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PC Games (Games) Entertainment Games

Quebec Cracks Down On Translated Videogames 261

Posted by simoniker
from the mais-oui dept.
Thanks to VE3D for their story revealing that the Quebec government is cracking down on videogames without complete French-language packaging, meaning that game stores in Quebec are having to return or amend significant portions of their stock. The article says that "...the likes of Electronic Arts, Sony and Microsoft have been following this law for sometime, but everyone else has ignored it", and a game store worker on the Gaming-Age forums indicates stores "...can't sell anything that doesn't have a French cover", so this new enforcement means that "...the cover that says 'Only on Xbox' must read 'Seulement sur Xbox'."
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Quebec Cracks Down On Translated Videogames

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  • Donnez-moi un certain bebe chaud d'amour de horney!!!

  • by foooo (634898) on Friday November 07, 2003 @02:34PM (#7418345) Journal
    The Canadians have silly regulations.

    More obvious news later today. Stay tuned.

    ~foooo
  • by Justen (517232) *
    It's funny that the anglophones call the francophones arrogant for asking that products in the francophone markets be, well, francophone.

    The bottom line is that it isn't just a good policy to translate the game and its packaging, it's a smart business move. The more people that can actually read and understand the packaging, potentially, counts as more people who might buy it.

    justen
    • Re:Yeah but... (Score:2, Insightful)

      by ERJ (600451)
      If it is in the companies best interest, it should be the company that does it to protect their interests. If it does not effect the companies bottom line, why should they be forced to do it? The government should not enforce it, free markets should.

      However, I am not from Canada, so I really have no say in such a matter.
      • Blah blah free markets.

        Look, I'm as down with that as the next person, being an Economics student, but this is about people trying to protect their linguistic heritage, surrounded as they are by 300 million anglophones.

        They're not forced to do it, they just can't sell their products unless they do it. They still have 300 million other customers (albeit a good 23million Canadians will still get evenly billingual packages).

        What does this even have to do with free markets?
        • Re:Yeah but... (Score:3, Insightful)

          by blincoln (592401)
          this is about people trying to protect their linguistic heritage, surrounded as they are by 300 million anglophones.

          No, it's about a small number of people trying to force a large number of them to isolate themselves from the rest of the world's languages.

          If the majority of Quebec's population wanted to speak pure French and nothing else, the government wouldn't have to do silly things like this, because English-labelled products wouldn't sell.
      • Actually, Canada does not have free market capitalism, at least not in the sense that Americans know it. We lean heavily towards socialism, and generally we are content with it that way. And that does in fact mean that the government should enforce these sorts of things, that's part of what socialism is all about.

        Personally I think it is nice to have a government you can hold accountable for the companies they regulate being able to abuse consumers, rather than being forced to blame it on free market econo
    • The bottom line is that it isn't just a good policy to translate the game and its packaging, it's a smart business move. The more people that can actually read and understand the packaging, potentially, counts as more people who might buy it.

      This doesn't explain why every Japanese game has english printed on it, and yet, the Japanese buy more games that almost any other country.
      • because it's cool.

        have you read those things that are on those packages?? most of the time it's just the name of the character or the game, and the rest is in japanese.

        heck, you can't play those games without knowing japanese either(you can try though, and some like ikaragua are quite playable) so it's little point for there to be any english text there except for coolness sake.

        anyways, just few of the biggest games get published with finnish text on the covers(anyways, i think the store should then be h
        • have you read those things that are on those packages?? most of the time it's just the name of the character or the game, and the rest is in japanese.

          It can be a combination of things (title, subtitle, system, characters). To be fair though, Xbox games in Japan do say "Only on Xbox" on them, in english.

          Then again, the xbox is selling like crap so perhaps these Quebec people have a point.
    • Re:Jesus. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Bastian (66383) on Friday November 07, 2003 @03:12PM (#7418709)
      While this is true, the problem doesn't seem to be products that have their packaging written entirely in English so much as products whose packaging is in some amalgam of English and French.

