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Games Entertainment

Inside Video Game Localization 90

Atlus USA is a company known for their skill at localizing games — that is, adapting the text and speech in a game to a different language or culture. They've written a summary of their timeline for modifying a game, explaining that it's much more complicated than just running everything by a translator. They also have other articles looking at various parts of their work with more detail. When work begins, they take a few weeks to familiarize themselves with the game, giving them the proper context to understand character interactions and names. The actual translation then takes anywhere from a week to a few months, depending on how much material there is and whether they need to bring in new voice actors. Another month or so is allotted to actually implementing the changes and making technical modifications, after which another month or two is dedicated to bug testing. Then the game is submitted back to its original manufacturer for approval, a process that can take two months, and finally the new discs and game boxes are created, which adds another month. Thus, what many gamers see as a "simple" localization process can take six months or more to complete.
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Inside Video Game Localization

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  • Re:Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MichaelSmith ( 789609 ) on Sunday July 26, 2009 @07:17AM (#28825889) Homepage Journal
    Maybe the law requires documentation, at least, to be in the local language?
  • by troll8901 ( 1397145 ) <> on Sunday July 26, 2009 @07:49AM (#28825989) Journal

    "All your base are belong to us" is perfectly grammatically-correct in Chinese and possibly other languages. It might not be perfect, but it's still understandable.

    I'd be glad if computer translation of 2009 can produce such accurate results! Look at what Google and Babelfish says.

    Google: "You are our base, all you CATS."
    Babelfish: "Everything CATS received your base."

  • Re:Why? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gaspyy ( 514539 ) on Sunday July 26, 2009 @08:21AM (#28826103)

    Same thing in my country (Romania). For some reason everyone prefers subtitles. One big TV network tried about 10 years ago to dub a soap opera... they spent a fortune on advertising but everyone hated it - it was such a massive flop no one ever tried it again. I have some dubbed Disnay movies but they translated the songs too - and guess what, my 5 year old son prefers the originals.

    As for software, I know a few people forced to use translated Office versions. All of them grumble as they need to map the terminology used.

    Good translations are hard, especially when the source material is heavy; this is apparent when works of the same author are translated by different people. LoTR had a wonderful translation, while The Hobbit, although technically correct, had no 'flavour'. To stay in the realm of fantasy and give you an example, the name 'Diagon Alley' from Harry Potter missed it completely.

  • Re:Why? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by JJJK ( 1029630 ) on Sunday July 26, 2009 @08:49AM (#28826231) Homepage

    That's still better than in Germany, where they dub ALL the movies and tv shows. It sounds awful, and many things get lost in translation, including acting, jokes and meaning. The best you can hope for are DVDs where you can switch to original audio and use subtitles if you don't speak the original language.

    Games are even worse. When they are dubbed they get even more horrible voice actors. We use a lot of english words for recently developed things, but those tend to get translated as well, making the whole thing look really weird. And like that's not enough, games are considered to be the root of all evil over here and either get censored or banned. So if you want to experience a game like the developers intended (and endanger your fragile little mind), you need to buy it somewhere else, like the UK.

    I really envy all countries where there is no dubbing (The polish idea of dubbing is a little different, but it doesn't suck any less). Imagine all B+-list-actors each had like one of three different voices. Just that nobody seems to care, since everybody grew up with it.

  • Re:Atlus (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Toonol ( 1057698 ) on Sunday July 26, 2009 @04:39PM (#28829691)
    That's the goal of the adaption. They aren't trying for academic veracity; they're making an entertainment product. When the original game has an obscure joke comparing a Japanese pop idol to a historical figure from the Heian period, the translators will (and should) make an entirely different joke based on Britney Spears and Can-Can dancers... or maybe something entirely unrelated, which still works for characterization and plot. The craft and style of the translated product is more important than the accuracy.
  • Re:Why? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by CrashNBrn ( 1143981 ) on Sunday July 26, 2009 @11:50PM (#28832877)
    That's easy enough to understand, just compare the English dubbed Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon to the original with subtitling. Albeit some in my direct family prefer the English version. I literally couldn't stand it. When you take something that is Art and dub it, it becomes something else - more easily digestible media perhaps. Easy to digest, and bland.

As of next Tuesday, C will be flushed in favor of COBOL. Please update your programs.