Localization Tips for Games

[ 0 ] November 30, 2016 |

By Sarah-Claire Jordan

localization-tips-for-games-photoGames have become one of the most popular forms of entertainment lately, especially since almost everyone has some sort of mobile device with them at all times. Combined with such innovations as Wi-Fi and 4G, you have a recipe for people being glued to their devices. Since we seem to have become almost dependent on our smartphones, tablets, and other devices game developers have jumped at the opportunity to crank out as many addicting games for mobile devices as well as game consoles.

Just like any other product or service, a game needs to be localized before it can be marketed abroad. However, since most games have both audio and written content, sometimes this means having to choose between the best way to handle translation and localization. For text, you can just localize the content as you would any other text, albeit with some extra steps related to game development. For audio content, you have two choices basically: record voice-over to replace the original audio, or add subtitles in the target language. Both have their pros and cons, but subtitles are definitely cheaper.

If you do go for subtitles, there are several things you will have to keep in mind. First of all, not all languages use the same script. Languages such as Mandarin, Arabic, Hebrew, and Russian all use scripts that are very different from the Latin script we are used to as native English speakers. These other scripts take up different amounts of space and are even read in different directions, so the subtitle format must be adjusted to accommodate this. Fonts need to be considered as well, as some do not have the proper proportions for certain scripts.

As you can see, most of the localization involves text or audio. Generally, the format of the game doesn’t need to be changed much besides for accommodating the target language. However, images or artwork may need to be changed if they include text or wouldn’t make sense to the target audience. Date, currency, time, and numbers in general may need to be adjusted, as currency varies from region to region as well as the way times and dates are formatted. For instance, the U.S. generally uses the month/day/year format for dates, but many other countries use day/month/year and dates would be read wrong if not reformatted to match the target audience’s expectations.

A few other things should be kept in mind in terms of game localization, such as which file formats you choose to send out for translation, making sure to label language files correctly if the game is to be localized into multiple languages, and more. In general, however, more emphasis is placed on making sure the target audience will understand written and spoken parts of the game. As long as that is done properly, you shouldn’t have too much to worry about.

For an overview of Alpha Omega Translations’ expertise, visit our media and marketing translation page.

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Category: Business Translation