Staying on Top of the Game: Localisation Mistakes to Avoid

There’s no denying that video games have become an integral part of the millennial life. This is probably because they allow the gamer to lead an alternate life, full of adventure and challenges. Gaming is a truly global industry today- a $60 billion one.

In 2010, a video game distributor in Brazil revealed that a game localized into Portuguese multiplied its sales 15 times! This underlines the importance of video game localization: it also underlines the need for quality translation and localization.

In spite of the importance of game localization, companies make the mistake of opting for shoddy shortcuts which are costly to repair, bring bad publicity, and hurt sales.

What are the localization mistakes that gaming companies make?

#1. Cutting corners on translation
Many video game companies think that they have saved a buck by going in for machine translations or considering the cheapest translation option rather than the best.

Machines are the world away from producing the accuracy needed. Translation tools can also be a security threat by providing access to video game content to hackers via the Internet.

Also, anything that is typed in for translation is literally handed over to the translation tool provider: it becomes their data; they can do anything they want to with it.
Translation needs not just to be accurate, but retain the flavor and nuances of the original to breathe life into the translated version.

Mistranslation can make the game a frustrating experience for the player or make the game developer a laughing stock of the gaming world; in the worst -case scenario, it can land the developer into a legal soup.

Cutting corners on translation add to the work and the expense. The sensible thing would be to make the use of professional translation services which are not just competent and creative, but discreet as well. Making the translation agency sign a non-disclosure agreement can help the game developer relax while the localization is going on safely in expert hands.

#2. Hard coding text into core files
This is something that video game developers with limited vision do. It is a mistake to embed text elements like the menu text, game’s title, and on-screen, printed dialogue into core game files. If the text is stored in a separate resource file, it will be easy to incorporate a translated version by adding a new variable and providing the translation in a separate dedicated file. Much easier than digging through source code while translation?

#3. Painting all game text with the same brush
Some games involve specialized terminology. Take sports games; football terminology is not the same as basketball-tall talk. Translators and localisers for such games need to do some research. The need here is for “research-oriented text.”

Games like the popular and addictive Candy Crush come up with new gaming concepts. Such games are slotted as needing “creative-oriented text.”

Game developers should analyze their game content and decide which category of text is suitable. Text should be tailor-made to content, and the portfolio of the translator should match this need.

#4. Out-of-context game localization
Surely, there is little to be gained by handing over reams of text to translators and localisers who know little about the game or its content. Worse still, is expecting someone who has no idea about gaming to handle the job!

When game localization is of such importance, the more the translator knows about the game, the better will be the outcome. Translators should be encouraged to play the game being developed. Discretion and security are non-negotiable requirements, of course.

#5. Ignoring Cultural Factors
Each market is steeped in its own culture. Cultural sensitivity is necessary while localizing a game or the developer will risk alienating target audiences. This isn’t just about actual game content like the story, characters, situations, and events.

Consider the following:
A gaming giant had to recall 75,000 copies of a video game which used the chanting of the Quran in its soundtrack after a user raised objections to it.
The depiction of Japanese armies invading South Korea may be a slice of history; nevertheless, Seoul was offended by a game that showed just that.

Localization misdemeanors can range from showing alcohol to displaying blood and gore on screen. While localizing, video game developers will do themselves a favor by doing a thorough recce of the target market. Cultural gaffes are not to be taken lightly, and the adverse publicity surrounding them can kill the game if not the developing company.

#6. Failing to test game translations
The proof of the pudding is in the eating!
Translation does tend to change the length of the sentence. Translated strings may not fit the graphics or the elements of user interface. Coding may also leave some strings missing. All this can be avoided if developers test-drive their games on an actual device.

On-device localization testing can let you assess the overall quality of game localization while identifying the glitches at the same time. If the game has on-screen printed dialogue, autofitting the text to fit the text space is necessary.

#7. Poor management of translation content
Game developers must organize all the different formats and files – marketing copy, manual, packaging, app store descriptions, in-game interface text, and subtitles. The management of translations must be centralized to avoid mistranslations and duplications across the various types of content.

#8. Treating localization as an afterthought
Thinking of localization as the very last step in the development cycle is a costly mistake that many game developers make and land up missing great overseas opportunities. When copycat versions arrive in the local market, such companies find that they have painted themselves into a corner. It is only then that they think of finding fresh markets overseas. Localization at this “end” stage means reworking source code and building up translation materials from scratch: all of which cost time and money.

The solution is to wrap strings in the initial stages of video game development and to adopt coding styles of international standards.

There are many gamers overseas. The video game market is an ever-growing one. Professional and talented translation services can go a long way in perfecting video game localization.

