Video Game Localization

>> Now, video game is massive trend in this world, starting from children until parent play it. The game which they played is one of product of localization. First of all, the word of localization is rare in our ear, localization is one of a new field activity for language experts, and it is linked to digital media and computer products where technology is deeply involved and making it linguistically and culturally appropriate to the target locale (country region and language) where it will be used and sold (Esselink 2000:3). – Video Game Localization

Video Game Localization

The terminological issues describing translation and localization are acknowledged by LISA who state that localization goes beyond translation and making the product readily available in the form and language of the target market.

In this case the writer prefers to explain about video game localization focusing on the different strategies to be used from the point of view of Translation Studies. As the narrative techniques and the story lines of video games have become more complex and well-developed, the adaptation of games entails a serious challenge for translators.

Video Game Localization

Video games have evolved into multimodal and multidimensional products and new approaches and insights are required when studying the adaptation of games into different cultures. Electronic entertainment provides an interesting and barely explored corpus of analysis for Translation Studies, not only from the point of view of localization but also as long as audiovisual translation is concerned.

1. Domestication vs. Foreignization

The classic distinction defined by Venuti (1995) is intended to establish a difference between translations aimed to keep a ‘foreign flavour’ or those texts adapted to the particular features and standards of the target culture. Foreignization strategies are intended to keep the look and feel of the original game and transfer the atmosphere and the taste of the source culture into the target locale.

Video Game Localization

A fairly good example of a successful foreignization strategy can be observed in Assassins’ Creed, where the original atmosphere and taste of the Italian culture has been effectively preserved in the destination locales.  On the other hand, domesticating strategies aim to bring the game closer to the target culture. Final Fantasy, provides a good example of domesticating strategies.

2. No Translation

Beyond the different levels of localisation a game may have -no localisation, partial localisation, docs and box, complete localisation-, a no translation strategy can be used by the translator at any given point of the game. The no translation of certain names, terms, places or expressions may be subject to a wider foreignization strategy. A well-known case of a no translation strategy can be found in the widespread saga Street Fighter.

3. Transcreation

Transcreation can be considered as a crosswise strategy that might be used and applied at certain points in any title. Mangiron and O’Hagan (2006) provide several examples of transcreation in the analysis of the role game Final Fantasy X, wherE American localizers created new names from scratch for weapons and armours that could not be literally adapted due to space restrictions.

4. Literal Translation

Literal Translation is when the SL (source language) grammatical constructions are converted to their nearest TL (target language) equivalents, but the lexical words are again translated singly, out of context. Racing cars like Forza Motorsport 3, Gran Turismo 4, Formula 1 2011 or the Test Drive series provide databases with complete information about car design and development and the game preferences allow users to adjust the car to fit their preferred driving style. This is an acceptable approach in video games and it may turn to be particularly effective in the case of sports titles, racing games or simulators, where there is a good amount of technical words and specific terminology.

5. Loyalty

Translators must keep a balance between the transcreation or the freedom to adapt the contents in order to achieve an appropriate game experience in the target audience with the loyalty to the original source of the video game.  The concept of loyalty (Nord 1997: 125) or the fidelity to the source text might be relevant in the adaptation of those video games based on literary works or other materials, as the preservation of the atmosphere of the story will be a key element in order to meet the expectations of the target audience. loyalty can be also seen in games recreating historical events or settings, like Age of Empires where a good number of civilizations like the Persian, the Phoenician or the Egyptian ones were represented trying to keep a certain degree of accuracy as long as the items and the features of these people were concerned.

6. Loss of Meaning and Compensation Strategies

In this paper there is a partial or total loss when translating the text, translators may engage in partial rewriting in order to “negotiate functional equivalents” that will allow to compensate for the loss of meaning (Di Marco, 2007). The adaptation of humour is a particularly difficult feature to be achieved by translators, as the use of word plays or puns is becoming more and more usual in video games and they may be extremely difficult to translate from the source into the target culture; this may be observed in the adaptation of Batman Arkham Asylum into Spanish, where there are a number of puns and riddles that cannot be effectively transferred into the target language without suffering a partial or a total loss in meaning. The impossibility to convey the message into the target culture might be frequently seen as long as puns, word plays or humour are involved.

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