      I can understand why Quebec might want to pass a law agains this - prevention of dilution of the language an' all that. Actually, not really dilution of the language - as one of the most spoken languages in the world, French is hardly in any danger of disappearing from the face of the earth. I think the Quebequois are worried that their kids will just start speaking English, which would be a major step toward their disappearance as a distinct ethnic group.

      But still, I see two problems with this law other than the knee-jerk "stupid foreigners rejecting the God-Given language of the American People" reaction a lot of folks seem to be spouting on this subject.

      First - Does it outlaw a shopkeeper selling imported products which were never meant to be marketed in Quebec in the first place? (I'm thinking video games that haven't been translated into French.)

      Second, it seems like it could discourage commerce in Quebec. Requiring 100% of a product's packaging, even the small stuff that doesn't matter like an Official Nintendo Seal of Quality or somesuch, is increasing the bottom line for companies that wish to market products in Quebec, and might succeed in causing some products to simply not be sold there. Here I'm primarily thinking stuff that won't be sold outside of Canada or North America, where the french-speaking population is small enough to make such an increase in bottom line really matter.
      • > I think the Quebequois are worried that their
        > kids will just start speaking English, which
        > would be a major step toward their
        > disappearance as a distinct ethnic group.

        Good.

        Not because I hate French-Canadians, but because I hate distinctions between people. The less reasons we have to hate each other for being different, the better off the world will be. We need to start seeing ourselves as "human" much less than "Japanese", "European", etc.

        Oh, and I'll note that I'm Italian-American, I
        • So who gets to decide what culture we should all be amalgamated into?

          At the risk of veering further off-topic:

          We shouldn't try to make our differences disappear, we should try to respect them.

          It isn't just a warm and fuzzy statement, it's a reality that would make this world a much better place to live in. In the meantime, however, game companies should be respecting the cultural and linguistic differences in the markets which they hope to sell their game in. If they can't respect those differences, an
          • I assume we all decide what culture we'd like to be amalgamated into. I just think we should relax the paranoia that perhaps by elevating "humanity" to a higher status than our inividual cultural differences, we'll "lose our identity". How silly. Like I said, I have no problem being Italian, being American, and being Human. I try not to be attached to any of those concepts too strongly :-).

            I just think rigid thinking, and the tendency to make it "us" vs. "them", is, well, bad (duh).

            I totally disagree
      • try spanish & it's other vairants.
        you sir, are full of crap
    • It is not asking, it the guys with guns forcing you to do it.
    • by El (94934)
      If it costs me $10,000 to translate the game and it only sells 100 copies, that is not good policy, it's stupidity. That's just like saying "All games should be ported to Linux, because then they would sell 1% more copies." Sometimes pleasing everyone just doesn't make economic sense.
    • Why are you surprised that US residents/citizens would find fault with a government restricting what in the US would be someone's freedom of speech?

      In the US, game companies are free to sell games in whatever language they wish. Louisiana, for example, could not pass and enforce a similar law because it would be determined unconstitutional when challenged in court.

      Quebec and Canada can do what they want. Few people here in the US would advocate sending troops to Montreal in an effort to liberate Frenc

  • by gmhowell (26755) <gmhowell@gmail.com> on Friday November 07, 2003 @02:47PM (#7418471) Homepage Journal
    "Canada sucks"
    "US sucks more"
    "We're Americans too"
    "France sucks"
    "Drug costs"

    Have I missed anything?
  • by mcSey921 (230169) <mcsey@ya[ ].com ['hoo' in gap]> on Friday November 07, 2003 @02:47PM (#7418472) Homepage Journal
    All the rudeness, none of the scenery. /me ducks.
  • by Blob Pet (86206) on Friday November 07, 2003 @02:54PM (#7418544) Homepage
    This has been a problem for a while now for merchants in Quebec, and there have been numerous stories [www.sfu.ca]. What gets me is that even if you only speak English, your signs and advertising still have to have French in it. Just silly.
    • What gets me is that even if you only speak English, your signs and advertising still have to have French in it.

