What should I know about video game translation?

February 19, 2022

Translation services for video game translation are something that clients may be struggling to find.

Translation services are not just about replacing words with equivalent terms in another language. It’s challenging to translate some games because it requires experience not just of the source text but also its cultural context.

The first thing you should know about video game translation is that there are many different types of translation involved depending on what you want to be translated. Video game translation has different levels of translation, e.g.: voiceover translation, subtitle translation, menu translation, dialogue translation, etc., so each one must be considered separately when looking at costs and deadlines.

  • translation of voiceover- translation of subtitles
  • translation of the menu
  • translation of the dialogue
  • translation of user interface (UI)

The voiceover translation is the only part that is done without the need for localization. The video game industry has long since realized that subtitles don’t make sense for dubbed dialogue, so they are not used in most games natively translated into English.

If you want subtitles, then you should definitely hire a translator who knows how to work with them, as well as one who can localize into your target language. You will also need to consider whether or not the translation will be customized to fit the text size and formatting requirements for each supported platform – PC, Xbox 360, Wii/U, PS3/Vita. The translation of the menu might seem trivial because it consists only of text, but this is also an important step in localization because it requires translation memory expertise.

The translation of dialogue should not be taken lightly either, even though it appears to be just replacing words. You need to consider how much can be translated without affecting gameplay, making sure that there are enough subtitles to convey all content in the game. To make things trickier, some games have thousands of lines in multiple languages, which will require a lot more time and money than you may think at first glance.

The translation of the user interface should only be considered by companies with the localization department to translate it correctly. It’s not a translation job because it has nothing to do with translation at all, but preparing translation files requires technical translation knowledge and expertise in layout translation.

If your budget is tight and you can’t afford a full localization project for video game translation, you might try faster ways such as Google Translate or other machine translation tools to build up translation memory. This will save time if you need subtitles, but never use machine translation for dialogue because it will produce horrible results! In any case, build your translation memory carefully because this data is invaluable when planning future projects.

Also, keep in mind that translation is not the only aspect of localization, you need to use translation memories and terminology databases to make sure that all text fits the technical requirements for translation and layout files. You can also upload your translation files directly in your CMS or CRM to automate translation and save time and money on video game translation services.

Hope this article has given you a better understanding of video games translation and how it works!

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Andi Perullo de Ledesma

I am Andi Perullo de Ledesma, a Chinese Medicine Doctor and Travel Photojournalist in Charlotte, NC. I am also wife to Lucas and mother to Joaquín. Follow us as we explore life and the world one beautiful adventure at a time.

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