What does video game translation consist of? The video game localization process offers the possibility to play an interactive product in its entirety even without knowing its original language. In fact, localizing isn’t limited to the mere translation from one language to another, but it takes into account the target culture and the possible cultural and social references present in the game that will have to be adjusted to the target audience. The professional figure that works in this field is a highly qualified translator, aware of the challenges and the cultural adaptation they have to face when adapting an interactive product.
The video game localization process
The first step to localize an interactive product is familiarization, the translator must study the product in detail, diving into its universe and its culture to analyse the authors’ intention and
understand what type of challenges they will face. Then, the translator will start the localization of the contents and all the texts present in the product. As a matter of fact, a video game is made of various types of texts: in-game texts, script, subtitles, marketing texts and more. Another important task is the adaptation of the script (dialogues between the characters, narrating voices, etc.), in case the game includes a dub, which will be implemented with the dialogues’ subtitles. This type of localization is subjected to particular restrictions, and present specific peculiarities, separating itself from the cinema voice over.
The relationship between localisation, marketing and cross-media products
As already mentioned, video game localization includes the aspects and the texts related to marketing. This specific category includes trailers, texts on the official sites, interviews with professionals who worked on the products, previews, strategy guides and much more. The second type of text tied to video games and to the localization of interactive works consists of cross-media products. With this definition we refer to all the products born from video game intellectual properties and that are linked to said game: novels, comics, art books, making of, documentaries and so on.
The challenges of video game localization
This specific process of adaptation demands particular skills from the translator, who has to take care not only of the textual translation from one language to another but also of the contextual and cultural adaptation, adapting it to the target audience, with particular attention in case of intellectual properties and continuity with previous instalments. All the linguistic features and the peculiarities of the genre, together with the specific terms related to the console, must be respected. In the field of video game localization, certain mistakes, whether they are related to the translation, the adaptation or the dubbing, could have serious consequences, preventing the players from appreciating the game completely, damaging the gaming experience or making it impossible. Localizing a game is a job full of challenges and responsibilities, the localizer is the cornerstone of an expanding market, the central figure who builds a bridge between cultures and gaming experiences at a global level.