Familiarizing With Video Games as a Translator
Updated: Jan 18
In the previous post, among other things, we talked about market trends. An efficient way to grow as a freelance translator - but in any career path, really - is to intercept and follow rising trends.
Video games surely are one of the biggest trends in the global market. We're not only talking about the rising number of products, but also about their exponentially higher quality that dwarfs even blockbuster movies. Also, video games are here to stay in the long term, given their wide and diversified audience of gamers, from youngsters to elders. Specializing in video game localization requires first and foremost to familiarize yourself with them if you're to reach a relatively 'green' segment of the language market. Read on.
Game Localization Is No Game
To work as a language expert for video games, you require a particular skill set. But first and foremost, you have to like video games and be immersed in that world to understand them.
Unlike movies, where you have pretty much the whole contextual information about the product in a video player where you can scrub back and forth in the timeline, or a manual, where you can go back and forth to each part of the document, or a website, where you can browse the different pages, a video game is an interesting combination of all those things.
So, you need to be familiar with and prepared to localize a wide range of content types. Many video games have a dedicated website, something quite complex, with guides and articles. They have promotional videos (trailers), in-game cutscenes, dialogue between characters, and user interface text - all occasionally interspersed with programming code.
Playing Games to Familiarize With the Content
Sounds challenging? It is. I've been a gamer since four, and a game translator since fourteen. I feel lucky to be born at the 'dawn' of the video game industry as we know it today. Whether you have the same luck or not, what's also important, though, is that you study video games. You have to familiarize yourself with the content.
This means basically playing games. Mobile games are the main source of jobs, but PC and consoles are very big too. Just download one of those on your favorite device. Start playing, and see how the different parts of the interface communicate to you - the player, the user.
There are a lot of different genres. I'll leave some for you to try, all very famous worldwide and quite different from each other. I also included the platforms they're available on:
Genshin Impact (Action RPG | Mobile, PC, Console)
Among Us (Social | Mobile, PC, Console)
Overwatch 2 (Team-Based Shooter | PC, Console)
Call of Duty: Mobile (First-Person Shooter | Mobile)
Pokémon GO (Augmented Reality | Mobile)
League of Legends (MOBA | PC)
I suggest you first play them in your source language, and then in your target language. You'll not only understand the visual language of video games but also see how things are translated differently. For PC, you should be able to set your language during installation. For mobile and console, you might need to change your device language via its settings. Also, all the games above are free to play - you don't need to pay to play! You just need a device capable of running them. Happy gaming!
Next up, we'll continue our path towards becoming a successful freelance translator in 2023 with an evergreen topic: how to write your first email to an agency.