      I'm not sure about all of Canada, but at least in Quebec I beleive the laws for signs are they must be both French and English (or another language, like Chinese for the large Chinese population in the region, but with the French more prominent) or only in French.

      I could be wrong, but I beleive this is how it is, at least in Quebec.

      Thursdae

      • Law 101 which says that signs must be billingual is a Quebec law therefore it's only valid in Quebec. In fact, this law is considered anti-constitutionnal, but it prevails because of a special law call "clause nonobstant" (I don't know the name in english, sorry), which lets a government make an "unfair" law if it's for the good of the majority. It's not "exactly" that way it's formulated in law books, but that's mostly it.
  • Quit whining... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gamgee5273 (410326) on Friday November 07, 2003 @02:58PM (#7418580) Homepage Journal
    ...and I mean the posters, not the Quebecois!

    I'm not going to defend the status quo in Quebec or the shaky relationship they have with the rest of Canada. Those struggles are up to the the Canadians to figure out.

    HOWEVER, I will defend the right of the Quebecois government to uphold their laws and the laws of Canada. Those laws were put in place for a reason, a legitimate reason, and, being an American who lives in Detroit and travels to Canada (including Montreal) quite frequently, I think it is an imperfect, but workable, solution to the social and cultural issues Canada faces.

    As for the software publishers:

    Everyone else can translate their packages for the Canadian market. You can, too. It just isn't that hard of an undertaking. My suggestion is that the publishers take a hint from many of the DVDs sold in Canada: use reversible cover inserts in the keep cases. One side is Canadian English, one is Quebecois French.

    • I think it is an imperfect, but workable, solution to the social and cultural issues Canada faces.
      Wait, which social and cultural issues? Because, you know, societies and cultures change all the time. At least living ones do.
      • Yes, they do. And Canada has to face issues of cultural difference and how that affects the society at large. This issue is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the problems Canada has to deal with on this front.

        Not a difficult concept.

    • by Andy_R (114137) on Friday November 07, 2003 @03:25PM (#7418834) Homepage Journal
      The problem is that this is a cynical anti-competitive law, designed to make it difficult for other countries to sell products into Quebec.

      There clearly is a market for English-only products, or they wouldn't be on the shelves. The removal of these games harms the consumer who can't buy them and the games company who is losing a sale.

      The only beneficiary of this restriction on free trade is the Quebec economy.
      • Not that I agree entirely with it, but the law in question was actually designed originally to "protect the french languange in Quebec" seeing as the province is in a (mostly) english-speaking country. It came at the time in a response to the problem for the french-speaking population to actually understand the signage in its environment, since much of the companies/etc. were run primarily by the english-speaking. However, this did not have entirely the desired effect (of course, this depends on perspectiv
      • by Scrameustache (459504) on Friday November 07, 2003 @04:10PM (#7419244) Homepage Journal
        The problem is that this is a cynical anti-competitive law, designed to make it difficult for other countries to sell products into Quebec.

        No, its really not. Its an anti-assimilation law designed to protect the culture of Quebec.

        There clearly is a market for English-only products

        Why the fuck am I forced to buy Japanese games in english? They are clearly willing to do some translating, bub. This is just an incentive to do it for us too. And they aren`t even obliged to translate the actual game, the law is only about packaging.

        Cereal boxes are in french, why not game boxes?
        • No, its really not. Its an anti-assimilation law designed to protect the culture of Quebec.

          Is it really the culture of the people if the law is forcing them to act that way? Why not, I don't know, let the ACTUAL behavior of the people determine the culture instead of creating laws to artifically preserve it?
        • You've clearly never distributed a game.

          The law covers the box, the manual, and "accompanying documentation" which would include that which comes on the disk. A cereal box is about 1 page of text long. The manual for Master of Orion 3 was 159 pages long. With additional QA time, expect the translating job to add roughly 30k to a project. Then there is the cost of new plates at a local factory, pressing the region-specific games with French logos, etc. Add in the overhead of subdividing your Canadian m
          • Because of this, only guaranteed successes will be available in Quebec... No Rez for you.

