A Song of Blood, Sweat and Tears: MoGi’s work on Game of Thrones
The format of Game of Thrones: A Telltale Games Series follows the successful, award-winning path trodden by The Walking Dead (another title we work on, blog coming soon!) and The Wolf Among Us from the same company.
Telltale Games is famous for offering players a ‘tailored story’ where the options you choose and decisions you make impact what happens, meaning your experience of the game could be completely different to another player.
Game of Thrones sticks to this same formula. Players progress as five members of House Forrester, who are mentioned in the books but do not appear in the TV show, allowing the story to progress free from pre-determined events. The characters are spread throughout Westeros and encounter all of the most recognisable faces – Lannisters, Tyrells, Boltons, Targaryens, Starks – as the story develops.
Given the sheer scale and scope of the Game of Thrones world, it’s no surprise that localizing all game content represented something of a challenge – step forward MoGi!
Our localization of Game of Thrones concerns a total of 6 languages – French, German, Spanish (Latin American), Portuguese (Brazilian), Russian and Chinese (Traditional).
Working on the game version of one of the biggest TV shows of the last decade is, naturally, very exciting – and a real pleasure – but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t without challenges and obstacles, particularly when the format of the game leads to all manner of different scenarios.
“One of the things that stands out from working on Game of Thrones is the difficulties surrounding the use of formal and informal language,” says one of our German translators. “For example, from English, “you” can be translated differently depending on who is talking to whom. Mira Forrester, for instance, would address the likes of Margaery, Cersei and Tyrion very formally because of their social status.
“The tone of the translation is also influenced by the character’s relationships with each other, something which is in turn defined by the choices the player makes during the game. The character’s attitudes to one another – cordial or hostile – changes how the words are translated.”
This means that, on many occasions, the same scene and dialogue needs to be translated differently, according to who was speaking, who they were talking to, who else was in the room and what had happened previously.
Of course, one of the standout features of the TV show is the, let’s say, colourful language. The game is no different, and matching the menace and meaning behind the insults and threats uttered throughout the episodes presented another challenge to our localization teams, albeit a somewhat entertaining one. Any scene with Ramsey Bolton certainly took some imagination!
The books from the ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ collection have been translated into at least 45 languages and sold more than 60 million copies worldwide, meaning fans all over the globe are familiar with the characters, themes, terms and places.
“Almost everything within the Game of Thrones universe has an official translation,” says our team member. “Jon Snow, for example, is called Jon Schnee, in the German version. One of the most time-consuming elements of this project was creating a glossary of all these terms so that they were consistent both with each other throughout the game, and with the words used in the books and TV shows.
“On projects like this, there is no substitute for communication. Our project managers were in almost constant contact with the client, and they with HBO, to ensure things like names were correct. As we progressed, we built our own glossary with these terms and links to relevant resources. For certain things, such as tone of voice, we would check the books or TV episode to see if it was rude, formal or somewhere in between and decide as a team the best way to proceed.”
So, it’s challenging, testing and occasionally exhausting, but is it worth it? You bet it is!
“Working on Game of Thrones, and other titles from Telltale Games, is a whole lot of fun,” says our translator. “Like everyone, we are massive fans of the show and can’t wait for the new season. Heading to the office knowing you are going to be working on a part of one of the biggest cultural phenomenons of recent times…what’s not to like?”