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Game Localization: Overcoming Cultural Differences

How to localize games so that they make sense to users in other languages, keeping the social, cultural, and "otaku" elements intact.


Esports competition photo by Jamie McInall sourced via Pexels
Photo by Jamie McInall via Pexels

High demand for diverse and innovative gaming applications is increasing the need for fast and accurate translations that can preserve games’ social context. However, hardcore gamers view games as works of art and localization can create conflicts when users feel their expectations are not met when adapting an international game.

Backlash can be avoided if game developers engage in the localization process early so that they can identify potentially sensitive regional content. This would also limit uncreative translations that can negatively affect the gaming experience.

With the uncertain success of applications within very competitive markets, game providers cannot afford to spend an immense amount of time and money on additional product costs. Games are launching at a fast pace, with iterative product upgrades calling for additional instant translations that preserve the feel of the game at a meager price.

Some games are targeting international markets without emphasizing connotations of cultural specifics. Others grant their popularity based on exotic features of different worlds, may they be fictional, or real. Japanese games preserve their worldwide reputation also by the factor of cultural differentiation; therefore domesticating the content by translation would compromise gaming experience and cause incremental losses to gaming companies.

Racing car simulators at exhibition - photo by Jamie McInall via Pexels
Photo by Jamie McInall via Pexels

The diversity and the pace of gaming industry present a significant challenge to localization managers. It is tough to find optimal solutions that would translate games and its updates from Japanese to English (and other languages), while keeping the social, cultural and especially the "otaku" content intact.

In recent months Conyac has been paying particular attention to game localization. We have sourced our translators from gaming subculture itself, and we are delighted to book true gamers for corresponding translation jobs.

Japanese tap-action anime game Beast Breakers

We recently closed a translation contest with Tokyo Otaku Games for localization of tap-action game Beast Breakers, but we are planning further translation contests soon. Stay tuned for more!


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