Lessons on Localizing Videogames. Part 1

  • What does the game localization start from?
  • Which tools are used for professional localization?
  • Why do translators need to know the game characters’ backgrounds?
  • How to deal with the different cultural aspects of localization (local holidays, colors meaning, etc.)?

- Good evening, and welcome to another episode of the Perceptive Podcast here on Game-Wisdom.com! Tonight, we will be talking about game localization. Please welcome: the localization manager from Alconost, Yana! I’m happy we got a chance to do this cast! It’s a topic for a lot of developers out there — I’m sure for people that you and Alconost are working with — it’s probably something they don’t really consider when in the middle of game development…

What does your role as a localization manager entail at Alconost?

When a developer reaches out to Alconost, how do you start working with someone when it comes to localizing their game for different languages?

Do you have different costs based on what languages you’re translating into?

  • The most popular languages — are the common European languages, like Italian, Spanish, French, German.
  • Less common languages where there are fewer translators who specialize in these languages, and that’s why they have a bit higher rates.
  • Languages with the highest rates; it’s usually the Scandinavian languages and Japanese.

When should developers reach out to Alconost? When should they start considering localizing their game?

When we talk about the UI aspect, do you work with a developer in terms of how the translated text will look within the game space?

Before we talk a little bit more about the actual process, let’s talk about the tools that you use; for myself and developers and students listening, we probably haven’t done this before.

Are there any interesting or unique challenges that come up in specific genres that a developer who is coming to Alconost may not necessarily think about?

When it comes to role-playing games, in particular, games that are built heavily on how characters are defined and how they speak to one another, this is certainly a major point! And I was hoping you could spend a few minutes talking about kind of… making sure that characterization transfers from localization to localization?

Definitely! One of the worst things I think you can do to a game, in terms of this aspect, is having a lot of your characterization lost in one specific language… How you write a character in one language may not be how you want that to be exactly translated in another language!

One thing that you said about using images and information like that… That actually brings an interesting question! What information should developers either send or prepare to send when they’re reaching out to a company like Alconost to get their game localized?

Could you go into more detail about how many people work on a game? How does work get divided up?

And regarding making sure that the game makes as much sense in one language as it does in another… Any other aspects of that that we didn’t hit on that you like to bring up?

When you’re trying to build a game globally, it must be a very interesting challenge when you’re trying to make sure that every culture you have represented in your game has its respective holidays and traditions in it.

Here comes up the idea of having people who are native speakers for the translating work. Who do you think should be doing the localization of a game?

Is there anything else that a developer may not necessarily think about that needs to be properly localized or even changed if you’re going from one language to another?

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