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GCG Feature: 'Localization and the Cultural Concept of Play'

Localizing a game requires more than just translating text into other languages. Miguel Á. Bernal-Merino of Roehampton University London, who won the 2006 LRC Best Scholar Award for his work on the localization of games, explains
November 01, 2007
Localizing a game requires more than just translating text into other languages, a topic that that’s reexamined from an academic’s viewpoint in a new feature article on GameCareerGuide.com. What do developers need to know to maximize their global reach? And who are the different players to make that happen? Author Miguel Á. Bernal-Merino, a lecturer in media translation at Roehampton University London who won the 2006 LRC Best Scholar Award for his work on the localization of games, begins to probe the issues at hand in this excerpt from the article: ”Similarly to when we read a book or watch a film, in video games there is often text and dialogue to be read, listened to, or watched. Both in literary and film terms, the author or director wants us to empathize with the protagonist and follow his or her story. As readers and viewers, we accept the non-influential nature of this relationship with the central characters of these creations. We are spectators of a story we cannot change nor even influence in the slightest mode. Video games aim at establishing a different type of relationship with players, that of ‘masters of their destiny.’ That is not to say that games are boundless, since there is normally a very clear goal, mission, or quest to fulfill, but the way players reach that end is always unique to their personalities and is linked to their own skills in prevailing over the challenges the game throws at them. What this means for the localization team is that they have to enthuse players from other cultures with the same energy the game delivered to the original culture, and give them the right information, in the right style so that they can beat the game feeling like the hero the game advertises. The place of origin or the language of development of the game is not relevant to the game experience itself. When gamers play and immerse themselves in the virtual world of the game, the game needs to be talking to them at all levels in order not to break the suspension of disbelief. But how can developers and localizations teams achieve this?” You can now read the full article, “Localization and the Cultural Concept of Play” on GameCareerGuide.com.

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