Translation vs Localization: More than words

If there’s one thing we know for sure it’s that we love what we do.

Nothing makes our day like seeing a great, deserving game succeed and knowing that our skills and expertise in localization helped make that happen. We love what we do so much, in fact, that we often forget that not everybody knows what localization actually is and how it differs from translation. We thought now would be a good time to outline the basic differences and bring everyone up to speed!

Localization is about so much more than ‘just’ translating. Especially in the world of video games localization, it’s about more than words, it’s about depth of understanding – depth of understanding of the video games industry, depth of understanding of national cultures, idiosyncrasies and identities, and depth of understanding of gaming culture. It’s about total immersion in the medium and having a strong grasp on just how large a role language plays in the video game experience. So how do we achieve this level of depth and immersion?

We work with humans, not machines

No, it’s not that we’re paranoid about the threat posed by Skynet. We know that when it comes to language, there’s no replacement for a good old-fashioned native speaker who knows their own language inside and out – and believe us, when it comes to translating 40 million words of gaming per year, knowing a language inside and out is paramount! Working with real people allows us to localize each and every word on its own merit. Context is king in localization, and having a diverse, passionate team on board makes understanding any number of international contexts and adapting to them in real time a matter of ease. We do of course use various CAT tools (Computer Assisted Translation) including SDL Studio and MemoQ Server, but it’s our focus on the human touch that helps us really take things to the next level.

Understand the gamer, understand the game

One of the most vital aspects of personality we take into consideration when inducting a new team member into our ranks is their love for the video games industry. It’s important that any new team member be both capable and professional in the field of localization – but it’s a passion for gaming that really makes the cream rise to the top here.  Being a team powered by avid gamers brings an entirely new level of depth to the standard of localization service we can provide. Being gamers ourselves, we are far more well equipped to inhabit and breathe inside the worlds of every game we work on. As gamers, we can get underneath the skin of the game, understand its intricacies and set our minds about how best to utilize language to reflect what is required within the game, not just what’s on the page. Think riddles in adventure games. Riddles can be translated easily enough, but the role of a riddle is to mislead, so literal translations may cause more harm than good. It’s only with a real understanding of the world of the game that aspects like this can be carried out to their full potential – also, if not localized correctly, the gamer may get stuck at that point of the game indefinitely, where’s the fun in that? In essence, understanding of the culture of the world within the game is just as important as understanding the culture of the player.

Establish active partnerships, not passive service

As any of our long list of clients can tell you, we like to form lasting partnerships with everyone we work with. Whether it’s an industry giant or a first-time developer (as part of our Indie Initiative), all games are created equal in our eyes. Establishing a strong bond with the developer and ensuring we have a keen understanding at all times of just what they want their game to be is a key factor in effective localization. As such, we work closely with each developer, creating a cycle of input and feedback at every stage of localization to make sure their exact ideas are being communicated in the exact way they want. Blind translation alone is not an option, we immerse ourselves deeply in each project to help bring the world of the game to life in over 40 languages.

For more information about our extensive localization and translation services, contact us today!
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