            Funny, I've got Rez loaded up on my PS2 here and the in-game instructions and menus are in French!

            While this would mean making a trip to the local importer in any other country, in Quebec that too is banned.

            Man, you clearly have never set foot in Montreal's china town.

            One can argue that they have the right to enforce their own laws, but the marginalization of the Quebec Gaming Industry is going to be the resul
          • French is not spoken only in Quebec. They can do one translation for all francophones countries (population > 7.5 millions).
      • This is a societal and cultural issue. The point is that the government is willing to sacrifice economic efficiency to protect it's cultural heritage.

        Not every problem is best framed in an economic context.

        And really, is it that hard to print the damned packages with French on them? If I buy a game in Toronto, chances are the manuals have French sections - somebody has already written the copy. All food products in English Canada already have ingredients listed in both languages.

        The fact is Quebec is (if
  • Please.. don't say things about 'and you wonder why we don't like the french'.. The people of france don't like people from Quebec either. They are our equivalent of the Deliverance movie.

    Anyways, on a real note, the law is FRENCH must be 2x larger writing than english on all signs (and I'm assuming video games cases)
  • Game not available because the Frogs cleaned out the local gamestore for not complying with their language policies? Look no further than broadband my friend! PC, PS2, Xbox, and GBA games - all in English/Engrish [engrish.com]. Be sure to tell the local Quebec politicos that they're losing money because of language bias. Meanwhile, in the US, businesses can sell stuff in whatever langauge they want.
  • Quebec can eat me. Stupid bilingual state...
    Le Quebec peut me manger. Etat bilingue stupide...

  • Okay. Usually I'd be the first one to argue against localisation of games, as I fully believe that entertainment should be experienced in the original language (this includes anime, films, and yes, even books if you can swing it.)

    However, so many video games have such shaky audio dialogue that there's really no point in keeping the original. Might as well dub the entire game.

    Menus are no problems. Any idiot can figure out what "save" and "load" are in French.

    The only problem I see with this law is

  • Quebec is one of the harder to understand parts of Canada because of the French bit.

    Quebec's nationalists are of the opinion that their culture is eroding because of the diminishing prevalence of French. To them, the language essentially is the culture, and if their own citizens do not use the language, then they are culturally screwed. Aside from the language, the only thing that Quebec has to set it apart from the rest of Canada is a vague reputation of flagrantly indulging in social substance abuse (h
  • I WAS a French Canadian, and I have left because I could speak english and pursue better opportunities. (...but that's besides the point...)

    This is a superficial law. The Quebec laws require the PACKAGING to be bilingual. The handbook and instructions will be bilingual as well. However, the actual game itself (speech, sound, and subtitles) remains the same.

    Have people ever noticed that you pay slightly higher prices in Quebec because of that? The extra revenue apparently goes into "language programs" such
    • I WAS a French Canadian, and I have left because I could speak english and pursue better opportunities. (...but that's besides the point...)

      Vendu.

      If Quebec wants exceptions, then let themselves be seperated from the everyone else.

      We're TRYING!
      2 referendums and counting.
    • I WAS a French Canadian, and I have left because I could speak english and pursue better opportunities.

      Obviously, they are afraid that if all the intelligent people learn proper English, they will ALL get the hell out, leaving only those too stupid to be bi-lingual? (And no, I'm not predjudiced against French speakers, it's my wife fourth language. And when our housemates kids come over, I put on DVDs in French, as that's their first language. I recommend Spirit, it's watchable without understanding the

  • by orthogonal (588627) on Friday November 07, 2003 @03:39PM (#7418943) Journal
    Of course this is offensive, and petty: the Quebecois are so worried about being absorbed in the the English-speaking majority of Canada (not to mention the cultural behemoth just to the south), that they limit their own people's right to purchase software they want.

    Oh, you want that leet new First Person Shooteur, little Laurant? I'm afraid you can't have it ShootEmUp Games doesn't translate their box into la belle langue. You'll just have to envy the American kids and the kids in British Columbia you chat with in IRC. Maybe you'll end up so warped you become the next "Star Wars Kid", playing with your "light-sabre" in a closet.

