So the other day I got a message from a friend saying he might have a game translation for me. But he also mentioned that something wasn’t quite right about this ‘job’. He was messaging me to check it out and there were… a number of alarm bells.


Alarm Bell 1

The “job offer” was on Discord.

Discord is a popular instant messaging program where people can make private forums. They’re very popular among game enthusiasts and makers.

This person joined my friend’s forum and was asking if there were any translators for a project. Discord isn’t the place you’d normally go to to hire professional game translators. You would find them on translatorscafe or the company’s own website.


Alarm Bell 2

They gave no information about themselves or their company.

They outright refused to give their name and the name of their ‘company’. As well as any past games they had worked on.

This is very strange when you’re working with freelance professionals as your name and company are basic information that should be available to everyone. Refusing this instantly made me wary of them.

When I joined the conversation they asked what past jobs I had done, but because they refused to tell me anything, I refused to give them any details too. (I also refused because there was something dodgy going on and I didn’t want to give out any personal information.)


Alarm Bell 3

This person gave no information about the game or the job.

They had a “proposal” in Japanese which… didn’t actually say anything. The Japanese was mostly correct (they had obviously used non-Japanese natives to translate it), but the content didn’t say anything specific. The screenshots used were all from established and popular visual novel games.

They also refused to give any information about the job. Only that it was be a 1-2 year project. And after a LOT of poking they finally relieved the price would be less than $0.06 per English word. Which is very low for a professional game translation.


The Result

Needless to say my conversation with this person was SHORT. I instantly shot them down stating that I didn’t trust someone who wouldn’t provide any information about the job or themselves.

This person may have been legitimate, just a really bad businessman. Or they may have been new and this was a personal project they were trying to get officially translation. Either way it would have been better for them to provide their name and explain in better detail.

Avoiding Scams

To Translators

If you ever feel like something’s not right with a project politely ask questions to find out more.

If your gut is still screaming there’s something wrong DON’T go for it. Even if you’re desperate falling for a translation scam could cost you more in the long run.


To People Looking for Translators

Finding a good freelance translator online isn’t easy, and there are some scam translators out there too. (People who pretend to be someone else and offer translation services only to provide you with a google translate.)

But it’s still important to provide as much information about a project as possible. Such as when it will start, how long it will be for, and cost.

This is so the freelance translator can plan their schedule and take on/reject jobs so they have enough time to focus on your project. Which is why it’s incredibly unethical to offer a job then tell the translator last minute that the project isn’t going to happen. – Communication is important for EVERYONE.


To Translators and Employees

If you are worried about scam companies / translators see if you can find them on social media, and Linkedin. Are they active on social media/Linkedin? Do they have a website?

Can you find their contact information?

What do other people say about them online?

The company/translator might be new, in that case ask them what they’ve done in the past?

A translator might be a recent graduate or just moved on from another field of work. In those cases provide them with a translation test.

If the company is new ask what the person offering you the job has done in the past (and again see if they have social media/linkedin).

In the end it’s important to be both cautious and open online.
But most importantly, use common sense!


Further Reading

For further reading on scams Carol at Make a Living Writing has some GREAT advice for spotting scam jobs online:

Learn How to Spot Writing Scams

Can You Spot These 3 Different Freelance Writing Scams?



Game Translation Scams
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Naoko Ushimaru-Alsop
Naoko Ushimaru-Alsop
6 years ago

Hi Jennifer,
I strongly recommend that any translator looking for new clients sign up for the “payment practice” forums or mailing lists for translators and interpreters. Just search on the web.Some are for free and some requiring small annual fees. They exchange information on bad/none-payers.
Good luck with your career!!!