Say The Right Thing With Aid Of Localization, Avoid Embarrassment


(Image credit: Hamachidori)

When Juliet Capulet meets her true love Romeo Montague, from a warring family, she says, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” pointing out that she believes their last names to be artificial and meaningless. With respect to the star-crossed lovers, VMC Localization Project Manager Alvi Islamaj says that terms actually matter significantly in localization.

In the last blog, I discussed how localization testers examine tone and context of a game. It’s also important to note that testers also examine subtler linguistic nuances that might not translate well between two disparate cultures. Key to the quality of localization is being really informed about the target audience.  Most people realize that language in children games cannot be vulgar – but going a level down, the localization team also needs to be careful not to put in terminology that teaches something bad.

We use specialists to do the translation in children’s titles. You’d be surprised at how difficult it is for to translate and write from the point of view of a child. It’s widely acknowledged that translators who have rarely translated children’s game will have a very hard time with it and will likely do a poor job. Children’s games can be very technical and detailed; we are challenged to convey concepts in very few words. We are careful not to use words that are not in the target audience’s vocabulary.  Also, some younger age groups are not fast readers, so there’s an ideal rhythm and flow in a good translation.

All the countries have their own rating system, which is something our localization team is very aware of. To be able to release a children’s game, a client has to pass certification. A good localization team can bring their expertise to the table be an ally in getting certified.

Here’s a funny story: Our localization team was translating a children’s game from English to French. Acorns had a big presence in the original game. Translating acorn from English to French proved very difficult, because any way you translate it, acorn in French is slang for part of the male anatomy, which is very inappropriate in a children’s game.  We caught that and made acorn another nut. It’s an imperfect solution because there were picture of acorns all over the game and acorns look distinctive, not like any other nut. The lesson we passed onto our clients is to never have acorns appear in children’s games.

Oftentimes, the human perspective and experience digs out nuances and that machines and those with less experience overlook. When it comes to localization, what lengths will you go through to ensure that there are no unfortunate double entendre in your title?

Alvi Islamaj can be reached at Go here for more posts about localization.

About VMC Consulting and VMC Game Labs

VMC Consulting is a technology consulting and outsourcing company that provides flexible and scalable build, run and support solutions. VMC Game Labs is the world’s leading partner for games quality assurance and support.
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