Video game localisation is invaluable when it comes to reaching a global audience with your gaming software. In order for your gaming product to achieve maximum exposure and revenue as a result, you need it to be translated worldwide. Video game translation is most successful when an audience cannot tell that the software has been used for a different audience, feeling embedded within the world of the game as a result. This might sound as simple as having the words on a screen translated into the relevant language for your consumer, but video game localisation is far more complex than that.

What is video game localisation?

Video game localisation (or translation) delves deeper than the translation of text from one language to another — although this is an important part of the process. Video games often contain cultural references or aspects of humour that are particular to an individual culture and its history. Video game translation focuses on translating these cultural and historical references, as well as instances of regional slang and censorship regulations.

Abiding by censorship law is also a massive part of video game translations. Censorship regulations are not the same in every country, particularly when it comes to matters such as violence and gore in gaming (a popular component of many storylines within the gaming world). This has to be taken into account carefully throughout the video game translation process. Other changes made during the localisation of a video game are more drastic and require specialised development work. These include changing background music to fit with music trends within a certain culture, changing entire scenes within a game so that they abide by a culture’s preference and familiarities, game menu edits to translate for left-to-right versus right-to-left languages, renaming and redesigning characters so that they do not conflict with public figures in a particular country, and much more.

Ultimately, video game translation enriches a game for multiple cultures. It is essentially the act of developing a list of entirely separate pieces of gaming software for the benefit of each country. While this sounds like a great deal of hard work and dedication, it is an excellent way to maximise sales and prove the high-quality nature of your product to a worldwide audience. Video game translation is about inclusivity and breaking barriers between different cultures in the world of gaming.

Becoming a video game localiser

To translate a game means to understand both the intricacies of gaming and language separately. Of course, the more drastic elements of video game localisation (and even the basic ones) make the role of a video localiser highly complicated and specialised. Video game localisers must deliver high-quality work at all times and constantly adapt their knowledge to fit cultural changes across the world. To translate a video game is not simply about being able to speak two languages fluently. Translators need to have an interest in all genres of gaming and exceptional knowledge of gaming jargon, as well as impressive language abilities. Of course, the industry of gaming evolves constantly with advancing technologies, so video game localisers need to be able to adapt to new technology and gameplay features at all times, following gaming trends and in order to strive.

The benefits of video game translation

There are many benefits to video game translations. The most obvious one is that video game localisation helps technology companies reach a worldwide audience, generating maximum revenue as a result. With software accessible in multiple countries comes an increase in downloads, higher app store rankings, and a fierce competitive streak. The localisation of a video game also allows developers to take control of their game by avoiding translations from other people. These translations could be lower quality and therefore tarnish the reputation of the game on a global scale.

Of course, video game localisation is also highly beneficial for the player. It allows users all over the world to be included in something technologically brilliant. It also prevents people from becoming confused by the storyline of a game. In fact, a perfectly localised game helps users to become immersed in the world of the game by playing it in their own cultural and linguistic context.

What does video game localisation mean for designers

In short, the process for the localisation of a video game means a lot of extra work and diligence for designers. In order to tap into the international market successfully, designers need to be going the extra mile at all times. As mentioned previously, they also must have an astute understanding of culture shock and censorship laws. Concentrating on nuanced content on a regular basis can feel restrictive for designers, who often incorporate high-risk content into their stories for a dramatic impact and to showcase their skills in a varied way. Although it can feel restrictive, if designers work through these feelings, they ultimately produce a far more inclusive and lucrative product. They also develop their skillset in a highly specialised and coveted area of gaming.

Video game localisation might sound like a highly complex process, and it is. There are so many elements to consider throughout it. However, through the art of dedicated and experienced video game translators like Global Lingo, video game localisation allows people from all over the world to enjoy an important product of the technological revolution of the 21st century.