Digging Deeper into Game Localization – What you Should Know


Planning to make your game appropriate for overseas markets? It’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty of game localization. In our previous post, we covered the basics of what’s involved in the overall process but this time round, we’re giving you a lowdown of the specifics.

There’s a lot more to video game localization than just translating words. Did you know that you have to consider fonts when translating? How about graphics and elements? Were you aware that these features would also need localizing too? There are several factors to know when planning a localization project, ones that will save you a lot of time and hassle in the long-run. Once you’ve decided to adapt your game for international markets, here are a few factors to keep in mind…

Decide what Needs Localizing

Before diving straight into the localization process, make a strategic plan and specify which exact elements of your game need translating or localizing. These might include:

• User interface (menu, commands, item descriptions, dialog boxes etc.)

• Sounds, subtitles, video clips

• Visuals (images, graphics, animations, logos, characters)

• Scripts, instructions, text boxes, dialogue boxes

Prepare your Files

One thing we like as a game localization company is having all your files ready and prepared for translation. Once you know which elements are to be adapted, send us the correct resources and ensure that they are readable and editable. The required files usually include:

• DOC files

• Xlsx file


• SRT file

• PSD file

With the right files in hand, you can save time communicating with your LSP and overall, speed up the localization process. It’s also recommended that you provide the translators with reference material or style guide. This will help linguists understand your game a lot better and know exactly what you want in terms of context. Your style guide should detail:

• The game’s world and overall story

• Tone of game

• Game walkthroughs

• Writing style and terminology (for character bios, game description, plot, etc.)

• Character/weapon/object information

• Character tone of voice and vocabulary

• Game rules

• Target audience

• Words that shouldn’t be translated

• Curse words allowed or not allowed?

Do a Quality Check

If you’re getting your script, or any other content translated, it’s a good idea to have the source content in English first as most LSPs will be able to handle this. Having the content in English from the start can help avoid any future inconsistencies and errors in language. It’s also a prerequisite that you have the source content proofread to check for any spelling or grammatical mistakes. LSPs like Pangea always do a quality check to make sure that your source content is accurate and suitable for translation before going ahead.

Carefully Select your Languages

When translating content, it’s important that you are aware of screen space. Some languages contain more words and are longer than others such as Arabic which has more vocabulary than English and automatically becomes more extensive when translated. Simply changing fonts, specific wording or font size can completely alter the design of your UI. When selecting languages for localization, it’s therefore important to also consider user interface design and any other elements that might contain text. In order to avoid a messy translation job such as cut-off text or a muddled layout, make sure to carefully select your languages for translation, test them and check that you have adequate white space for language extension. Most game localization services have a dedicated team for design and they should have the talented individuals to adjust any design inconsistencies.

Consider Cultures

If your game has elements relating to specific cultures, be cautious when it comes to targeting new locales – you don’t want to offend anyone. Specific terminology, idioms and phrases aren’t the only features of a game to be translated. National flags, symbols, colours, icons and currencies also need to be localized in order to avoid upsetting overseas users. Green for example is an accepted colour in Islam but represents adultery in China. Bear in mind to watch out for jokes or puns that might agree with one culture but not with others. When localizing your game, it’s therefore best that you choose elements that are universal and features that are accepted in all cultures.

Wondering which languages to target? Have a read through our post about the top languages for translation to know which ones are most powerful and commonly used worldwide…
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