GamingSkillsTranslationVideo Game

5 Essential Skills to Work in Video Game Localization

By 13 April 2022No Comments

When it comes to the professional localization of video games, few people are aware of the basic skills required to work in this field. Should you be stuck to your gaming console 24/7? Do you need to know how to program to understand which files to be translated? Must one know Japanese? How can one specialize in this? Let’s take a look at the main recommendations for working in this domain.

n recent years, as the range of games offered to different kinds of audiences has expanded considerably, so has the number of games
translated increased. Spending an afternoon playing console-based games is no longer considered ”just for kids”. This is good news for
translators, as the demand for video game professionals has increased along with this boom. It is also one of the most attractive sectors for
young translators today, many of whom have spent a good chunk of their youth playing video games.
So, how can you make a name for yourself in this sector? 5 tips to achieve this:
  • Full working proficiency in English.
Like it or not, the vast majority of translations in this sector are based in English, even if the original video game may not be. Thus, if the
source text is in Japanese or Chinese, it will most likely be first translated into American English and then into the four main European
languages (French, Italian, German and Spanish, or FIGS*, as known within the industry). The reason is straightforward: it is much
cheaper (in terms of money and availability) to hire a translator who translates from English to Spanish than one who translates from
Japanese to Spanish. In addition, this ensures consistency in certain aspects, such as the names of the characters (sometimes, in the case of
role-playing games, it is better to keep the English name rather than localize it). Of course, there are games translated from other languages,
and Japan also has its own market, as well. But you are much more likely to make a name for yourself in this domain if you translate from
  • Play as much as is possible.
Fortunately, a master’s inlocalizing video games isn’t required to specialize in this sector. Of course, it is always advisable to opt for
specialized courses, but unlike in fields such as medicine or mechanical engineering, it is not necessary to study as much to specialize in a
field as the best (and the most fun) part is playing several types of games (strategy, action, role, platform) is all that is required to get an idea
of the language and the issues that one can encounter. The more you play, the better. But, it’s just as important to know that you don’t have
to be an avid player.
  • Bring out your creative side.
Although each video game has its own identity and each genre has its own characteristics, there is one thing in common amongst these
entertainment products: creativity! If the game is futuristic, it will certainly contain terminology relating to all kinds of advanced equipment.
If it is a fantastic, role-playing game in the Middle Ages, you will find all kinds of weapons with characteristic names and even find
characters with unique accents or a particular way of speaking. If it is a platform game, you will have to use relatively simple language that
will allow you to draw a smile on the player’s face when reading it (jokes and pranks are very welcome!). We must therefore be able to give
our imagination free rein to create unique texts
  • Be true to your audience, not to the original text.
That’s why we call it ”Video Game Localization” and not just ”Translation of Video Games”. The translator should be able to adapt the
material to the target culture, and for that, one must sometimes forget the source text to not taint the translation. The players identify with
the characters in the video games. They greatly enjoy the use of familiar expressions and not artificial-sounding expressions that only
resemble literal translations of the original.
  • Understanding the technical aspects of localization.
This type of translation shares several technical aspects related to software localization such as a dialogue character limits or the use of
variables and special codes in the text. Fortunately, this can be viewed from a positive angle: if you acquire knowledge of software
localization (multiple courses are available, if lacking experience), it will not be too difficult to face the technical challenges of video game
localization. As for a character limit, if a translator is truly creative, a solution with be hit upon to convey the message in the most concise
way possible.
If you think you have what it takes, why not try to enter the exciting world of video game localization? And if you find are still lacking,
remember that it is never too late to learn!
*FIGS (French, Italian, German and Spanish) : dans l’industrie de la traduction et de la localisation, FIGS est un acronIn the translation and localization industry, FIGS is an acronym that stands for French,
Italian, German and Spanish. Translations from English into FIGS languages represent a significant percentage of localized work that takes
place in the United States. Unlike Asian, Middle Eastern or cyrillic-based languages, FIGS languages uses the Roman alphabet. This is why
most computer operating systems, software applications and printers that use English can effectively meet FIGS needs with minimal issues.

Leave a Reply