“Locali-what?”– A Brief Introduction to Localisation
I’m Marta from PopCap’s Dublin office. I’m originally from Spain and I have recently joined the PopCap team – actually, last August. And what do I do? I’m the new Social Games QA, and my job is to take care of the localisation of our social games into Spanish.
“Oh, wait a minute… locali-what?” you may be asking yourselves. I know! You probably know many more doctors, lawyers or even pet walkers than localisers… well, I hope this video sheds some light on my very mysterious profession:
Now, is it a bit clearer?
To sum up, localisation is the process of adapting a product or service to a particular language and culture. Game Localisers are responsible for the translation and cultural adaptation of games. This ranges from the raw linguistic aspect to much subtler, yet very important details, such as showing users their proper score by correctly separating thousands and decimals, or ensuring that the French version of a game is still great fun by making up new puns that will work for the target audience. Right, humour doesn’t work the same everywhere!
Some products, such as instructions to assemble a table, don’t require a huge localisation effort. But when it comes to games, it’s another story. Let’s take Bookworm in Spanish for instance. Word formation is quite different from English: Spanish tends to use more vowels, and while “K” and “W” are relatively common in English, they are hardly used in Spanish. This needs to be taken into account when populating the letter-board. Besides, the game needs to be smart enough to recognise proper spelling and accentuated characters. Doesn’t seem too easy, does it? Well… now imagine if we wanted Bookworm in Japanese! So, our Localisation team here in Dublin strives to make our fantastic games as awesome for non-English-speaking users as they are for the English-speaking ones.
On a personal note, I must say I really enjoy my job. Having the chance to bring our games into my native language is exciting, challenging and rewarding. For those skeptical minds that still have doubts about the relevance of localisation, let me show you one instance of what happens when localisation fails:
This “tiny” mistake could kill the best marketing strategy ever.
So this is what I do. In future posts, I will share with you interesting news, comments, photos or videos related to game localisation at PopCap. Next time, I plan to go a bit deeper into how localisation in PopCap’s Dublin office works and the challenges we face. And if you happen to have any anecdotes or stories related to the localisation of our games that you’d like to share, contact me so I can include them in a future post!
Marta from Dublin
(Editor’s note: We did not localize Marta’s UK spelling into American spelling, out of respect for her job. Localizing a localizer just felt like bad karma, or something.)