Language translation is not a simple field, it has got many sub divisions depending upon the area for which language translation is required. Apart from having in-depth knowledge of required language, the skills, knowledge and techniques required for say, financial translation would be significantly different from the requirements of marketing or literary translation. In the same lines, there is an area of language translation known as game translation. With video games becoming popular all over the world and generating huge revenues, there are only a handful of companies from as many countries that produce cutting edge and highly popular video games. Now these companies originally produce the games in their native languages say English and Japanese. But the games are also highly popular among people who don’t speak or even understand these languages. Hence the companies need to translate and localize their games in order to reach their maximum potential market.
Game translation just like any other field of language translation has its own unique challenges. Some of the most common ones are –
Quite frequently game translation providers face the difficulty of lack of context. The source content is very often made of sets of strings or short sentences without any context to make them meaningful. Though apparently short sentences are easy to translate, the fact that they do not indicate specific meaning puts the translation provider in a position where he/she has to assume what the source content might be referring to in order to translate. The best way to deal with such a situation is to begin with collecting and studying all the information related to the project. The Internet can prove to be a big help. Game translators are advised to check out various websites that might be dealing with the software in hand or any of its previous versions. If one is lucky, translation buyers may sometimes deliver demo versions of the game or TM (translation memory) if they have it, along with the project. These can prove to be of big help.
If the translation customer is available for discussion then the translator can make a list of all doubtful or ambiguous sentences and get them clarified. However this strategy might not be relied upon in the case of emergency or short-term projects as there might not be enough time in hand that would allow the translator to wait for the customer’s clarifications. In such projects, its best to ask the customer at the outset to provide documentation related to the game (for example – glossary/terminology) that would help in understanding the context.
There is yet another problem and this one can prove to be the most limiting. It comes from the fact that all languages do not take equal amounts of space to express the same meaning. It is common knowledge among translation providers that languages like French, German or Italian take up more space than English, unfortunately this detail is not always taken into account while creating the UI of games. The result is that many time translations do not fit the space available in the UI. This forces the translator to cut down on the text but still convey the original meaning as closely as possible. But such translation is not always satisfactory.