Localization is a very common practice in the design and development of video games. More and more and, thanks to the new digital technologies, their use is carried out more frequently and by much of the countries of the world. But what exactly is the localization? It is simply the translation of the texts of a video game, from its original language and sense to its transcription in the country where it will be distributed. According to this article, it is a practice that is influenced by several factors, such as, for example, players, publishers, developers, etc. In addition, the policies and cultures of each country also influence. It may seem like a simple practice, but economically speaking, it is not.
Thanks to the study done by Marina Fontolan, James Wilson Malazita and Janaina Pamplona da Costa in “Language, Identity and Games: Discussing the Role of Players in Videogame Localization”, we can get to the idea of how complicated this task is. They interviewed various video game professionals, some of them localization managers in multiplatform games and PC games. There is some controversy between them, but they all come to the conclusion that they have to listen to their players, as they are their customers and let them know what works or not in the video game. Some, use forums to know the opinion of the customers and thus be able to improve or not their product, since sometimes, it is not possible to carry out everything the players say.
What is surprising about this study is that many players, even if they do not have the game in their own language, will continue to play the original, even if they do not understand anything of what is written. They emphasize this in the Brazilian players, who were playing a Japanese game without having been translated, a practice that for professionals in the sector seems strange and as they say well “a practice not shared by European gamers whose game choices were in part determined by language availability”, that is, in other words, the European population is more likely to wait for the game to come out in their own language than in the original. Therefore, many times, it depends on the country, some become servants of industry (in this case the Brazilian population) and others on the contrary (the European population).
The more countries the localization of video games in different languages arrives, the more likely it is to grow the industry, as it drives consumption. We are used to EFIGS, which means, the most widespread languages in the world, which would be English, French, Italian, German and Spanish. There was one case, in the Hungarian community, where they asked to translate an audio from a video game, which was only in English, although it was playable in ten different languages, to Hungarian. What happened was that, being such a small community, they didn’t realize to do it, because the cost was too high. So, the conclusion is that localization is like a wheel, as Finley says “The more languages we make available, the more players we get, and also it can give us more players who also want other languages”, which can be good or bad for the video game industry.
Finally, the study specified that, thanks to new digital game distributions, localization has grown and that has also helped companies to be able to listen to their customers, since they allow them to know what they can improve, although it will not always be possible to meet the expectations of the players, since sometimes you do not have enough money to change certain things. Even so, the games will continue to be played, even if they are not in the player’s preferred language, as they will find ways to do so, but they will always keep pushing these companies, asking for improvements in localization.
Article: Game Studies. (n.d.). “Language, Identity and Games: Discussing the Role of Players in Videogame Localization” by Fontolan M., Wilson Malazita J., Pamplona da Costa J. Gamestudies.org. Retrieved 15 October 2022, from http://gamestudies.org/2203/articles/fontolan_malazita_dacosta
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