Online Games: A Bittersweet Treat

They say the human body can go without food for 3 weeks, 3 days without water, typically 7-8 minutes without air. Did you notice I just listed the 3 essentials primarily needed to sustain human beings or life for that matter? The question is why all of a sudden I decided to go all science or encyclopedia on you.

What if I was to tell you while conveniently ignoring our evolution from monkeys, we have evolved to a level where these three things are no longer the only things that we need to sustain life. Knowingly unknowingly, intentionally or unintentionally, slowly and steadily it has crawled its way as one of the fundamentals for survival. I am of course talking about mobile phones and its minions (tablets, smartwatches and stuff).

If we all be honest with ourselves, I guess 90% people will agree with me when I say that we cannot live without our mobile phones for longer than a minute. Call it a force of habit, being enslaved to them or whatever but that is the sad truth that none of us want to face. With social networking playing a pivotal role in the lives of people of all age groups, people seem as if they are infused with a need to become “cool” and as a result, the need for mobile phones has risen drastically. That vibration and sound of receiving a message have become more imperative than eating, sleeping, and all day-to-day activities.

Phantom notification syndrome (the tendency of someone to believe they got a notification when they have actually not) is not just an observation about the youth but for almost all people with a “smartphone” these days. It is as if we have been programmed to check up on our phone every minute or two for no suggestive reason. And if it is not to check up on our zero messages it is either to take a selfie, or just to console ourselves we are looking fine, or to play games. In a very rare instance, it is a task outside these 3 categories.

And if we examine objectively, after messaging/texting/tweeting/Instagramming, the next favorite thing of people is to tire out their fingers playing games.

After WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram this is the thing in common in all devices. So simple and yet so addictive. The craze for the online game is such that at a point even I started playing it and I don’t remember how my following month passed. I mean there cannot be a single person who does not daily get flooded with games requests daily. It’s hard to put to words as to what makes the mobile game this addictive it’s dope sound effects, its ever-increasing difficulty as you progress, its simple interface, or what, is a mystery yet to be solved. But there is one thing laid down in concrete – it’s definitely going to stay a favorite among people for a long time to come.

Long Before Las Vegas – History of Gambling in the US

It’s hard not to think of the glittering lights and non-stop pace of the Las Vegas strip when you think of gambling. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week there are people crowded around the blackjack and roulette tables hoping to hit it big. Gambling has long been a topic that leads to heated debates for a long time. However, gambling in the United States has a history that dates us back a long time before Las Vegas came around.

Gambling can be dated back to the earliest days of settlers in the 17th century. Attitudes about gambling varied by settlements as each one was founded by different members of the British colonies. The Puritans outlawed pretty much any form of gambling including dice, cards and even private tables. There was a lot of hostility towards the thought of someone who made gambling their profession. The English on the other hand, saw gambling as a pleasant and harmless distraction from everyday life and it was a popular past time. Eventually, people came to blame the problems of the new colonies on gambling and acceptance of it waned.

Once the early 19th century rolled around, gambling was still prevalent throughout the United States but it had begun to take on new forms. Lotteries were a very popular way to raise revenue for the states. The proceeds from lottery profits were used to build public works building such as schools and churches. Another form of gambling that popped up in the 19th century was horse racing. It was not nearly as large nor as organized as horse racing today but this is the first time we see gambling taking on new forms.

As the settlers of the United States moved west, so did gambling. It began to take on a more organized form in the sense of casinos. The purpose of these establishments however was not so much to raise revenue for the community but to take advantage of those making the long trek west. During this time in the 1800s, criticism of gambling on moral grounds was increasing. Scandals throughout lottery institutions and more permanent gambling casinos that were taking advantage of people were hit hard by social reform and eventually most forms of gambling throughout the country was prohibited.

When the gold rush hit California in the mid 1800s, people were itching to spend their new found wealth and gambling found its new mecca. Gambling spread through the state like wild fire and both private and public parties were relying on the revenue. Eventually, the popular mind set against gambling made its way west to California and laws were set in place to limit gambling. By the end of the 19th century, most forms of gambling were illegal but this of course did not stop people – it simply drove them out of sight of the authorities.

Limits on gambling began to subside into the 20th century and by the time the Great Depression hit in the 1930s, the public attitude towards gambling eased up significantly. All of a sudden gambling was not seen as a crime but as a way to help stimulate the economy. Forms of gambling such as bingo and horse racing saw a huge comeback during this time period. It was also during the 1930′s that gambling as an industry was formed in the state of Nevada – by organized crime professionals. There is still a fine line to walk between the crime world and the legal political world when it comes to gambling and forms of gambling other than government regulated lotteries are illegal in most states. There will surely be another shift in how gambling is viewed in this country and there will probably never be an agreement on the moral implications of such a practice but, it is sure that gambling will continue to evolve.