Here a is a guest post I just received from my friends at Lingo24, which as you know, is one of my favorite Translation Agencies. (Note that I haven’t changed the original British spelling, I hope you don’t mind, it’s still English :-).
Read the post and tell us what you think.
Localisation is more than a Game for some Eastern Industries…
For any business seeking to globalise, it’s important to realise that there is a lot more to it than simply translating its communications verbatim.
There is a whole host of cultural and linguistic nuances that must be considered for a product or service to be accepted wholeheartedly by other societies.
Japan, for example, has always been at the forefront of the console and computer gaming industry, with the likes of Nintendo and Sega having their main headquarters in Kyoto and Tokyo respectively. But with the popularity of computer games growing exponentially over the past couple of decades, it’s only natural that serious competition would start to sprout up elsewhere in the world.
Indeed, ‘Western’ games have become increasingly sought-after in recent years, which has meant the popularity of many Japanese games has started to wean a little.
Ultimately, this has led to some of the top Japanese games companies employing the services of dedicated localisation specialists, who not only arrange for the translation and interpretation of the text and dialogue, but also help them to consider the subtler aspects of the game; the characters, the costumes, the narrative – fundamental aspects of a computer gaming experience that have often been marginalised in many of the best-selling Japanese games.
Given there is so much money tied up in the gaming industry, Japanese companies are paying top dollar to ensure their products meet the correct criteria of the international community; and similar to the wider translation and localisation community, there are the usual horror stories of ‘when it goes wrong’.
A classic example of this was when Japanese company Tecmo’s ‘Final Frame’ game was localised for the US and European markets. They changed all the characters to be of Western appearance, but when the game ends with the main protagonist Miku being reunited with her lost brother Mafayu, they had forgotten to change his features; meaning, they didn’t appear to be related at all.
But although this is simply an ‘oversight’, it does help to illustrate the importance of localising a game for the world market. And as with anything, if something is worth doing, then it’s worth doing right.
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The Localization Industry Standards Association (LISA) defines localization as “the process of modifying products or services to account for differences in distinct markets… Localization is not just a linguistic process. Cultural, content and technical issues must also be taken into account.”
Also see one of Translator Power’s posts on GILT.
What is your own experience of “localization“, as opposed to “simple translation”?
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