Challenges that Every Game Translator Faces

Very few industries have been able to expand and grow globally like the gaming industry. There was a time when video games were insignificant and occupied a tiny portion of the mainstream culture of society. However, with the advent of technology and globalization, the gaming industry has been able to vanquish mainstream culture and has become a significant part of every household. Gaming Translation services have played a major contributing role in the expansion of video games around the world. 

The popularity of video games has led to a need for localization solutions. However, this endeavor has multiple challenges that game translators face during the process. 

Let’s take a look at them;

Localization Difficulties

A lot of gamers want to translate video games into other languages. And it’s relatively not a very difficult task. However, the real issue comes when the game is to be localized and not just simply translated. The reason behind this difficulty is that the number of people who can actually localize is very less.

This is an issue both for the game developers and the translators, as well. Because game developers do not have a vast pool to choose from. And the translators do not have other professionals to consult with. And this situation usually arises when the translation and localization are in another language besides English. Moreover, the ones who do provide translations in other languages have been given jobs by some of the leading professional translation services, hence, limiting the efforts of organizations that are working as in-house translation specialists. 


Cultural Integration 

One of the most daunting challenges that game translators face is integrating cultures when translating and localizing games from one language to another. And the difficulty is not pertaining to just simple word-to-word translations. But arises when the culture of the target audience has to overlap with the translations. 

In this scenario, you do not only need to convert words into the targeted language but also have to keep intact the tone, style, mannerism, double meanings, idiomatic phrases, and cultural intricacies of the target market’s language. If your translated work does not fulfill the cultural nuances of the consumers, your services will remain ineffective.

Moreover, if you get the job wrong, you will not only create a cultural clash but might even denigrate the reputation of your organization. Hence, game translators always avoid offending their consumer audience. Because, if you look from a global perspective, the risks are just too great and cannot be afforded. This matter could be explained more effectively vis-a-vis an example. 


The example of Nintendo attempting to localize its game and penetrate the Japanese market can be considered relevant in this scenario. So what Nintendo tried was to localize its game, called, ‘Fire Emblem Fates’ into the Japanese market. But it was an unsuccessful attempt because they did not keep intact the intricacies and nuances of the Japanese culture. Consequently, a conflict started between the English and Japanese culture and it got really out of hand. A lot of people were accused of sexism. And many experienced hate crimes. This shows that localization done wrong can lead to severe consequences. 



Another challenge that game translators face during the translation process is the depiction of inculcating creativity in the localization process. One might ask that why creativity is imperative in the process of translating games. And the answer to this query is that creativity is what differentiates a good game translator from a bad one. So the importance lies within the level of success achieved by the translator. 

Another factor that might pose a challenge for game translators is that they have the chance to completely create a new experience for the consumer. Hence, they have been given the opportunity to be liberal and innovative in any fashion or form. The gameplay and the software interaction will probably remain the same because no game developer wants to change the entire game interface for a particular segment of society. However, the game translator has the option to change any of the dialogues, jokes, or other references that might offend the target audience. And alter them to fit the target market. In this scenario, the consumer will not be offended and the gameplay will be engaging as well. 



Misinterpretation is another challenge that game translators have to deal with. The reason behind misinterpretation is the lack of proper contextual data. Game translators usually misinterpret the information given to them because they underestimate its relevance and due significance. They believe that since the gameplay of the video game is universal, there is no need to interpret the data thoroughly. 

This perception eventually leads to a lot of grammatical mistakes and obscurity that ruins the entire game experience. And once the game experience is ruined, the purpose of localization is already defeated. So what should be done to resolve this issue? Experts suggest that the game translators should be imparted with a localization kit. This kit will be helpful in diminishing the risk of misinterpretation. It will contain all the necessary contextual information that the translator is going to need. Moreover, it will also provide the required tools and assets that will eliminate the chance of any misinterpretation occurring. 


The purpose of this article was to point out some of the real challenges that game translators face when localizing games for a particular target market. Gaming translation services are the future as far as globalization is concerned. Gone are the days when video games did not endorse any international recognition. Now, if publishers want to compete in the global market, they have no choice but to translate their video games to penetrate foreign markets.

However, this job requires a properly structured strategy as a lot of time, money and effort goes into the localization process. Moreover, the challenges faced by game translators should be dealt with with precision and a multifaceted approach. This can only take place if proper studies and full-fledged research are conducted before the localization process is initiated, while it is being conducted, and after it has been accomplished. The 360-degree approach will allow publishers to find out what works and what’s ineffective.   

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