Aspiring to make a leap forward as a game translator? It is true that genuine passion for languages and a great deal of enthusiasm towards video games are essential, but not enough. The booming industry is getting more and more diverse, delivering upgraded experiences by surpassing expectations and, as a result, pushing forward the need for game localization. Zelous players are thirsty for video adventures and they want it delivered as soon as possible, and preferably in the language they understand.Thus, the translation task may get in your hands, if, of course, you are aiming to find your place in the field. As getting started might seem quite complicated, it is worth getting clued up on the most important pointers that will provide you with some valuable insight.
To begin with, being able to translate games requires more than just fluency in two different languages. To reveal the distinctions in more detail, let’s first slide through the features which distinguish translation from localization.
The game localization business is an exciting and growing field. There are several ways to get involved, including working as a freelance translator or developer, finding work on a team or starting your own business.
The first step toward starting your own independent career in localization is becoming familiar with the basics of game development. It's important to understand the process of creating a game, how to use a game engine and what tools are available for making games.
The next steps will be listed below:
Translation versus localization
Roughly speaking, translation implies converting the meaning of the content into a different language. On the other hand, localization goes beyond purely transposing the meaning, taking into account cultural subtleties as well. This means being well-acquainted with cultural nuances which describe both the source and the target audience. In this case, the tasks get more strenuous, and a professional translator must be capable of facing the challenge. Along with understanding the gist of a message, a meticulous consideration should be addressed when translating humour, sarcasm, irony, and other culture-related aspects of the target language. You don’t want to offend or disregard anyone by committing tiny yet significant errors, so below are enlisted some relevant aspects which might be of help to your carrier as a beginner.
1. Stay informed. Read in advance.
The online world is drowning in information which might serve you in chasing your path. Articles, forums, tools, online and offline courses, advantages and disadvantages regarding game translation are available in tremendous quantities. Don’t miss the chance to sit down and run a search on subject and you won’t feel like fiddling around. Learning the basics and analyzing some projects will absolutely broaden your perspective, serving you for future decisions. Read other people’s opinions, dive into information and you will be less likely to commit random mistakes, just because you got acquitted in advance. Besides, when dealing with an assignment for a potential employment, make sure to double-check. Act in a responsible and professional manner, because first impressions are the most lasting.
2. Freelance or in-house? What suits you better?
There are several benefits and drawbacks for each option you will decide to stick with. For instance, when opting for an in-house job, do not forget to take into account the location, as you will have to get to work almost daily and your time is priceless. In contrast, being a freelancer means enjoying the coziness of your favourite place, but motivation and self-discipline must be handled very well. Should you feel more driven amongst people or comfort and privacy are your best friends when it comes to the translation task, the decision is up to you.
3. Get started as an in-house translator.
As long as you make up your mind and choose to start as an in-house translator, look for universities which provide audiovisual localization classes. Other faculties which include studying languages and culture are recomendable as well. However, there is no guaranteed path to start working in the game industry, a certain amount of experience will most probably be required. Thus, working in-house as a beginner could be an excellent opportunity to gain the knowledge that will help you to reach the edge to your next job offer.
4. Take the first step and the rest will follow.
Entering the game world might be a bit difficult in the beginning. Thus, applying for jobs in the game industry, which is not necessarily related to languages would be an option. Besides, several freelancing experiences can serve as a perfect introduction to the industry. Explore the possibilities and see what smiles to you.
5. Get in touch with translation agencies.
Don’t wait for tomorrow! Contact translation companies. There are plenty of agencies specializing in gaming. Maybe your contribution is what they are looking for. Get in touch with a few agencies and let them know about your knowledge and experience. If your candidature would spark an interest in them, most probably a test will follow and the rest will depend on their decision and, of course, on your steady ambition.
6. Get in touch with developers.
Countless developers collaborate with agencies or localization experts and sometimes they may be looking for someone new. Do not hesitate to follow game developers and translation agencies on social networks in order to get acquainted on job opportunities. What if an indie company is hiring and you are the ideal candidate to fulfill the tasks? Check their pages and make sure to be updated.
7. Join communities. Attend contests.
A myriad of events take place regularly where specialists gather together to address issues from the game industry. You can attend conferences, workshops and informal meetings to discover people and stories which will inspire you in following your professional goals. Besides, getting in touch with communities will contribute to extending your knowledge and, at the same time, will make people discover about you and the services you are offering.Maybe you find some job offerings as assist translators. In addition, this will enrich your social life. You can also participate at the annual game translation contest LocJam. No matter the results, the experience is worth trying.
8. Have patience.
Building a successful career in the game localization may take a bit longer than you expected, especially when working as a freelancer. Do not get disappointed. It is only natural launching a business and attracting your clientele takes time and consistency. We advise you getting started with smaller task and climbing gradually by increasing your responsibilities. Completing a few translations for free would be an option as well. As a rule, In the long run, it pays off.
There isn't any one path to becoming a game localization director. But there are plenty of opportunities for aspiring translators to get their foot in the door. Once you make it through the entry-level positions and prove that you can handle creative tasks, you'll find yourself in a job market where there's always room for one more translator.
Translating games is not like taking down road signs — you don't have to be fluent in every language to be able to translate games into another language. What matters most is your command of the English language, which means knowing idioms, colloquialisms and slang. You also need to know how to construct sentences that convey meaning while taking advantage of wordplay or other linguistic effects.
Overall, the game localization industry is a wild ride. If you're willing to commit your time and energy to the industry, you can expect long hours in front of a computer screen, pressure from multiple parties, and non-standard working hours. But for those that are up for the challenge and can look past the struggles that come along with this work, it's very rewarding. Localization pros are sought after across the board for their translation skills, so hopefully after reading this you have a better idea on how to get started on your journey from interpreter to localization pro!