped, for example, dialogue parts, because of the lack of satisfying equivalents in the target language.
Summary - Why is video game localization so important?
In summary, localization involves adapting the product to a given market. Thanks to game and software localization, the user feels comfortable and confident while using the product, which is comprehensible and feels familiar. In the next article we will take a deep look at the process of localization and the methods of effective 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