Language Variances in Game Design: Factors to Consider

Language variances and subtleties exist in video game designs because of cultural differences in translations.

Language Variances in Game Design - Factors to Consider

Therefore, you have to factor in the following elements when you are creating a video game in more than one language:

  • Many games have their own jargon, which makes it difficult for some translators to convert the words into another language.
  • While there is a set vocabulary across languages that covers poplar fictional creatures, newly-formed words challenge translators. Not only do video game writers invent new creatures, they also produce new names for equipment, weapons, or tools.
  • The idea of game-play is to immerse the player.  Unfortunately, language variances can produce the opposite effect. Therefore, translators must know the lingo of gaming in order to create immersive content.

 How Much Space Do You Need?

You also have to consider the amount of space a language uses in a video game. European languages normally consume about 50% more space than English. English, on other hand, is twice as long as Japanese. Happily, certain techniques can be employed to test length. For example, Pig Latin can be used in the User Interface (UI). If it fits well inside the space, longer languages, such as German, will fit well too.

Localization supports worldwide game play. Therefore, a video game with a global following is one that has been localized for a target location or language. You do not have to change the coding if localization is properly applied

Think in Terms of Ideas and Sentences

The whole idea of being an effective translator then is to think in terms of ideas and sentences. Therefore, understanding the vocabulary of a video game requires this kind of review. The translated words should be derived from the context.

To translate a language correctly too, you need to make the distinction between translation and localization. Translation is the process of altering an original language by the substitution of words. Localization is more specialized as it modifies the content for a particular region. Cultural appeal is enhanced when content is localized.

So, not only do you have to understand gamer jargon, you need to know something about a country’s trends, likes and dislikes. Otherwise a game will lack engagement. Players must be able to relate to a game in order to enjoy gaming activities.

Types of Cultural Content

Content does not merely include words and phrases, it also includes a locality’s symbols, meanings, and values. Examples of cultural content include the following:

  • Images, graphics, and icons
  • Colors, sizes, styles, and shapes
  • Societal codes, such as etiquette, myths, and symbols
  • Societal values, such as relationships, beliefs, and power

You also have to assess the functional content, such as geographical references and weights and measurements. Symbols mean different things in different countries. Therefore, a game must be translated specifically for its audience. Otherwise, you lose the import of the translation.

Translators must also consider the devices used for game play. For example, a game that is regularly played on one device may not sell in another country. If the country does not regularly use the device, then a translation is pointless. Therefore, the translated copy for a game must be designed for the main gaming device.

In addition, translators need to be aware of the nuances of certain words. For example, if you localize for a market, the native language may feature words that vary in meaning, depending on where they are spoken. You need to consider the tone of voice too. Interpreted words can be incorrectly perceived if the tone of the language is not clear or understood.

Needless to say, language variances exist in gaming lingo as well as the languages themselves. That is why these kinds of distinctions must be carefully interpreted and observed.