Articles related to video games and localization from the past……from however long ago I did this last. Enjoy!
Game Localization in General
This is such an incredibly interesting article! If you don’t know anything about this game, Disco Elysium is a massive roleplay game (over 100 hours and 1 million words!!!) where every tiny action you make can impact the story.
As such the dialogue trees are incredibly complex, making it particularly tricky to localize. Both in terms of cost efficiency and logistics. A passionate fanbase were also involved.
It’s an interesting article where the localization company hired some of the fan translators who really understood the game to help with the translation. It seems this worked as they hired them as freelance translators, rather than letting anyone have a go at the translation.
A great read if you’re interested in the challenges a complex game localization brings.
A discussion of the fan localization localization of Relic Hunters Zero and its official console release, which was handled by a localization company, Relic Hunters Zero: Remix.
The initial game was released for free, along with the source code, and anyone was able to edit a shared document with the localization. (The idea that just anyone could translate and edit the game text horrifies me, but this was a free game and that’s what the developers wanted.)
This article is by the company hired to take that fan translation and make it work for official console release.
They did a great job breaking down the advantages and disadvantages of fan translating a game from a developer’s perspective. (Spoiler, there are more disadvantages than advantages.) Not to mention the hidden costs…
“At the end of the day, while the community translation was free with no money spent on acquiring the translations, it was not free of cost due to our team’s contributions. It took dozens of hours away from our team to monitor and maintain the document, hours that belonged paying attention to more important tasks when releasing a game.”
This is an article by me, released on the International Game Developers Association website.
Related to the above article it talks about the hidden costs of fan translation and how you can’t have a game localization that’s cheap, fast, and high quality.
It has more concrete advice for game developers looking to localize their games and argues why it’s worth investing in professionals.
A great discussion on how language in game localizations can be more gender-inclusive. English has adopted the use of “they” more and more, but it still often uses gendered language with the focus of the player as “he”. Even the of gendered neutral language poses a challenge to languages which use gendered language (such as French, Spanish, Italian, etc.).
This article is mostly be aimed as localization vendors and developers on what they can do to improve the use of inclusive language in their games.
“The objective of inclusive language is to raise awareness and improve practices of how we communicate to the audience as a whole and not just reproduce a speech that reaches only part of the consumers.”
Japanese Game Localization
Interview with the English, French, and German translators of FFXIV as well as their project manager. Talking about the challenges that comes from localizing one of the biggest MMORPGs ever. Not do they have over 20 million across the globe but they’re constantly creating (and translating) new content for the game.
This is a cute article about a very cute game! It mostly discusses the clever localization choices of Animal Crossing’s name, jokes, and puns. Honestly, an incredibly well-done localization as there is so much word play in this game!
“Animal Crossing illustrates how translation doesn’t always mean putting exactly the same words into another language, but rather adapting and localising the content so that it gives the audience the same feeling and reaction as the original.”
This is a short article written by the localization project manager of the Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town.
I didn’t realise this was a remake of a 16-year-old game, so it was interesting to read that they decided to completely change the text and not reference the original at all. This allowed the localization to be more faithful to the original Japanese (such as with the character names.)
They also changed some of the mechanics from the Japanese version, such the ability to romance and marry same-sex partners.
An article about John Ricciardi and 8-4’s history localizing the original Nier and how that impacted their re-localization of Nier Replicant.
It’s fascinating to hear what a close relationship Ricciardi has with Yoko Taro. It’s not every day the localization lead can have such frank conversations with the director of the game. Too often you have localization agencies who turn into Yes Men without questioning or clarifying the original context. I wish mutual communication happened more often as it clearly results in better quality localizations!
Yakuza Like a Dragon Localization
One reason I love Sega is because they allow their localization team to be very open about their work. They use the international localization as a selling point for both Japanese and Western fans! How amazing is that!? So here are three more articles on the Yakuza localization (one in Japanese) and one video in Japanese talking about the English localization.
This is another article in Japanese (which you may have guessed from the title.) This one is released by the Cygames Magazine and discusses the localization team and their approach at Cygames.
I love it when I find articles written in Japanese on international localization. So many Japanese people (including in the games industry) don’t know what localization involves and the more education, the better!
For Game Localizers
A super short 16-minute interview with game localizer and writer Alex O. Smith. Alex has worked in game localization and writing in Japan for over 20 years. He talks about how he became interested in Japan and joined the industry. He finishes off with tips on the types of skills needed to be a good game localizer.
A great article by Lucile Danilov on what to expect from game translation tests and tips on researching and tricky sections.
This is a great article for anything interested in game writing and narrative jobs in general. It’s not localization but I think it’s still interesting. Especially as so many localizers go on to do narrative jobs.