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How to be successful at game localisation

This blog post was updated on 11 October 2022.

Whether you are a gamer or not, you probably know the names of a video game or two. This form of entertainment is extremely popular, and its industry is ever-expanding. With the increasing global demand for games, the translation and localisation industries play a major role, making it possible for games created in one language and one country to reach millions of people around the world.

Game localisation allows the users’ experience to be as positive as possible, by making them feel like the game was originally created in their language, even if it was in fact translated.

Having said this, game localisation is extremely complex, because games themselves are getting more and more complicated: characters, storylines and game features are always being re-invented to provide a better experience for users.


What is online gaming?

Online gaming is a type of gaming which allows you to join in the experience with other players from around the world, and to play the game alongside them. A consequence of the introduction of online gaming are e-sports – competitions which see groups of gamers competing against each other – where some of the players even make a living out of it.

In order to keep the players interested, games have to be improved and expanded constantly, by introducing new features and involving more and more countries.

Online gaming around the world

As of October 2022, China, the US and Japan shape the market with over 1 billion gamers and around USD 120 billion in annual revenue in these three countries alone. The UK also has 39 million gamers and almost USD 6 billion in annual revenue, which means that over half of the UK population are gamers. Needless to say, these are just the tip of the gaming stats. The industry is one which grows year-on-year and continues strongly in its global reach.

What to keep in mind in game localisation

Language differences, of course, are the main aspect to bear in mind. When translating from English, the text usually expands. This can be a problem when it comes to online games, as there are specific character limits to be respected in order for the text to fit on the screen. It is important for gaming companies to recognise this, and keep it in mind during the game design process; a game designed to be translated will make the process of game localisation much easier than one which was designed without translation in mind at all.

Project deadlines are another constraint. The gaming industry moves at a fast pace, and translations generally need to be received and tested way before the game is launched, to avoid any last-minute issues. This means that translators are under immense pressure to deliver on time.

A lack of context can also considerably complicate a project. When translators receive text from games to be translated, they are rarely provided with the context. This is likely to generate issues, especially when it comes to gender. English is a genderless language, and when online games get translated, decisions need to be made on the gender of words. Translators need references in order to do this accurately. The ability to fully understand what is going on in the game, as well as the individual characters, is essential for a translator working in online game localisation.

Want to learn more?

I hope this blog post has provided a useful introduction to the world of game localisation. To learn more, check out Webcertain’s full, in-depth guide on this topic. From reading the guide, you will learn:

  • the process of video game localisation
  • 5 common challenges in video game localisation and how to overcome them
  • what the future holds for the gaming industry
  • things to think about beyond the game itself
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Ana Cortes Molino

Translation Project Coordinator at Webcertain
Ana is a Translation Project Manager at Webcertain where she actively manages translation and localisation requests, liaising directly with clients. Ana joined Webcertain Translates in June 2016, quickly adapting to the flow of work and expanding her knowledge on website translation and other fields, such as international SEO. Ana started her career in the translation and project management world in 2012 after completing her Master’s Degree in Localisation and New Technologies. She has worked on a variety of translation and localisation projects over the past 4 years, gathering knowledge and expertise around marketing, gaming, legal, technical and website translation. Ana is originally from Spain, and now lives in the UK.

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