    But I think there's a simple solution that will allow Laurant his game (and his dignity), while sticking a finger in the eye of the tight-assed Quecbec goverment.

    I call the solution Frauxcais. It's the French equivilent to "Engrish [engrish.com]".

    The Japanese (and other Asian countries) produce "English" translations that seem almost to be parody -- but are sincere but inept attempts to translate into English, because they want to sell to the large English speaking market.

    There's no large Francophone market (apparently, or else the companies would produce translations just for the market share), so we'll intentionally produce fractured, ambiguous, meaningless French, and slap it on bozes for export to Quebec:
    • "Les salivates verts de vache violemment." ("The green cow salivates fiercely.")
    • "Actuellement bientot le bouton au fondle." ("Presently soon the button to fondle")
    • "Baton sur la lumiere artificielle lentement, pleasuring la boisson." ("Stick upon lamplight slowly, pleasuring beverage.")
    We print these out on sticky address labels, plaster them on the game box, and, as the French say, viola!, violin!, chello!
    • But I think there's a simple solution [...]
      I call the solution Frauxcais. It's the French equivilent to "Engrish".


      The law covers that too.

      Running the text through a dictionary and producing garbled messes in a long tradition that doesn't apply only to your culture, you self centered insensitive clod.
    • The solution to the stupidity the Quebec government keeps showing regarding language laws is quite simple:

      Don't sell product in Quebec. Don't bow to their idiocy.

      When the population can't get their XBoxes, they'll squawck loud and long. The government will have to loosen their regulations.
  • You can't program in C because all the keywords aren`t in french.

    si{x==0)
    {
    travaillez
    }
    autrement
    {
    effectuez l'autre travail
    }
  • The rule is valid only on the manuals, not on the product themselves. There are ten of thousand of CDs and DVDs that DON'T HAVE french on them and are legal. The law only states that manuals should be in french.

    The Law 101 is about the displays in commerces. It says that you must at least have a display in french twice as big at the english one. Whether you agree or not with this, this law doesn't have anything to do to a products cover.
  • That is one obvious solution. Simply ignore Quebec and sell you wares to the remaining 60% of North America that speaks English.

    Of course, Quebec is the second most populous province of Canada, so you would certainly give up a large portion of the market. I would guess that the cost of translating the minimal amount of text to French (game package, manual) is more than offset by the profit generated by the Quebec market.

    Game manufacturers obviously translate their games for other countries, so what is the
  • If Quebecois only by games with all-French packaging, then the game companies would be forced to supply them. The fact that people are actually buying products with mixed-language packaging would seem to indicate that the average citizen doesn't really care. I personally cannot comprehend why some people are so fanatical that they feel compelled to legislate what is best handled by simple economics.
    • I personally cannot comprehend why some people are so fanatical that they feel compelled to legislate what is best handled by simple economics.

      Because not everyone has your unwavering faith in the holy Market.

      You think that the Great Economy will solve all woes, but we are not all as religious as you.

      Been on your pilgrimage to wall street recently?
      • Market forces work very well in situations where all players are infinitessimally small, and thus no one player or group of players can have an undue influence on the market. Market forces fail in the allocation of shared resources (Tragedy of the Commons), when some players have undue influence, or when some players can corrupt the government to unduly tilt the market in their favor -- the Quebec governemnt appears bent on encouraging this latter behaviour. Local businesses can't compete with international
  • Normally, I don't post angry on /. but some of the posts in this thread are pissing me off. People who post trash like "Damn Quebecers!" and trash all Quebecois for a stupid law are either assholes, trolls or just stupid.

    There are some incredibly stupid laws on the books in the US lately but it doesn't occur to anyone to blame the guy on the street. /.ers should know that the DMCA, the Patriot Act etc does not necessarily reflect them or their opinion personally. Most Quebecois could care less about the
  • What about games written in C++?

    Do they have to translate those too? I don't even know if French is Turing complete :\

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