Adapting video games into various cultural venues can be a challenge in this age of globalization. However, in order to be successful in the field, localization is a priority. Indeed, cultural adaptation cannot be overlooked as some games have failed because the adapted version was not culturally revised for the gamer. That is why developers must be cognizant about portraying a culture respectfully.
Adapting Video Games and Making Modifications
When you make modifications to the visual images in a game, you also make the game more desirable to its target audience. By conducting research, game developers can enhance character features so they are more culturally appealing.
For instance, the physique, clothing, and eyes of a character, including violence aspects, all need to be considered for localization. In addition, age ratings must be reviewed before localization is implemented.
Current age recommendations for players differ in various countries. Also, certain types of games are banned altogether. For instance, in Iran, games that feature intense violence or nudity are prohibited. On the other hand, German children as young as 10-years-old may purchase 12-rated games in their country with parental permission.
Review the Rating Systems Adopted by Specific Countries
Each country has its specific rating systems – systems that require that video games be rated before they can be released for play. Therefore, when adapting video games into a culture, developers must also review a country’s system for rating games.
Customizing a Translation
Another element of adapting video games has to do with customizing the translation of a game to cultural preferences. For example, subtitling may work well in come cultures while dubbing is preferred in others. Currently, the trend is to develop internationalized games. That way, it is easier to market a game as only slight changes are made during development.
Internationalization, itself, is a generalized term related to game design. This type of game development is done so a game will work out well in most locales. The term covers a host of items that impact a game at a technical level. Some of the technicalities include the following:
- Time/date formats
- Keyboard/controller layouts
- TV systems
- Text direction (Languages are written right to left as well as left to right)
- Currency format
Implementing Localization Early in Game Development
When internationalization is instituted, localization is considered at an early stage in game development. For instance, developers find it easier to develop code by focusing on localization than retro-fit a game later so it can be localized.
Using Directories for Localization
Therefore, the process involves separating localizable elements from other game components. Development teams store the elements in unique directories to make this happen. In turn, a localized game is produced by switching components in or out of various directories.
Expanding the Text
It is also important to allow room for the expansion of the text. Because a translated text is often lengthier than an original text, the basic rule of thumb is to permit an increase of 25%. This internationalization directive is particularly useful for interface layouts. You want to allow room for adding text when the content is dense.
Concatenation, which involves the linking of interconnected events or words, must be considered too. This process always presents difficulties for localization. If you can avoid sequential linking by employing a few additional strings, then go ahead and do so. However, if concatenation is used, you need to plan localization early and carefully.
When Subtitle in Used
If applicable, developers should also institute a subtitling system for speakers. This type of addition enables the gaming company to create a more affordable and efficient subtitled game representation.
Use the Proper-sized Fonts for a Game’s Language
Language support is also vital. Make sure that the fonts used in the game support the languages that will be used. The normal and most cost-effective method is to employ fonts for languages that are not currently supported by the game’s original fonts. If you are adding Asian ideographs, their detail makes it necessary to use font point sizes that are larger. Doing so makes the characters more legible.
Modifying the Keyboard
In addition, you need to consider the computer keyboard. An Input Method Editor or IME permits users of video games to press some standard keys in the proper sequence. Games that are developed for release in Asia must features this type of system.
Keying Patterns and Time and Date Formats
International keyboard layouts entail subtle differences as well. For instance, a US keyboard features the keying pattern of QWERTY while a French keyboard’s layout is AZERTY. Time format must be reviewed too. While some countries employ a format of 12 hours, others rely on a 24-hour format. Therefore, developers should set the time format for an easy change, based on the preference of a locale. You should also establish a switch for the date format. While some countries use month/day/year, others use day/month/year.
New Technologies and Methods for Translation
Adding new technological advances and narrative methods both have contributed to video game development. In addition, adapting video games in various cultures has allowed for more engagement between the user and story. Because the visual component of a game works with the sound features, the stories depend on more complicated narrative techniques. When viewed in this context, video games are similar to media, such as comics, novels, and movies.
Using Internationalization to Support Localization Activities
While movies and published materials are also translated and localized, the details involved in gaming make localization a challenge. That is why internationalization is helpful in localizing games. When you use this approach, you can better adapt your game to the audience you plan to target.
Keep the Culture in Mind to Enhance the Word Flow
In order to conform to gamers’ expectations, games should be created that stay in step with the player’s environment. When games condition the player culturally, the translation strategy is easier to follow.
Do you think games should first be internationalized first so localization can proceed more easily? What are your thoughts in this respect?