Translation is a complex activity. It requires full mastery of the source language and the ability to convey the meaning in a way that respects not only the grammatical rules of the target language but also the look and feel of the target culture. Ultimately, translation is synonym of localisation: a translation which doesn’t address the local conventions will certainly fall short of its purpose.
Translating video games is no exception. A highly creative exercise by definition, translation of video games involves the recreation of the idioms, humour, energy and the overall environment intended by the game developers and publishers. In other words, translators must convey to the target audience the illusion that they are playing a masterpiece originally developed in their native countries rather than an adaptation.
This fantastic and challenging journey is, however, not short of pitfalls. Getting the basics wrong will almost certainly mean that your overall investment in localisation will be put at risk. Outsourcing translation services grants you the flexibility of having dedicated specialists with the necessary skills, processes and tools to ensure the success of your translations, whenever you need.
Outsourcing translation The practical benefits of outsourcing the translation of your game can be summarised as follows:
1. Flexible access to skilled linguists
The mood and environment of a first-person shooter is certainly different from a football management game. But which linguist is most suitable to translate and localise your games? What if you only need the translators to work on your projects for a limited timeframe? A dependable outsourcer will have processes and policies in place to hire the cream of crop, enabling you to save endless time and money in recruitment. Also, having the flexibility of being charged by the number of words, rather than on a time or contractual basis, means that
you can optimise your costs to a great extent.
2. Availability of multiple language combinations
Outsourcing translation services grants you access to a wide array of language combinations and dialects on a highly flexible basis, saving you precious time and resources. A reliable outsourcer will also provide you with a consistent translation approach across different language combinations, thereby enhancing the quality of the end product.
3. Expert project management
A successful translation of video game content relies greatly on the skills and expertise of the project manager in charge. Project managers are the professionals responsible for ensuring the best translators are assigned to a specific game, the necessary tools are being used, and your guidelines (and/or third-party documentation) are being duly enforced. Project managers will liaise with translators to resolve most linguistic queries that will crop up during the translation stage, allowing you to concentrate on your core activities.
4. Risk mitigation
If you are planning to keep translation in-house, you may be able to find translators, but you may also run the risk of hiring translators who may not have terminology knowledge or are not experienced enough to translate RPGs, for example. Costs aside, experienced translators may simply not be available when you need them.
Translating video game content also involves compliance with first/third-party terminology and knowledge of specialist glossary-management tools. A single non-conformity with approved terminology will often imply an increase in submission costs, testing cycles and deferral of release dates.
File format consistency is another key element in translation workflow. Reliable outsourcers will ensure the localised assets are consistent from technical point of view throughout the translation stage, such as encoding issues for Asian languages. Before a translation starts, reliable outsources will perform a technical QA check to ascertain if all the tags in a document are correct, determine the character restriction per string and whether any special procedures need to be observed during the translation stage. If text assets are not duly verified from technical point of view, the game code can be corrupted and can cause severe issues to the developer.
Filipe Samora, translation manager at Testronic Labs thinks that outsourcing can mitigate many of the risks involved with localising games: “There are only few linguists out there who have hands-on experience translating games, and many translation agencies are not even aware of first and third-party standards and terminology.
“We have the knowledge of both worlds – we know how translation providers work and we know about developers’ schedules, workflow, and the terminology standards required. Our customised workflow allows developers and publishers to concentrate on their core activities, without having to worry about the quality of the translations and compliance with first-party standards.”
Publishers and developers are facing brand new challenges in the light of the economic downturn. Translation and localisation are becoming a central element in the development agenda, allowing publishers and developers to capitalise on new markets and diversify their revenue portfolio. Choosing a reliable outsourcer is, however, of paramount importance to ensure the success of multilingual video games.